Reading “How You Can Save the Planet” by Hendrikus van Hensbergen, I felt as if it was made for me. My name is Hemlata, I am a 16-year-old amateur farmer, plant enthusiast, and wannabe eco-activist from Bristol (UK), so when I saw this book, it felt right to pick it up. And, I am so glad I did.
I felt as though the author shared my attitudes not only towards the ecological crisis but my core belief that we are capable of creating a new, better reality for ourselves and future generations.
Hemlata reading the book “How You Can Save the Planet” by Hendrikus van Hensbergen. Photo credits: Action for Conservation.
This book, packed with an infectious desire for action, is a peaceful call to arms for all who want to take part in constructing a greener and fairer society – especially young people like myself. On almost every page, there is a new, hands-on task complete with clear bullet points, step-by step guides and illustrations on how to carry out said green activity; such as building a green wall, writing to your local MP or making a bird feeder from recycled materials. As a result, my copy has ended up looking quite colourful, with its bookmarks on several pages of what I believe I have the capacity to carry out; for example, a step-by-step guide on how to rewild a green space – my gardening project this summer! After thoroughly explaining what to do and how to do it, van Hensbergen explains the achievements the project will bring (such as helping pollinators and providing homes for wildlife), which perfectly persuaded me to do it as soon as possible!
As I read the book, I realised that van Hensbergen, as the CEO of grassroots youth environmental charity Action for Conservation, truly understands how to empower young people and give teenagers like myself opportunities to be eco-heroes. In the foreword he writes about the unimaginable power of stories and he couldn’t be more correct; his use of stories of youth green activists was particularly poignant and inspiring.
Along with the Holy Trinity of advice this book provides for any budding eco activist (tools, tactics, tips), it also includes stories of youth activists (like activist Princess-Joy Emeanuwa), making me feel “amazing” and like I “could do anything”. These young activists are honestly just like me, one of them described as “living in Sheffield” and not knowing how to change the big wide world. I know for a fact that this feeling resonates with almost every teenager I know, and this book does a great job of lifting my friends’ (who have heard way too much about how much I like “How You Can Save the Planet”) and my spirits! When I read it, it was a cycle; the stories implored me to find out more, finding out more implored me to want to go and do something, wanting to do something made me keep reading for those crucial tools, tactics and tips.
At its core, to me, it felt like this was what “How You Can Save the Planet” was about: reminding people (especially young people) of the task befalling humanity right now – the task of reimagining and creating a new world.
If I haven’t made it clear enough, I recommend this book to every teenager out there (and anyone else wanting to make a difference) and I do believe we’ll see an uptake of ecological activism directly because of this fantastic book!