By 2030, the UN estimates that 60% of the global population will live in urban areas, and that 1 in 3 people will live in cities with at least half a million inhabitants. While cities provide an ecosystem for modern life and technological advancements to intersect, the speed at which our civilization is developing has severe consequences for our natural world and in turn, our existence on this planet. As noted in  the 2018 UN IPCC Special Report and the 2019 Canada’s Changing Climate Report, climate change is accelerating.

One-fifth of the world’s coral reefs have died within the last three years and the rest could disappear within the next few decades. Each minute, forest cover equivalent to 27 soccer fields is cleared to make room for industrial farming, palm oil production, and the pulp and paper industry. Each year, arctic sea ice reaches a record minimum. We are experiencing the worst wave of species extinctions since the loss of the dinosaurs nearly 65 million years ago. 

All living things are intrinsically valuable and play a crucial role. Fortunately, the rate at which species are disappearing can be slowed and species can recover, if we take immediate action. The 2019 theme for Earth Day is ‘protect our species’. Earth Day kicks off Earth Week, April 22 to 26. Below are a few ideas for what you can do to minimize your environmental footprint and help reverse climate change.

Limit Single-Use Items. Prevent plastic pollution by choosing reusable alternatives or assembling a zero-waste kit. Explore our list of zero-waste stores in Ontario to simplify your journey towards zero-waste living. Keep a set of reusable utensils, a mug, and a straw at your desk to prevent the need for disposable items. Measure your reduction efforts using the Plastic Pollution Calculator and challenge others to see who can achieve the biggest reduction in single-use items.

Lead a Shoreline Clean-Up. Engage employees, friends, and family in the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-up and head to a nearby greenspace to pick up litter. You can also try the eco-friendly exercise, plogging,  and pick up litter while jogging.

Host a Zero-Waste Lunch. Host a healthy, vegetarian, zero-waste lunch or pot luck at your office and discuss how to limit waste generation. Discuss making other eco-friendly office-wide changes, like optimizing workflow by going paperless or ordering more plant-based proteins for catered meetings.

Pledge to Save the Environment. Set up a pledge board and have employees write down one environmental issue that they are passionate about. Encourage them to commit to helping that issue by making more sustainable choices.  

Spend Time in Nature. We’ve talked about ‘nature pills’ to reduce stress and taking a ‘forest bath’ to improve mental health. As the weather warms up, prioritize spending time outdoors  and appreciate the diversity of life on Earth.  

Stay Educated. Set time aside to educate yourself on sustainability issues. We recommend starting with Our Planet, a recently-released documentary that takes you around the world, examining how animals struggle to cope with climate change. If you care deeply about plastic pollution, learn more about which companies are the most wasteful and avoid purchasing from them. If at-risk-species are important to you, volunteer with or donate to your local conservation organizations, or use your purchasing power and avoid purchasing from companies that use palm oil. While climate change it can seem scary, it’s important to educate yourself and know what you and others can do to help make a difference.

Looking down on this great metropolis, the ingenuity with which we continue to reshape the surface of our planet is very striking, but it’s also sobering.

It reminds me of just how easy it is for us to lose our connection with the natural world.

Yet it’s on this connection that the future of both humanity and the natural world will depend.

It’s surely our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us, but for all life on Earth.

– David Attenborough

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