Why it Matters
By Alison Banks
Alison has a background in environmental management and is the owner of Architect's Daughter, a plastic free company. www.architectsdaughter.ca
If I gave you a photo today of a polar bear standing in a barren field with melting snow, or of smoke flowing out of a factory smokestack, what would come to your mind? For most of us, these images bring our thoughts directly to global warming, a problem our planet is currently facing.
Now, the causes of global warming can be very complex and intricate, however they all have one common denominator, and that is pollution. Pollution comes in a variety of different forms and can affect all the beauty our earth has to offer including our water, air and land. As people who care about the planet we live on, there are several great things we can do to ensure we are not contributing to pollution, helping the world to remain in good condition for the future. Scientists call this sustainable behaviour, or “sustainability”.
The sustainable behaviours of youth now are those that matter the most, as they are the demographic whose behaviours will most drastically affect the future. So let us get right into it with some simple and easy tips on how to live more sustainably. The important message to remember here is that not everyone has to be 100% percent perfectly sustainable; Rather, if everyone makes small changes, a lot can be achieved.
Tips on how to contribute to a sustainable planet:
Talk about it! Talk to your friends and family about their thoughts on sustainability! By keeping the conversation going about sustainability, people will continue to learn valuable information from each other and can also teach others what they know or have learned. The first step to contributing to anything is awareness.
Use reusable products instead of throw away alternatives. Use reusable water bottles, shopping bags, lunch containers, face cloths and wipes etc. Waste has become an enormous pollution problem today and our oceans and wildlife are paying the consequences. Though it might not be possible all the time, try your very best to reduce how much you throw into the garbage can.
Stay away from single-use plastics as much as possible. A conventional store-bought plastic water bottle would be the most common example of a single use plastic. Where the plastic water bottle is used solely to drink your water, and then thrown out. This type of plastic is very wasteful and amongst the most harmful to the planet. Any other type of plastic that is used once and thrown out would be deemed a single-use plastic as well.
Compost! Composting your food waste is an amazing way to reduce the amount of material you throw into the trash, and an added bonus is that it feeds the earth by putting valuable nutrients back into the ground! Who wouldn’t want that!
Buy second hand. Although this one may seem tough, it is quite important! By inheriting hand me downs and purchasing second hand, you are recycling clothing and reducing your contribution to the overproduction of clothing in today’s society! It is unfortunate, but clothing is also a large polluter in today’s world, with tonnes and tonnes thrown into the landfill each year. So we encourage you to rock your older siblings' clothing! Or check out some vintage clothing stores! A great advantage is that you will be bringing back original and unique styles! From personal experience, we bet that you will get some great compliments!
Editor’s note: This piece was written and submitted just prior to the declaration of a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. A sliver of good news since the outbreak of COVID-19 is the positive impact that shut downs, reduced air travel and social distancing are having on the environment. The long term impact remains to be seen, but here are a couple of good links: https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/covid-19-air-pollution-1.5501810 and https://www.sciencealert.com/here-s-what-covid-19-is-doing-to-our-pollution-levels