Definition of environmentalist (Oxford Dictionary):
A person who is concerned about protecting the environment.
For as long as I can remember, I have been an environmentalist. I believe all children are environmentalists. Our fascination with a blade of grass or a line of ants crawling along the sidewalk grows into an appreciation for the beauty of breathtaking landscapes and a sense of duty when we see creatures in trouble. If you ever found a wounded animal when you were young, you can understand a child’s instinct to save the creatures of this planet.
I was born in Toronto in 1990. Since then, the world has emitted 63% more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the breadth of the human habitat has grown spectacularly.
In elementary school, we were taught to respect our environment. We were taught not to yank leaves off of bushes; we were taught that rain forests were precious places and we were taught that certain species of animals were at risk of going extinct. As a child, I was perplexed by the thought of a whole species disappearing from the planet: “Why don’t people stop hunting the elephants?” “Why don’t people stop destroying the pandas’ habitat?” This is truly perplexing to children because it seems like such an easy fix: just tell those people to stop their bad behaviour.
I have struggled with the answer to this question of “why?” for a long time. Unlike 10 year-old me, I have grown to better understand the complexities of human nature. Now, I know why hunters don’t stop hunting and why people need to tear down trees and expand into new habitats. I recognize that people don’t run out to buy electric cars after learning about the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and temperature changes, because people don’t radically change their behaviour overnight. These days, I am struggling with a different “why?” question: “Why don’t more of us do the little things?”
“Why don’t more people recycle?”
“Why don’t more people take transit when its convenient?”
“Why don’t more people stop buying plastic, single-use water bottles?” etc…
There is only one answer to all these questions: more people would do these things if they understood the importance of seemingly insignificant choices towards collective action. It was many small choices that pushed our climate into its current chaotic state and it will be many small choices that push us back to safety.
My goal for this blog is to illustrate how each Torontonian can do more of the little things that will save our planet.