Oh no. Government control, that’s a sensitive topic, but don’t worry. This is nothing like Big Brother. Let’s talk sustainability, when I think sustainability in our society, I think of individuals doing their own part, which is awesome! But, I don’t think we have enough people involved yet. We need everyone on board with the mission towards a more sustainable lifestyle!

What It’s All About:

Sustainability; when I first joined the PickWaste team about a year ago, I had no idea what sustainability meant to this organization. But, I was so intrigued on how passionate these two youth leaders were about what they’ve created; the mission that they brought across to thousands of students across Ontario, it was amazing! In my early stages after joining PickWaste, this one phrase would be drilled into my head: small consistent actions. This simple phrase drove all the motivation behind the operations of this organization. I soon got to know what Sam and Dillon’s perspectives were on sustainability. PickWaste doesn’t just help clean our environment, deliver speaking engagements to spread awareness in schools and companies, nor deliver content online, but it’s an accumulation of all of the above while doing so consistently.

From my point-of-view, Sam and Dillon didn’t think that sustainability was only meant for certain individuals, rather everyone can do their part. So, they took it upon themselves to try and spread this message to as many people as possible through their various initiatives.

For us to be sustainable, we need to be aware of our purpose, our principles, and our consumption. What exactly are we going to do to become sustainable? What do we value when living a clean and sustainable life? Where does all of our consumption come from? Tracking our daily consumptions would help a ton, especially if we want to commit to this form of healthy living.

Actions from the City of Toronto:

Photo by Richard Kidger on Unsplash

  • TransformTO: Toronto’s ambitious climate action strategy to set long-term, low-carbon goals to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions and improve health, grow the economy, and improve social equity. The City of Toronto’s TransformTO project has a long-term goal of becoming net-zero by 2050.
    • District Energy: Toronto’s climate action plan to reduce emissions from buildings and help the City reach its greenhouse gas reduction target. According to the City of Toronto website, buildings generate about half of the greenhouse gas emissions in Toronto.
    • Community Energy Planning
  • Greening City Operations: Toronto’s program to reduce the environmental impact and costs associated with City operations, and support the achievement of key goals and targets, including Toronto’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.
    • Demand Response: aimed at reducing the City’s electricity consumption during periods of peak demand, which generates revenue and contributes to Toronto’s overall energy security and resilience.
    • Energy Conservation: a number of programs and initiatives in place to reduce energy use in municipal facilities, improving energy resilience and managing costs
    • Renewable Energy: renewable energy technologies required on City-owned buildings and facilities by 2020, where feasible.
  • Resilience Strategy: to drive action at the City and from business, academia, non-profit organizations, and residents to build a city where everyone can thrive.
people walking in front of gray concrete building

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

From what I can see, the City of Toronto’s version of sustainability is to be resilient against greenhouse gas emissions, and they’ve implemented various measures to obtain net zero emissions across Toronto. I think their strategies are great. When governments intervene with issues such as these, a larger presence is established.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

It’s awesome to see that the leaders of our communities can string together some aid and strategies for some additional effort. With enforced policies, businesses, citizens, and others will follow, but to add on, I believe the City can put more effort into bringing this message across to citizens and businesses through social media, or other media outlets. Sustainable living often has a shadow cast across it, but by involving the youth, and millennials in this mission we would have more than half of the cities population standing by sustainable living. After all, we are the ‘hip’ age group that can set the most powerful trends.

Fact Check:

According to Stats Can (2016) data, about 1.5 million residences of the 2.7 million Toronto citizens fall between 0 – 44 years of age. This age group has the most influence over our current and future state of the City of Toronto. My belief is that if the City were to involve this group in their plans, it would add to the effectiveness, and possibly cut down on time to achieve net zero emissions.

If we want to live in a cleaner and more sustainable city, we all must play our parts in the bigger picture. If it’s warm, feel free to ride your bike to work to cut down on car emissions, open the windows during the day instead of flicking on the switch (you’ll get some natural light and fresh air!), or even shop locally for everything from foods to products. It’s a great experience visiting your local farm or farmers market. Tons of family fun!

There are so many resources available on the internet for a more sustainable way of living. We can all try and cut down on whatever we can. A great way for our City to do so is following the global leaders in sustainability and green living, such as Switzerland, France, Denmark, and Sweden (2018 – Environmental Performance Index). What are they doing that we aren’t?

Most Sustainable City:

white and blue ship on sea under clear blue sky

Photo by Rhiannon Elliott on Unsplash

According to the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index from 2016, Zurich in Switzerland was named the most sustainable city in the world. In 1998, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich imagined reducing the average First World citizen to reduce their overall energy consumption to about 2 kWh per hour by the year 2050, without lowering their standard of living; this was called the 2000-watt society. Switzerland, one of the global leaders in recycling and waste management, managed to secure the 2000-watt society title without lowering their standard of living in 18 years. To translate that into everyday lingo, 2kWh is equivalent to powering the average oven for an hour, and the average refrigerator requires about 2 kWh of energy per day. According to various sources, Switzerland has maintained a top 10 spot in the best quality of life around the world for many consecutive years now.

The Swiss government has managed to create an environment in which so many people follow their lead in becoming one of the first countries to achieve sustainability goals such as the 2000-watt society. I believe that if we could follow suit in positioning ourselves with ambitious goals, and intense media attention, we too can follow in Switzerland’s footsteps.

What do you say? Let’s bring this to Toronto and Canada!

If this post has intrigued you in any way to pursue a more sustainable way of living, please be a team player and look for ways that you can reduce your personal carbon footprint. Look up what plans your city or town has, and try your best to follow their guidelines. If your city doesn’t have any, why do you suggest some? Pick up the phone and dial your city service line, and send in some inquiries.

“When you put the whole picture together, recycling is the right thing to do.” – Pam Shoemaker

Simple things such as recycling properly should be implemented in your life as we do have separate bins for those now. If you’re a bit confused about what goes into which bin, you can look up your local municipalities recycling guidelines, they will help you sort out what goes into which bin for sure.

Final Thoughts:

At the end of the day, all you have to do is find cleaner and more sustainable ways of living, and make sure you are consistent with them. All of your actions will help support local development and preserve our home for future generations. Remember: #smallconsistentactions.

“Small consistent actions lead to massive global changes.” – Sam Demma

If you’re interested in learning more about what Toronto has done so far, you can check out their progress on the City of Toronto’s website or here: https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/water-environment/environmentally-friendly-city-initiatives/reports-plans-policies-research/environmental-progress-report/. There are various environmental reports and additional information regarding goals, targets, and policies implemented to obtain a net-zero emissions city.

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