By: Jackie Heintzman
An Advertising and Marketing student passionate about the environment and world issues.
Being a post-secondary student is one of the most stressful, time-consuming and craziest times in life, I get that. Between tests, friends, work and “me-time” the environment is probably the last thing on your mind. But before I go into how easy it is to care for the world, you should know why it’s so important to care in the first place.
Planet earth’s climate is changing at an extremely rapid and scary pace. The average global temperature in 2014 was the world’s hottest year on record! With the temperature rising, the sea levels are as well with icebergs and glaciers melting faster than we can keep up to. Global sea level is expected to rise 7-23 inches before the end of this century. Do you have any idea what this means? All of our beloved coasts and major cities along these coasts will be completely flooded with our homes, our favourite bakery and breakfast spot along with it. On top of that, there will be third world countries who’s crops and everything they own will be destroyed, and will have no way to recover causing the people in these places to eventually be extinct. Yes, extinct. If that doesn’t frighten you, what about that in less than 30 years the Arctic region may have its first completely ice-free summer. This is the playground of Polar bears, the Arctic fox, orca whales, seals and so many more beautiful creatures. So not only will our homes be ruined by our self-destructing habits, but also innocent animals that will not survive the climate change we are causing.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are also severe droughts happening because of climate change. You know those beautiful, big and luscious strawberries you’re buying at the grocery store all year round? They read “Driscoll’s, only the finest berries. Product of the USA.” These berries, along with almonds and other water demanding foods are causing two thirds of California’s drought. Californians are shortening their showers, having dead lawns and gardens just because Canadians won’t stop eating strawberries. Drought ranks second in terms of national weather-related economic impacts. It is raising the cost of our produce everywhere and also threatening our water supply and ruining ecosystems. As our earth’s temperature rises from global warming, so does the increase of drought. Next time you’re at the grocery store buying fresh produce, try to buy as local as you can. Do some research ahead of time to see what fruits and vegetables are in season in your province or even go above and beyond that by visiting a local farm in your area.
Now that I’ve woken you up a little bit and hopefully captured your attention, I’ll explain how it really only takes some research, passion and commitment to change the habits society has forced upon us that are ruining the beautiful world we live in.
For starters, if you aren’t recycling yet (do you live under a rock?) that’s the first step in the right direction. Check out exactly what you can and cannot recycle in the city of Toronto here. This is an area where it is easy to get lazy when out in public. If there is no recycling option around, try to hold onto your waste until finding one.
Also, the food you buy can play a huge role in your eco footprint. Like mentioned before, you could be contributing to a huge drought problem by buying produce grown in places such as California. On top of that, the transportation of produce grown in different countries to your own grocery store isn’t exactly helping the CO2 emission situation. Bet you never thought of that before! Buy local foods as much as you can and not only will you be helping the environment, but also the local economy of your hometown.
To continue the issue on your food eco footprint, the meat industry is actually the largest emitter of CO2 emissions and is responsible for 90% of the rainforest deforestation. Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32 million tons of CO2 per year, which is 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. This is something that I personally had a hard time dealing with, which is why I became a vegetarian. Even by just cutting beef out of your diet, you are already making a difference to the environment. Or just making a conscious effort to cut down on your meat consumption the best way you can will do wonders. To learn more about the meat and dairy industry and the impact it’s having on the environment, watch the documentary called Cowspiracy, I guarantee it will be the most eye opening and beneficial 85 minutes of your life. Watch the trailer for it here. Being aware of what you are eating and the impact you are making is really the first step towards making a difference.
Some more effortless ways you can help the environment as a student are shopping at thrift stores and giving to thrift stores, being mindful of how much electricity you are using (unplugging things when they are not in use), taking shorter showers and not leaving the water on while brushing your teeth or washing the dishes. There are many things you can do to reduce your eco footprint as a student but the first step is wanting to. Because when the last tree is cut, the last river poisoned and the last fish dead, we will discover that we can’t eat money…