Climate change; global warming; the planet is dying–however you want to label it, the time to act in order to reverse the severe damage to our planet is now.
According to a recent report by the United Nations, the world is 1° C hotter than it was between 1850 and 1900. In 2015, 196 world leaders came together to sign the Paris Agreement, a plan to keep global warming well below 2°C.
According to the World Wildlife Foundation, if the world doesn’t collectively act to reduce negative changes by 2100, sea levels could rise by 1.8 per cent, virtually all coral reefs will die, arctic summers will be nearly ice-free, 2.7 billion people will be exposed to heat waves every five years, flooding will increase by 170 per cent, and 18 per cent of insects and plants will lose more than half their habitat.
Luckily, if everyone does their part, there’s still hope. Coming into the new school year, implementing a sustainable approach to everyday routines can help. Little changes go a long way for the environment.
Food and drink
Several major U.S. cities like Seattle and Washington D.C. banned plastic straws this year. In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his plan to ban all single-use plastics by 2021. As a result of these bans, reusable straws have become more popular. If you’re a frequent straw-user, there are many alternatives to plastic straws, such as metal or silicone straws that you can buy and keep on you at all times to avoid using plastic ones.
Bringing a reusable water bottle and travel mug with you for constant water and coffee/tea refills can also reduce your plastic water bottle/coffee cup usage.
For food, wrapping your lunches in beeswax paper is a sustainable alternative to using plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Canadian brand Mind Your Bees Wraps makes eco-friendly colourful reusable beeswax wraps for all food storage purposes. Tupperware’s and cloth snack pouches are also a great alternative to plastic bags for trickier loose foods.
Carry reusable grocery bags in your pocket or backpack for when you need to go shopping—most grocery stores now charge for plastic bags. When shopping for groceries, try choosing a zero-waste grocery store where you can bring your own containers and buy in bulk. Méga-Vrac is a zero-waste grocery store with two locations, in Rosemont and Hochelaga, that offer discounts on products if you bring your own containers. The waste-free store also offers all the products listed above!
Health and beauty
Wasting less and choosing eco-friendly products is possible even for your beauty routine. In regards to menstruation, some alternatives to regular tampons or pads are menstrual cups such as the Diva Cup or menstrual cloth pads.Try using reusable cloth pads to remove makeup instead of disposable cotton pads and handkerchiefs instead of tissues.
When it comes to hygiene, try choosing a soap bar or shampoo bar instead of liquid soap–it usually lasts longer and doesn’t come in a plastic container. Ditch your plastic toothbrush and opt for a bamboo toothbrush. Did you know the plastic and nylon used in your toothbrush are virtually indestructible? According to National Geographic, approximately 23 billion toothbrushes are thrown out in the U.S. every year. Most of the plastic ends up in our oceans, killing marine life–100,000 marine animals per year to be exact. According to Ocean Crusaders Foundation, over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris are currently in our oceans.
Here is something to think about: how much paper does Concordia and its students use every year? A lot of people around campus have already switched to digital for practical reasons. Try going digital this semester by taking notes on Google Docs/Word/Pages, opting for a PDF or ebook instead of textbooks, and handing in your assignments online (when permitted of course).
According to Statistics Canada, the transport sector is responsible for 74 per cent of CO2 emissions. That’s why thinking of the way you travel is crucial to a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Luckily, Montreal has a variety of sustainable transportation options. Try to ride to school on a Bixi or Jump bike if you don’t have your own. Bixi docs are all over downtown and at least 3 can be found in close proximity of the downtown campus. The new Lime e-scooters are now a fun new option for days when you just don’t feel like pedaling. Another option is to use public transit, the shuttle bus or carpooling with friends. The fewer cars used per person, the less greenhouse gasses emitted.
Acting to help reverse the severe effects of climate change is an adjustment, but if everyone does their part, it’s possible.
Graphic by @sundaeghost