Last week, Union Square’s giant clock changed from telling the present time, to telling the time remaining. It was a climate crisis countdown. 

The 62-foot-wide clock switched from showing the time to showing messages including, “The Earth has a deadline.” Yikes. Then numbers — 7:103:15:40:07 showed up. And yes, this represents the years, days, hours, minutes and seconds until that deadline.

It got the world, and the team here at Zoe Elle, talking (and panicking) about climate change. 

Here, we asked our interns, assistant editor, and marketing coordinator what their initial reactions were, small steps they recommend taking, and what environmental changes they would like the government to make. We share some cool tips on how to be more sustainable, from using a diva cup and a reusable Q-Tip, to bringing back the Heelys. 

Kat Swank, Marketing Coordinator

  1. I was super freaked out. I know that in my science classes I took [we learned that] we really don’t have a lot of time left before we do irreparable damage to the planet. It was pretty nerve-wracking to see an actual countdown.
  2. I’m trying to replace my daily products with sustainable ones! I just ordered reusable cotton pads to replace the cotton pads I use for my makeup remover/toners/other skincare products, and I have a reusable Q-Tip coming in the mail soon! And I’m also looking into getting reusable pads and a diva cup since I learned that pads take 700 years to break down!! I’ve been using a reusable water bottle and straw for a while. I’ve also been focused on upcycling the clothes I have and I’m trying to thrift/go to second hand stores instead of shopping fast fashion. So my goal is to replace all of my basics within the next couple months with sustainable alternatives!
  3. First, I think that the government needs to acknowledge climate change and we need a leader who is going to want to tackle the issue head on. I think something that made me really upset about the clock was the fact that I think it’s being used as a scare tactic for regular people. While yes we contribute to climate change, it’s really corporations who are doing most of the polluting and carbon emissions. A clock is not going to stop them from continuing to pollute our world. We need legislation and regulations to stop corporations from continually abusing our earth for their profit. So we need our government to step in in a MAJOR way and do their part in ending climate change.

Jaclyn Lupo, Editorial Intern:

  1. I was scared, terrified, actually. What does this mean for the future generations? What does the future have in store if I choose to have kids? Will I be able to achieve my goals if the world isn’t healthy?
  2. I will be conscious of my consumption habits. Instead of buying things in plastic packaging, I will opt for something that can be reused. I urge my friends to make better options. Instead of choosing the lowest priced item, choose the item that is better for the earth, and your health.
  3. I want the government to make composting as normal as waste pickup. I’d love for the US to really hone down on the waste problem by having a better waste pickup system. I’d also love if there was more education provided that was easy to access for people who really don’t even know what the term “sustainable” really means. 

Dori Gray, Editorial Intern:

  1. My first thoughts were that, while the numbers were not surprising, the countdown itself was very alarming, and it was unsettling to see our—not to sound pessimistic—impending demise displayed in such a large, in-your-face way. However, I then came across a Twitter post that I think started some pretty good discourse about the topic.
  2. I do like to think that every little bit helps. I’ve been working on reducing my use of single-use plastic, and because I live near the water, my state is really big on recycling, which I sincerely appreciate. I’ve always been a fan of reusing materials as well, whether it’s clothes (I love me some hand-me-downs and a good thrift!) or otherwise. Even if you can’t afford to shop exclusively with sustainable businesses, you can still lead a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. (But if you can afford sustainable brands, please don’t ransack thrift stores for fun! They exist first for those who can’t afford to shop elsewhere.) One recommendation that I have for others is that if you live somewhere like a city, small town, or college/university campus where a car isn’t really needed, get yourself a cute bike and use that for transportation instead. (Or, if you’re super cool, grab a longboard or some Heelys.)
  3. Honestly, I don’t think that the effects of global warming will ever become irreversible unless the government and big corporations hop on board in making drastic changes, because they’re the ones doing the most damage to our environment. And, this needs to happen like… yesterday. I need them to make pledges and stick to them. I need corporations to change their business practices, and I need the current people in office to wake up, listen to scientists, and recognize that climate change is real, it’s happening, and we’re running out of time.

Shannon Assenza, Assistant Editor: 

  1. It made me feel scared and uncertain for the future of our planet. Hopefully, it’s a wake up call for those, especially those in the government, who aren’t taking climate change seriously. I’m hoping this urges people to vote for a government that sees the necessity to get involved immediately and has a plan to combat this.
  2. Zoe Elle has taught me so much and has helped me in the process of using more sustainable beauty/fashion products in my everyday life. I try to stop wasting as much as possible by doing little things like recycling everything I can, not running water when it’s not necessary, and not over-using electricity.
  3. I would like to see the government put strict policies in place for companies to follow to reduce carbon emissions. I think this could make a tremendous change for the better, since big corporations are responsible for most of the environmental issues.