Sustainability Through the Decades: 2000’s – TODAY

Sustainability Through the Decades: 2000’s – TODAY

For our final monthly blog series of ‘Sustainability Through the Decades’, we consider the 2000’s – today. We explore the evolution of anti-single use plastic, the progression of the climate crisis, as well as the rapidly evolving forms of eco-anxiety common among millennial and Gen Z populations.

Single use plastic has become a primary concern in recent decades. In 1997, researcher Charles Moore was sailing the Pacific Ocean and discovered what is now known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ - one of the largest accumulations of plastic waste threatening marine life. As of 2021, this mass has reached a size of 1.6 million square kilometers (approximately 3 times the size of France). This is merely one example of the lasting damage caused by single use plastic accumulation. Spurred by the reality of this waste and a variety of protests and online movements, such as #BeatPlasticPollution, numerous countries have begun to enact some form of legislation or ban on single-use plastic. The international effects of these protests have aptly made the anti-plastic movement one of the most successful worldwide environmental campaigns, forcing big businesses and political parties to adapt business models and legislature to reflect these changing sentiments. While these changes have had a positive impact on plastic production, it is important to remember as consumers that single use plastic isn’t an isolated problem; rather, it demonstrates the realities of rapid consumption that are rampant across industries and other disposables. 

Throughout these decades, there has also been a shared concern for the evolving climate crisis, tightly linked to international protests and notable activists working to strengthen these conversations and enact realistic change. One such activist based in Canada is Autumn Peltier. Autumn is from the Wiikwemkoong First Nation; she has been fighting for clean access to drinking water for First Nations communities and general water protection for over 10 years. Internationally, Greta Thunberg has also become a notable activist, sparking conversation and action on climate issues across the globe. These individuals, among others, have been instrumental in sparking rebellions for change and placing political pressure on international climate decision makers.

While these movements have led to actionable items supporting sustainability, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the intensity of these situations. Eco-anxiety has become a reality for many young individuals afraid of what their ecological future might become. Inundated with predictions about how our world might look in the next few years, and a variety of news coverage which has felt apocalyptic at times, it has been hard to remain hopeful. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by our current climate crisis, know that you are not alone and that there is power in collective conversation and mobilization. Across the decades we’ve explored in this series, we’ve seen how action comes from shared collective voices and bravery through protests both in person and online. Together, we can envision a sustainable future and fight to make this a reality! 

We thank you for joining us these past few months and invite you to consider how you might envision your involvement in eco-movements: What does a sustainable future look like to you? How might that future be imagined? We’re part of a big, beautiful world and it’s our job to ensure the relationship is reciprocal!

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