Key points

You care about the environment but don't know exactly where to get started. You want to make a difference but individual action feels too small to matter. Why not just wait for the government or big businesses to take action? I think this is the mindset that a lot of us have towards the climate crisis (I certainly did). Somewhere in my mind though, I knew that solving the climate crisis would have to be more than a waiting game. That's why I started by asking this question: How can I help accelerate environmental action within my community?

But does individual and community action really matter in the bigger picture? After doing a lot of reading, it appears the answer is yes.

Globally, there is a need for action (no matter how small) towards sustainable practices. The take-make-waste model litters our oceans with billions of tons of trash every year, greenhouse gases are rising at an unprecedented rate, and it is estimated that in a matter of three generations, billions of people will be forced to live in conditions now considered uninhabitable. The question isn’t whether or not there is a climate crisis, but it is whether or not we will take action before it is too late.

Following this need, governments and businesses across the globe have set some ambitious goals towards reaching Net-Zero and progressing towards a more circular economy. The stage is set for change to occur, and yet experts are saying Canada will not be able to meet our goals at this current rate (Powers, 2019) and the same can be said for many other countries.

Notably, lack of knowledge is not what constitutes this delay. There are tons of case studies where communities, organizations, and entire countries have successfully implemented exemplary environmental stewardship. Take Denmark for example. Labelled as the greenest country in the world, their communities are filled with highways for bicycles, companies using only renewable energy sources, and groundwater so clean, you can drink it directly. So why then, are these practices not the norm everywhere?

While there is a multitude of factors that constitute this delay, one of the key challenges that stand in the way of solving the climate crisis is the gap that exists between knowledge and action (Knutti, 2019). Conscious and deliberate action is needed, not just from our government or large corporations, but from communities across the nation if we want to meet our ambitious climate goals by 2030.