“All you need is one person who cares about the world”: Great Big Green Week 2023

Photo by Markus Spiske: https://www.pexels.com/photo/climate-road-landscape-people-2990650/

To celebrate this year’s Great Big Green Week, Sustainability Consultant Natalie McClay shares stories from around to world to inspire ICON readers to join in community action to tackle climate change.


As a sustainability consultant, I like to think that getting involved in environmental activities and considering wider sustainability in my daily life comes fairly naturally. However, once a year it is nice to be reminded to get involved when and where you can.

The Great Big Green Week is a yearly event that the Climate Coalition has been running since 2021. Until the 18th of June, communities are encouraged to take part in local events, be it a butterfly survey, a free online training programme, or a conservation walk.

The key to spurring on action across our communities is by looking at what is already being done, so in this blog I will share six stories from around the world that will inspire you to get involved!

1. The 19th Century German scientist Ernst Haeckel first coined the term ‘Oecologie,’ referring to a web that links together all the organisms that surround it. In other words, nature and people are two parts of one whole. The intrinsic connection between people and nature has meant that wherever harm has been done to the environment throughout history, the voices that demand a greener way of life have echoed.

2. The Bishnoi Hindus of Khejarli could be credited as the first environmental activists, who attempted to protect a forest that the Maharaja of Jodhpur felled to build himself a palace and were killed in the process.

3. In the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin petitioned to remove tanneries for clean air and manage waste as a public “right” following a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia.

4. The first Earth Day took place on the 22nd of April 1970. 20 million Americans got involved and twenty years later, it became a global event with more than a billion people participating in various activities each year. As long as we have known about damage to our environment, people have been standing up and talking about it, advocating for change and often risking a lot in order to do so.

5. Youth activists have captivated our attention throughout the climate crisis, the most notable example being Greta Thunberg. Her story has proven to us all that one person’s decision to make a difference can snowball into a global movement.

6. Young people in every nation are rising up and taking action, especially in those areas of the world already feeling the ripples of climate impacts. Tahsin Uddin lives in Bangladesh. At the age of 12 he began to publish his own monthly magazine for children after becoming concerned about the impact of climate change on the river close to his grandfather’s home. Now, he can use his platform to allow children at risk from the impacts of climate change in coastal areas to practice journalism.

Regardless of time and place, what all these stories have in common is that all you need is one person who cares about the world.

It can be argued that all the little everyday things that we do to celebrate nature and remind ourselves and others that the environment is well worth saving can be considered activism – everyday activism.

A colleague of mine who likes to walk in the Lake District, horrified by the amount of litter, began collecting it on each visit to preserve the beautiful landscape for others. You might allow a patch of your lawn to go wild and sow it with wildflowers for local pollinators, or you may choose to start buying an eco-friendly brand of washing up liquid.

Whatever small steps it is that you take, it can be done with the reminder that every little thing that you do makes a difference.

To find out which Great Big Green Week events are happening in your local community, you can visit their website.

Natalie is an environmental consultant at Inspired PLC.