Why I Jybe: Sandy Yen

September 9th feels like a distant memory now… It was the day I woke up in Oakland, California, to a burning orange sky. The otherworldly phenomenon was a result of smoke from multiple wildfires in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington blowing into the Bay Area. I moved through the day with a feeling of disbelief and dread, the discomfort of mother nature being pushed to her brink on full display.

View of Golden Gate Bridge with blood orange sky, couple facing away looking.

I’m sure you’ve seen pictures online, on social media, in the news. From someone who lived it, the pictures just don’t do it justice. That day, it wasn’t just the ominous color of the sky…it was how the day stayed dark from morning to night, like an all-day eclipse. We were constantly looking at the clock because it felt like time was standing still. We closed our windows. We stayed indoors. We wondered if the world would ever be the same.

As I sit here a month later, things feel like they are back to normal. The sun is shining and the sky is blue. The AQI (air quality index) is a healthy 25… a far cry from the unhealthy 200s we saw only a few weeks ago. It’s easy to move on and brush off what happened. Wildfires are common in the Bay Area. In fact, they are a natural part of the earth’s ecosystem, right? Climate change, who?

So going back to September 9, was that just a once-in-a-lifetime sci-fi moment? Did that day mean anything?

According to Cal Fire, more than 4.1 million acres (6,400 square miles) of the state have burned in 2020, and the fire season is not yet over. Five of the ten largest fires in California history have occurred in 2020, and seventeen of the twenty largest on record have occurred since 2000. It can’t be good that fire season has evolved from a period of increased awareness to a months-long season of destruction, displacement, and N95 masks.

What’s happening here in the Bay Area, the U.S., and around the world… the raging fires, heat waves, damaging hurricanes, flooding… makes it clear that climate change is here and things need to change. I know I am not the only one who feels like this problem is so big that it’s hopeless.

Hand holding sign that says, "There is NO Planet B."

But here’s the good news. It’s not hopeless. There are people, communities, cities, companies, doing amazing work and leading the way on change… one of which is Jybe.

And while many special interests have delayed our united response to climate change by casting doubt on the source of the problem, there can be no question that humanity is the cause of plastic pollution. It’s one reason there is little community opposition to limits on plastic, and why I’m so optimistic that we can make real strides at the grassroots level to end our reliance on it by combining our efforts and knowledge.  

We have a saying here at Jybe: ”progress on the way to perfection.” I love this so much because it gives me hope and captures the truth of the situation…we can’t just snap our fingers and make the plastic go away. However, we can take steps every day to help combat the activities linked to climate change. Progress is action. Progress is awareness. Progress is education. Progress is making sure you take responsibility for your actions and do what you can to make informed and environmentally responsible decisions. 

That’s why I am so excited to be part of the Jybe family! The name Jybe was inspired by the word “Jibe.”  Jibe is a sailing term that means to change direction and the founders picked this name because they believe it’s not too late for us, collectively, to change course. Jybe is a community of individuals who want to change course by living more sustainable lives and empower others to do the same. From the eco-expert to the newbie who doesn’t know where to start, Jybe is for all of us… because we all know that the most effective way to slow down climate change is to do it together.

“In a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill any bucket.” –David Suzuki

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