2019 has been a year full of climate strikes, global climate crisis news and a call of action for more sustainability. Governments, corporations, and institutions are taking the initiative to reduce waste and carbon emissions and increase eco-friendly practices. That being said, activism and protesting are at their peaks with large amounts of civilians taking a stand against practices that harm the planet.
In fact, with threats against global food production and rising oceans and atmospheric temperatures, the climate crisis is developing at a shocking speed and the human race is realizing it can no longer ignore what it is happening to the planet.
The United Nations released a report on March 28th, 2019 about how much damage has been done to the planet. The report warned the 7.7 billion people on this planet that if we continue on this path, and fail to take immediate action, the earth will see irreversible destruction in just eleven years.
WHAT IS HAPPENING GLOBALLY?
There has been a rise of youth activism, including leaders such as Greta Thunberg (16) of Sweden, Autumn Peltier (13) of Canada, Isra Hirsi (16) of the US and countless others. Young people have been at the forefront of the battle against climate change. These activists have held protests and marches against their local or national governments and have gained a lot of recognition.
Moreover, countries all over the world have begun to declare climate emergencies including nations like the UK and Canada. Nonetheless, very few are taking direct action to make the massive changes required to become more sustainable and to stop supporting environmentally damaging practices, like fossil fuel production. Entire companies are jumping into action and revaluating their footprints on the climate.
WHAT IS BEING DONE LOCALLY?
So, what is happening here in Kamloops? What is happening on the very campus we study? Thompson Rivers University has taken huge steps toward becoming more sustainable and eco-friendlier. TRU was awarded by the Sierra Club for being the “coolest school in 2019” regarding environmentally safe practices.
The Sierra Club ranked TRU on areas such as:
• Keeping waste out of streams and landfills
• No fossil fuel for heating
• Promotion of electric vehicles
• Acknowledgment of students and their sustainable practices
The Sierra Club is an environmental organization founded by John Muir in 1892. It was found in San Francisco but has since branched out into Canada and even right here in British Columbia! The organization is adamant about protecting the land and wilderness while sparking inspiration in people to do their part in protecting the environment.
“Sierra Club Canada Foundation empowers people to be leaders in protecting, restoring and enjoying healthy and safe ecosystems.”
(Mission Statement, Sierra Club Canada Foundation Website)
The award from the Sierra Club for “Coolest School” came days after TRU was ranked number one under “Energy” by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for universities in Canada (that offer master’s programs) with the highest sustainability efforts. As students of TRU, we should feel immense pride in the fact that our university won this award out of nearly 300 institutes across North America. Thompson Rivers University was judged amongst schools such as Arizona State University and Berkeley!
HOW WAS TRU AWARDED “COOLEST SCHOOL”
Thompson Rivers University’s campus features its very own (and well developed) sustainability office which is adamant about promoting a healthy space for students to study and faculty to work while tending to future needs of the local and global environment. The sustainability office is highly transparent and communicates openly with the university population and the local community.
Here are just a few of the initiatives procured by the sustainability office and TRU include:
• Actively monitoring energy use across campus
• Energy-efficient building designs (solar power)
• Zero-Waste, Compost and Recycle bins in hallways
• Rideshare program and UPASS
• Clubs for students such as TRU ECO and others
• Promoting Waste Reduction Week (October 21- 25 for TRU)
Sustainability on campus is an on-going process, and there is never a need to stop developing and implementing new initiatives. And this is likely not the last year of awards for TRU. Students and faculty are encouraged to learn more about what they can do to aid in the conservation of the environment and Mother Earth.
Some resources that can help individuals include:
• Thompson Rivers University’s Sustainability website page: What Can I do?
• Green living websites such as GreenLivingShow.ca and GlobalStewards.org
• YouTube channels that promote sustainability such as Eco Boost and Heal Your Living
It does not matter when or how you start living and supporting sustainability, all that matters is that you act seriously and commit yourself to do your part. Every small step counts and if 7.7 billion people took one small step towards supporting the environment and climate, the impact would be enough to save ourselves and our only home.