We're almost halfway into January, but I thought this would be the best time to post about environmental resolutions - the rush of self-improvement new year's resolutions have died off a little bit and our lives are starting to fall back into the same (old but new) routine. Having environmental resolutions might seem like the same bombardment of environmental things you're constantly being told to do (recycle) or not to do (litter); there are definitely a list of things we have been conditioned and told over and over again to be a "good environmental citizen" since you were in grade two... But instead, let's start really thinking about our worldview, our environmental values and priorities, and how our impact can empower the wider environmental movement (because they can!).
1. Work hard to stay informed about local and global environmental issues! Share this information.
This is definitely one of the most important things you can do as an environmental advocate. To stay informed about climate change, oil spills, environmental policies, means that you can likely bring up these key issues in conversations or sharing them on social media. Having a good understanding of environmental issues is good for you as you can learn about interesting facts and topics and well... probably often disappointing and awful environmental destruction things... but still... Reading more informations, seeing interactive maps and visuals and infographics that highlight key figures, and much more can help you find your route of the environmental issues you care most deeply about and start thinking about how you can help solve these crises.
Grist (http://grist.org/) is my favourite environmental news source, but other sites such as Friends of the Earth - Environmental Justice (https://www.foe.co.uk/news/env_justice_index), DeSmogBlog (http://www.desmogblog.com/) or Climate Central (http://www.climatecentral.org/) are other great places to find information and news. There is always more to learn and always more environmental innovations and tragedies happening around the world.
2. Make some environmental friends!
This may not seem like a resolution that is going to really impact the environment, but I guarantee you that it can absolutely help. Having people around you who are also passionate about environmental issues and sustainability can reaffirm that the work that you are doing and the topics you care about do indeed matter. You can help each other stay motivated and passionate. When you encounter lots of people who may express their apathy or disengagement with environmental issues, people who may not understand why you feel so strongly about the environment (or even criticize you for doing so), having even one environmental friend can help to reassure you that you are not in this struggle alone. There are lots of environmentalists, lots of work fields that are increasingly prioritizing sustainability, and lots of support for you to be as much of a tree-hugger as you can be! You can do that by contacting us at Sustainable Queen's and attending our Sustainable Queen's Forums (Wednesday, Jan 13th @6PM in the AMS Boardroom)
3. Be Critical of Your Individual Environmental Impact.
It is increasingly becoming apparent that individual impact and the governance of "environmental citizenship" has less of an environmental impact as we are told it does... However, there are lots of ways that environmental impact does matter. Your choice to try to cut down on eating meat, or always remembering to use a re-useable bag, retrofitting your home, or driving less and taking the bus more, might seem like small choices, but they can definitely shift your worldview into trying to be less wasteful, make more ethical choices, and try to live in a manner that produces the least environmental impact. Additionally, small individual choices are easier to relate to and understand, and can perhaps spark discussion amongst your friends or peers or co-workers, which can help create a culture in which people are open-minded about environmental changes and thus perhaps more willing and supportive of larger sustainable projects such as lobbying Canada to commit to a tangible plan of action for reaching the 100% renewables by 2050 target that they just signed at COP21 Paris in December.
Obviously there are many other aspects of environmentalism that I did not touch on, but part of being the best environmentalist you can be is being aware of what you value and how you want to grow and how you want to contribute. Although, I very strongly recommend trying to grow some of your own food! Here's an article on Growing Your Own Food Indoors During the Winter! but also for the summer, if you don't have a backyard of your own, there are many community gardens (more info here: http://www.kingstoncommunitygardens.ca/) that will happily rent you a garden plot and support you in your gardening journey.
There are always more opportunities to join the environmental movement here at Queen's and I hope that you have a lovely rest of the year.
Geography & Environmental Studies '17