In light of Concordia’s first Zero Waste Week, we at The Concordian would like to take a moment to remind our peers of some of the ways we can effect positive environmental change in our communities.
Achieving a more environmentally sustainable society requires effort on the part of both the individual and larger institutions such as governments, universities and corporations. While it may seem intimidating and difficult to instigate large-scale change, it is important to remember the resources we have access to in a democratic society.
Voting for politicians with green platforms, reaching out to your member of parliament or protesting against public policies that hurt the environment are all ways that we as individuals have the power to shift our society to be more sustainable. If enough people voice their priority for the environment, it will bring these issues to the forefront of our country’s politics and force our leaders to either adapt or lose support.
Nonetheless, changing our broader society’s stance on environmental issues is an extremely slow process. For this reason, The Concordian believes supporting sustainability is equally, if not more, important on a personal level—by that, we mean taking action in your own life. This includes finding ways to ‘green your home’ to minimize energy consumption, eating less meat, refusing to invest your money in environmentally unfriendly corporations and buying local foods with as little packaging as possible—check out the grocery store LOCO in the Mile End where you bring your own containers to buy food that uses zero packaging.
While your impact will obviously be greater if you commit to doing more of these things, some people seem to have a faulty all-or-nothing mentality about living a sustainable lifestyle. According to CBC, Florence-Léa Siry, the co-founder of the Zero Waste movement, “doesn’t expect anyone to be an extremist in their habits.” People have different limitations, such as time, money and dietary restrictions that affect their ability to live sustainably. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a positive impact. For example, it takes between 6,810 and 9,460 litres of water to produce a single pound of beef. Imagine how much could be saved simply by cutting your weekly consumption of beef in half.
There are also many ways you can act more sustainably here at Concordia. You can support groups like Concordia’s Greenhouse, Sustainable Concordia, People’s Potato and Divest Concordia by attending events and volunteering your time. You can shop at places like Le Frigo Vert—a green foods store run by Concordia students—or donate money to any of the groups listed above. If you are part of an organization on campus, you can consult the Dish Project and the Sustainability Action Fund when organizing events to find out how to make them as environmentally friendly as possible.
As individuals, we can reduce our ecological footprint by changing the way we go about our everyday lives. Simple things like buying food with limited packaging, taking public transportation and using less electricity all have a positive impact on the environment and send a message to producers and politicians that we as consumers and citizens value sustainability. We at The Concordian hope each and every one of you understand the importance of taking at least one of these steps towards living a more sustainable life. One person’s actions may not seem like a lot, but as a community of over 45,000 students, there is little doubt that we have the power to make incredible change.
Graphic by Zeze Le Lin