Skip to content

OLIVER: We must hold celebrities, companies accountable for their pollution

Column: Curiosity Corner

Private jets, such as those owned by Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner, are frequently used unnecessarily, which causes large amounts of unnecessary pollution. – Photo by @kyliejenner / Instagram

Ever since the earliest years of our education system, almost all students have heard the phrase "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."

Given that Earth Day just passed this weekend, these words are especially pertinent to our lives. We saw countless posters, Instagram posts and online stories about what each and every member of society can do to play their part in saving the environment.

From switching to a vegan diet to buying sustainable clothing brands, social media connoisseurs have claimed the authority to educate the general public on the trendiest ways to protect our planet.

But just how effective are these strategies?

Despite what some influencers may have you believe, the individual acts of the average person do not constitute the bulk of environmentally unethical activities, nor do we have the power to enact effective change on our own.

During a crucial 25-year era of unparalleled emissions increase, the wealthiest 1 percent of the world's population was responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution as the 3.1 billion individuals who made up the poorest half of humankind.

Each year, the typical person emits roughly seven metric tons of carbon dioxide, according to Yard. In the first eight months of 2022, celebrities generated an average of more than 3,300 metric tons of emissions from their private aircraft alone.

Research has found that both Kylie Jenner and retired boxer Floyd Mayweather have taken flights less than 20 minutes long for journeys that would only require a few hours by vehicle.

Mayweather's 10-minute flight created one ton of carbon dioxide. In contrast, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average automobile generates 4.6 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

These actions serve as a reminder that as the general public works to reduce emissions, the affluent continue to spew pollutants as if competing for the highest score, a sickening gag of any individual or a group's efforts to cut waste.

The current generation of billionaires launching phallic-shaped rockets into the sky is a clear testament to the blatant disregard for the consequences of their actions on both the environment and the minorities of the working class who face the brunt of the effects of climate change.

All of this is not to say that doing your part to help protect the planet is completely pointless, but rather that in order to make effective change, there must be a combined effort. It is imperative that we hold each other accountable.

A capitalist system makes it impossible to attain equality since it invariably exploits workers and encourages social stratification. Although our individual efforts cannot make up for the havoc caused by corporations and the wealthiest members of our society, we may still lessen the overall detrimental outputs.

We can no longer absolve others or ourselves of culpability through the use of hypocritical sweet-nothings on social media. We must use the privileges that we are born with for the benefit of others if we want to become more ethical, conscientious consumers.

We cannot let our guilt devour us, but we also cannot disregard it completely by blaming others. When we continue to participate mindlessly in exploitative institutions, our "wokeness" loses any significance.

Because of how our actions affect other people, we must try to improve and encourage others to do the same.

Jamie Oliver is a first-year in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in English and linguistics. Her column, "Curiosity Corner," runs on alternate Tuesdays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

YOUR VOICE | The Daily Targum welcomes submissions from all readers. Due to space limitations in our print newspaper, letters to the editor must not exceed 900 words. Guest columns and commentaries must be between 700 and 900 words. All authors must include their name, phone number, class year and college affiliation or department to be considered for publication. Please submit via email to by 4 p.m. to be considered for the following day's publication. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

Related Articles

Join our newsletterSubscribe