Climate Catastrophe, and Other Bedtime Stories

About two months ago I sarcastically commented to my husband (and #twitter) that ‘climate change’ needed a rebrand. I felt it was far too soft a term for the crisis we are in, climate catastrophe seemed more fitting. I mean we grew up with ACID RAIN in the 80’s and its name scared the shit out of all of us, so we solved the problem. Anyway, a few weeks later I happened to watch VICE which claims that the term ‘climate change’ was intentionally coined by the republican party to down-play the climate issue with voters. Coincidence? Regardless of your politics our climate is changing, rapidly and not for the better. As a business leader dedicated to helping companies with a strong social and environmental purpose achieve success, and a mother of two young girls I thought it was about time to share my triple fact checked views and offer some hope and suggestions for other like-minded people out there who may also be lying in bed each night wondering how to save the world.  Here’s my short list and where I’m at on this journey. These ideas may not be for everyone, so let’s be kind and open-minded when we comment, share and critique. My only ask it that we keep the environment top of mind when we make decisions about our government, purchases, and lifestyle.


1. Demand change from the government and / or support climate policies you like. Understand the details of policy change. For example, when the Ontario PC Government cancelled cap and trade the public schools lost a major source of funding. Either way make your voice heard and know (exactly) what your party stands for, and what proposed changes (really) mean. Tax cuts are not everything.


2. Make your next car hybrid or electric. Norway imposes hefty taxes on conventional cars, but the country fully exempts electric (and hydrogen-powered) vehicles. As a result, electric vehicles are comparatively more affordable in Norway than they are in most other countries around the world. In Canada, the federal government is introducing a $5000 incentive this year.  This link will also help you find your new electric vehicle. An electric vehicle is on my 2020 to buy list.


3. Stop single use anything. The EU reached an agreement on it and you can take a personal pledge here. There are alternatives. Say no to straws, plastic bags, water bottles, plastic cutlery etc. Decline it and say why. I’m struggling with take-out (we’ve cut down). Some markets will allow you to bring your own reusable containers. I am open to your suggestions!


4. This includes Tim Horton’s and Starbucks! Get a mug when you stay in or bring a to-go cup. Just do it and be happy that your kids will have a better future.


5. Eat less meat. You need very little and agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases. Even paleo and keto people don’t need much meat. I’ve been on and off vegetarian for over 20 years. Though I have a natural preference for vegetables (I feel the same way about salad as you may feel about steak) I eat meat and fish very occasionally and only when I really crave it.


6. Travel less for business – video conferencing is cheap and it works. I use an amazing video conferencing solution called ZOOM.


7. When you do travel by air consider buying carbon offset credits. Carbon Zero is one option. It’s not perfect and doesn’t solve the problem in the short-term however it does fund projects that will help mitigate climate catastrophe over the long-term.  


8. Get over fast fashion. Save your money, buy the best quality you can afford then max it out or pass it down. Seriously! I still wear items I bought ten years ago. The rest has been donated or passed on to friends.


9. Support sustainable business, B Corps or similar. These companies are verified by a third-party for their environmental and social transparency and accountability. My marketing company is pending B Corp certification (and will be fully certified within a few months).


10. Shop local. We all love Amazon but the supply chain is sure not environmentally friendly. I know this is hard. Really, so hard. Consider it though. You will also be supporting local jobs and local retailers.


11. Say no to plastic bags, tissue paper any extra packaging that they wrap that thing you don’t need in to make us forget about our problems (climate change) for a while. Try it – you will be surprised at how much you can fit in your purse. Better yet keep a collapsible bag in your bag. Keep your grocery bags in your trunk and if you do end up with tissue or wrapping recycle it when you give your next gift.


12. Switch to earth friendly, organic, local non-GMO products when possible. I’m 80% there. Water and vinegar is a great cleaning solution and you can add a little baking soda for mild abrasion. Basically, I’m doing what my grandma did.


13. Buy products without an outer box. It’s just a marketing billboard (says the marketer). This includes fancy packaging on produce. If your favourite product comes triple wrapped ask the manufacturer to make the change. It will save them money!!


14. Walk, bike, skateboard, scoot and take public transit (I get it, that last one is where I fall way short). My plan is point #2. And I love walking.


15. Talk about it. Share advice with friends. Get outside and remind yourself of what we might lose. We can’t take the trees, fresh air and sunshine for granted much longer.


16. Get Bullfrog Power and encourage your neighbours into being environmentally responsible with a bullfrog sign. DONE!


17. Renovating? Donate to Habitat for Humanity and ask for green disposal. You may even get a tax credit. Last year I saw a house being demolished with a full kitchen, including appliances still inside.


18. Invest green. I have added Copower to my portfolio and divested all fossil fuels. 


19. China is not buying much of our plastic any longer see point 3. 


20. Go easy on yourself, my climate guilt is off the charts. But if we help each other we can fix this problem. We may see a short-term economic downturn but there is far less risk than what’s predicted if we do nothing.

Brand for Benefit is a visionary marketing agency that services sustainable, socially responsible clients. Over twenty years experience building #1 brands.


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