Teen-tofu uprising and its cultural divergence

  • 2023-02-02
  • Sofia Zolotarjova

Every society sees the world through its country’s prism. As a 19-year-old quadrilingual student born in Latvia, raised in France and studying in England, I have access to secret multicultural intel on these countries’ relationships with the environment.

Growing up in Latvia, I don’t remember much about the environmental conversations that we had, as I was about 3. However, now that I’m all grown up, I can talk to my Latvian-resident-grandparents about it instead. Whenever I bring up recycling or veganism, they brush it off as if it doesn’t even concern them. Once, when I was visiting them, I asked where their cardboard bin was and they looked at me as if I was crazy, adding that they “don’t believe in these things”. As Latvia has an aging mentality, they approach this concept as a belief, that they actively choose not to believe in. They’re more concerned with the current economic climate, and their extensive collection of parks doesn’t seem affected by these modern conspiracies. 

When I moved to France, this behavior followed with their classic “laissez-faire” attitude. What difference could they make in the grand scheme? So instead of trying, they didn’t. Some efforts were made when concerning food, though. The French are proud of their identity and even more proud of their food, so buying locally and cooking with fine, cared for products wasn’t a difficult shift. Nevertheless, this society cries “révolution” when they start to feel restricted, so the road to recycling is still bumpy, and cutting down on red meat is a forbidden subject. Some of my friends did recycle, however…although they were British.

I’m currently living in the UK, and the environment is the new trend amongst the younger generation. Everyone knows the recycling schedule, and is strict to enforce it, they go thrifting, don’t drink “normal” milk, and eat meat sparingly. I’ve been told off many times by my peers for using the wrong bins and even found myself getting annoyed at someone not willing to switch milks. England has really made an effort and helped turn the environment into an important issue of everyday life. Also, can anybody tell the difference between Quorn nuggets and real nuggets, because I had to read the label over and over again in disbelief.

To summarize, every country is very different in the way they approach the environment and sustainability issues. Their mindsets are dictated by their past, current worries, traditions, culture, politics, climate, population and literally every single aspect that makes that country its own. Their approach to the environment and our future is just a reflection of themselves and oddly enough, the stereotypes we have of them. Therefore, the way you perceive the environment is heavily dictated by the place you live in. Although “your” environment can and will vary, remember that “the” environment is crucial, and we should all contribute if we want a better future, no matter if your surroundings agree or disagree.