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Saving Time vs Saving Our Future by Vania Santoso

Saving Time vs Saving Our Future by Vania Santoso


Everybody might have told you, “Time is Money”. Even there is a Drama/Sci-Fi movie, In Time (2011), where the only currency is the minutes and seconds of your own life expectancy. In this movie, people stop aging after 25. They need to buy time to live (and to buy other things), leading to a condition where the rich become somewhat immortal, while others cease to exist. From this movie I learned that time, especially the one shared with your loved ones, is priceless. But from reality, I have learned that time is not everything.

Time-saved might have stolen my, your, OUR future away.

It was one fine evening when I walked into a fast-food restaurant in Jakarta, expecting to have a burger to dine-in using my own container. But wait, isn’t it a dine-in order? Why using own container? Where is the restaurant’s plate? In the name of His Excellency Time Efficiency, that restaurant treats both dine-in and take-away the same: using disposable packaging. I clearly remember my old memory when I had a dine-in, the fast-food restaurant would serve using a plate. It is gone, unfortunately to most of the big chain industry.


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If we follow this habit and take it casually, we will all be destroying our future, our mother earth. Kidding you not, even if we have more time to live on earth, but if, it is only us, human-being without the environment that supports our living, what could we do? Makes sense enough, no? It is never the earth who needs us. Instead, it is we who need the earth to feed human-being.


Dear irresponsible business leaders (if by any chance this piece of my preach reaches you), I have done the reach out for #climateaction. Here’s my preach for you: if all in your mind is about time efficiency, please take a little time to rethink, now. Use the logic I stated, then reach not preach!

The most remarkable achievement.

Starting activism since I was in an elementary school, I am forever grateful to have received awards from national and international institutions, be it from academics, business, government, even from UN agencies: UNEP in 2007 to UN Foundation in 2019. I mentioned this not to brag (this has been very useful for me to gain trust from stakeholders anyway), instead, as a comparison. I have come to realize: there is something way bigger I have achieved personally beyond these awards, and I feel like I need to share this excitement with you!


Honestly, the logic I mentioned above brings me to the most remarkable achievement for me: behavior change. First, others’ behavior changes. One out of many stories that I would like to pick today is Armand Azharan, a best friend I know as he works in the private sector I cooperate with. He did not have any exposure to this climate crisis topic before. We used to hang out together until he noticed my simple gestures like saying “No straw, please” to the waitress, bringing my own reusable bag while shopping, and others. I am proud to say, he is now a doer and an advocate to his surround: he often updates me, as simple as be bold influencing his friends and colleagues to refuse using plastic straws (which is quite hard to do here as you will be stereotyped as a Social Justice Warrior in a negative note), even he quits smoking (beyond than the air pollution, the cigarette butts are the biggest pollution to the ocean). This is indeed a big achievement, bigger than those awards – no paper of certificates, but words of real stories that keep coming.


“No straw and succeed” message © 2019/Armand Azharan


You too can get this big achievement of behavior change! Here is another story of my own behavior change. All my family knows how I could not stand to touch stains, including food leftovers (sauce, porridge, etc.). Thanks to that logic, I can finally pay the price a bit to this universe provider: defeating my own feeling, dealing with stains! I used to buy porridge using the seller’s styrofoam. Now I can refrain myself from buying any take-away food or beverage using harmful packaging and get back to the seller once I bring my reusable container. Of course, washing that container on my own! Burger, porridge, avocado dessert, boba drink (milk tea with bubble), you name it. Each of us can get this big achievement together; Start from now, start from ourselves, start from the little thing, because every (little) action counts! 

A matter of perspective.

Echoing what Sustainable Development Goals 12 says, Responsible Consumption and Production, each of us plays an important role, be it as consumer and producer to really create a systemic change. People often come to me saying that doing #climateaction is making life and business more complicated. True, I am not denying. I need to consider more than being ignorant, to take extra time too. But after all, it is a matter of perspective.


In a world where you can get all in an instant way while saving more time, where will you spend that some more time you’ve got once the environment is no longer exist?

Which point of view are you going to prioritize the most, sustainability or egocentric? If it is important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.

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About the Author. Vania Santoso (@avaniasantoso) has started her activism since she was 12 years old. She transformed her social project on innovative home-waste management (in 2005) into a social enterprise, heySTARTIC (in 2014) that promotes green lifestyle through fashionable upcycled products. In addition to the field of environment and social entrepreneurship, Vania also has experience in the field of development and youth participation gained by advising UNFPA Indonesia as Youth Advisory Panel 2013-2015, serving UNICEF Indonesia as the Innovations Officer 2015-2017, and being ASEAN MY World 2030 Advocate for UN Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign 2018. Vania is affiliated with Indonesian youth-related networks, including Climate Influencers by Climate Institute, Head of Social Innovation at Rumah Millennials, and Youth Creative Ambassadors by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

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Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth supports all young people and their diversity in exercising their right to freedom of expression. Reach Not Preach platform serves as a safe space for all young people to share their take on the topic of climate change. The views expressed in the Reach Not Preach platform are those of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the United Nations Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth and the United Nations.