The situation that is facing our planet is dire
The climate is changing, sea levels are rising, glaciers are melting, natural disasters are occurring, biodiversity is declining. The earth is composed of precious ecosystems and marvels of nature—and protecting and preserving our home as we know it is a daunting task.
Despite the dismal state, it’s not too late, and it’s not impossible, to save the planet—however, we cannot do it alone. The work to save our home must be put in by every level of society, from individuals to businesses to governments. It will take a conscious and consistent effort by every party to take action for the betterment of our planet.
If we want to sustain our home for ourselves and future generations, there is much to be done, but let’s start here by exploring the 3 Ps of Climate Action: Personal, Professional, and Political.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The 3-R catchphrase is one of the standout lessons we learn in elementary school, but its importance cannot be overstated at any point in the life cycle—whether the life cycle is that of ourselves, the products we use, or the planet.
Reduce the amount of wasteful materials you use in your life. Cut out single-use plastics such as straws and plastic bags, and don’t purchase products you don’t need. Cutting back on items that end up in landfills and oceans will reduce the number of toxins being released into the air and threatening the lives of animals. Choose items such as refillable bottles and reusable bags instead of disposable alternatives, and upcycle old items such as clothing or home decor. Recycle any unneeded items, such as paper or plastics so that their life cycle continues in the most sustainable way possible.
Educate and Advocate
Research, learn and understand the impact your personal actions have on the environment, so that you can make informed decisions that treat the planet as a priority. Use your voice or platform to share these impacts with others through conversations, reaching out to organizations or the government, and using your vote in favour of the planet.
Use your resources (time and money) to minimize environmental harm by supporting and donating worthy causes, or by spending your consumer or tourism dollars with environmentally conscious organizations. Make efforts to recycle, pick up litter in the street, participate in a beach clean-up or other sustainably focussed volunteer activities. Lead by example and maybe your actions will inspire others to do the same.
Businesses must also practice the personal actions outlined above, but they have a responsibility to do so in a more measurable, accountable and transparent way.
Measurability, Accountability, Transparency
Businesses have a responsibility to commit to clear goals on how they plan to achieve a more sustainable future and maintain transparency about their progress on these goals. Measurable objectives will ensure that they stay on track and accountable to their commitments and are not falling short in favour of easier or cheaper alternatives. The environmental efforts must be authentic and reflected throughout the entire company, from its external offerings and services to its internal practices and structures.
Many companies publish sustainability reports that communicate the ways in which they plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, eliminate plastics and incentivize employees to also act in favour of the environment.
Sustainability takes sacrifice and actions don’t need to be perfect, but there should be complete transparency and authenticity that shows efforts are being made in the right direction.
Many Canadian companies are making effective strides towards sustainability. For example, the iconic Black Rock Oceanfront Resort in Ucluelet, B.C. (pictured above) is rolling out a zero-waste initiative (female-led, by the way!). Footwear, handbag, and accessories retailer Aldo has released its newest sustainable Love Planet Collection—check out this Environment 911 article for a more in-depth look at the commitments and moves Aldo has made along its sustainability journey. Vancouver-based meal kit service Fresh Prep has introduced a zero-waste meal kit, as takeout waste has grown over the pandemic.
There are many ways that businesses can exercise care for the environment. Companies can also offer measures such as paid leave for employees wishing to volunteer for a sustainable cause, hosting company-wide clean-ups, donate to or support sustainable businesses and more.
Photo by Shubham Sharan on UnsplashIndividuals and businesses must do their part, but looking at the bigger picture, our governing bodies must set the precedent for widespread, impactful and lasting change for the planet.
The basis of being measurable, accountable and transparent is required on a larger scale by our governments.
Sustainable goals and measurements are needed throughout every aspect of the law, as citizens deserve to know the planet is being made a priority. Climate action plans help political parties remain accountable to those they govern.
For example, in 2015, 196 countries came together to reach the Paris Agreement in a collective effort to fight climate change. The goal of the agreement is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. Each country has committed to its goals, such as Canada's long-term greenhouse gas development strategy to help achieve this. The agreement also identifies the need to prioritize intersectional environmentalism, committing to promote and consider the rights of Indigenous peoples, local communities, human rights and gender equality when taking climate action.
Governments must account for all aspects of society when fighting the climate crisis. This ranges from buildings and energy to land use and urbanization to transportation and fuel, consumption, natural systems and every community. Political action must work to protect every aspect of our planet from land to water to air to its inhabitants.
Laws and policies must be implemented to protect the planet in a wide variety of ways. They must work to reduce carbon emissions and protect key ecosystems. They must move away from non-sustainable energy that uses fossil fuels and emits carbon and shift towards green energy projects such as small wind, solar, and geothermal energy. They must incentivize, empower and mobilize citizens and businesses to care and to take action. The options are endless, but every little bit counts, and as individuals and businesses, we must continue to put pressure on governments and each other to give our very best efforts.
The common themes of climate action are the same throughout each sector of society—reduce, reuse, recycle; be accountable, measurable, and transparent; use your voice, platform, and resources. But all the efforts are intertwined and depend on each other, as we all share responsibility for saving the planet.