Climate change – It took a 15-year-old girl, who decided not to go to school one Friday in August 2018, and instead sit down outside of Sweden’s parliament in Stockholm to get the world to listen. Holding a sign that read ‘School strike for the climate’ (‘Skolstrejk för klimatet’ in Swedish) Greta Thunberg called for immediate action on global warming, quickly capturing media attention. Six months later, her message went global. The world’s youth in 150 countries began to follow her lead, spreading her message with protests and massive marches. It was unprecedented. Youth were leading the way – and adults had no choice but to take notice.
On September 27th, ‘Climate Marches’ took place across Canada, with a record-breaking march in Montreal attracting an estimated 500,000 people in a peaceful protest. Adults were present in great numbers, but the majority of protesters were our youth. They were calling upon adults and politicians to take on the fight, to make the changes needed to save our planet, as their future was in serious jeopardy. Adults took to social media, voicing their opinions on the Montreal march, with many in awe and moved by their actions. But there were also those who believe it would ‘all fizzle out’ and be forgotten or even some people with the inability to understand scientific fact, calling climate change ‘fake’, denying it even exists. The biggest obstacle is inaction. Are Canadians really doing enough about it? Are we willing to make the urgent and necessary compromises?
Our youth are clearly doing their part and we really should not expect them to do more. Most of them cannot vote, nor can they create the policies needed to make urgent, imperative changes. Adults need to be more pro-active, but it’s easy for us to put the blame on our government and politicians, instead of initiating changes in own homes and businesses. Now that the March is over and the message is clear – what are we really doing in the fight against climate change? Many people have taken great steps forward by switching to natural and eco-friendly products and electric/hybrid cars and even eating less meat, while others ‘talk the talk’ but do very little. Let us ask ourselves these questions, keeping in mind the harm inflicted upon the environment just by manufacturing these products.
FAST FOOD: Do I still buy food in restaurants served on plastic plates or drinks in plastic or Styrofoam cups? Do I toss it in a garbage bin after use? Does the establishment I buy it from have a recycling bin? Styrofoam is not recyclable, because it is 98% air and most recycling plants have not found a way to do so yet. What about pizza boxes, that once soiled are not recyclable?
• GROCERY SHOPPING: Do I bring my own reusable bags, even if the store I go to still supplies plastic bags? What about plastic sandwich bags or aluminum foil? Am I bringing my own reusable containers? Am I demanding the store make changes to their practices – especially food items packaged with Styrofoam? What about detergents, cleaning items and even perfumed fragrances with harmful chemical compounds that end up in our rivers, lakes and oceans? Have I switched to more eco-friendly products?
• IMPORTED PRODUCTS: From food to clothing, electronics and more – am I willing to buy more domestic and locally produced items, even if it means less mangos and more pears – or clothing that cost a little more? Do I really need to have the newest, latest cellphone in my hands every time Apple puts out an ‘updated’ version, when the one I have still functions well and will serve its purpose for several more years? Our addictions are killing us – with Big Carbon Footprints.
• TRANSPORTATION: Do I take advantage of public transit or least use it, even occasionally? Do I carpool? Am I aware of the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) being emitted into the environment and the growing number of smog warnings in our cities because of cars? Blaming traffic congestion and construction detours is not the answer. Am I willing to downsize or switch to a hybrid or fully electric powered car?
INDUSTRY, BUSINESS and FARMING: Considering the magnitude of environmental damage caused by manufacturing, offices and other business, from poison emissions going into our air and water, to transport, plastic, packaging, paper and more – the list of questions would be too long to include here. But our voices can help make a difference. In the end, if we try to answer all the above questions honestly and ask ourselves if we can do more – the answers are there.