The Power of the Individual

Humans might like to think that mass extinctions are a thing of the past or a hypothetical event of the future, but the reality is that we are living through the 6th mass extinction, known as the Holocene Extinction, right now.  

This event, which has been occurring for the last 10,000 years, is wiping out numerous plant and animal species and is wreaking havoc on biologically diverse habitats such as coral reefs and rainforests. Data also show that it’s accelerating. In the last 100 years, we’ve lost over 500 land vertebrate species to extinction, and we are predicted to lose at least the same number of species in just the next 20 years. To make matters worse, it is human actions that are mostly responsible for the Holocene Extinction.  Urban encroachment or all-out destruction of natural habitats, climate change, pollution, hunting, genetic mutations, and increasing meat consumption all contribute to this ongoing extinction event.

Some of these problems can’t be solved easily and require cooperation and a concerted political will. But some changes can be made at the individual level.  They can be made in the moment, right now, by anyone.

So what can we do?

Raise awareness and be an advocate for our environment. Share reputable news articles on social media, volunteer for environmental organizations. Exchange ideas on how we can all reduce our fossil fuel consumption and become stewards of nature. And get out of our own echo chambers. We need to have rational, fruitful discussions with those who might not initially agree with us but who are willing to follow the science.

Reduce pollution. Recycle and use less plastic whenever possible. Try to ride a bicycle or walk instead of drive. Turn off your lights and any appliances when you aren’t using them and use energy efficient light bulbs. Whenever possible, buy things that aren’t manufactured using fossil fuels.

Eat less meat.  Eat no meat, if possible.  Plant-based alternatives have never been more abundant in the marketplace, so diverse, or so affordable. By eating less meat we cut down on climate change and habitat destruction. This is not a quick cure-all for the world’s climate woes, but it is a change that can make a difference. 

Eat Less Meat. Basil leaves and avocado on sliced bread on white ceramic plate
Photo by Lisa Fotios on

This is why our first initiative at EcoLogic Health focuses on increasing the availability of ecologically responsible, sustainable, vegetarian, and whole foods for students.

Check out some of these meat-alternatives and see what difference you can make, right now.

Thistle Meal Subscription:

Impossible Foods:

Beyond Meat:

Amy’s Meals:


Environmental impact of omnivorous, ovo-lacto-vegetarian, and vegan diet

The Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction Is Accelerating

Vertebrates on the brink as indicators of biological annihilation and the sixth mass extinction

Published by Iliana Close

Iliana Close is a senior at Carlmont High School in Belmont, California with interdisciplinary interests in medicine, conservation and public health policy. She is a lifelong vegetarian and environmental activist with a passion for human and animal rights. Iliana has been competing in science fairs in biology and computational systems and analysis since she was in 5th grade and has competed at the state level for the past 3 years. She has received many 1st place and Grand Prize awards, and in 2020 she was honored to be an ISEF finalist for her project “Predicting the Development of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome Using Machine Learning and Automated Feature Detection.” When Iliana is not studying or working on her science fair projects, she spends her time taking care of her seven adopted animals, playing piano and trombone, or with the horses at the Stanford Red Barn.

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