An Environment-History Lesson
Environmental concerns reach as far back as the year 630 AD – I know, a year without 19XX or 20XX; must not even exist, but I assure you that important strides for almost everything we see or use today is thanks to what happened in history.
In the year 630, Caliph Abu Bakr was a father-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (through his daughter Aisha), and the first of the Rashidun Caliphs. Abu Bakr was initially a rich and respected businessman, but he later became one of Muhammad’s closest companions. In this role, he was present through a number of military conflicts and in this position, he brought up the very first recorded environmental revelation; “[to] bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for you food.”
Drawn directly from Contemporary Islam: Dynamic, not Static:
Abu Bakr was able to emphasize the importance in keeping the trees, the food, the environment safe even through going into battle. Now, that is something that resonates with me; not so much about war, but the fact that even through some unpredictable circumstances, a major priority is to keep the environment safe and undamaged.
Fast forward nearly 1400 years later – past various imposed bans to reinforce environmental health and hitting the first billion in world population – the first National Youth Climate Conference, Power Shift, took place in Washington, D.C. which garnered the interest of over 5,000 youth. This was the start to something amazing – the first time where environmentalism could be seen from a youth’s perspective instead of an old scholar with a PHD. To follow, Earth Day Network co-presented National Cleanup Day and World Cleanup Day in 2019 which was the first ever US-wide cleanup event.
While taking a step back, even if your actions cannot compare to the impact created by those individuals or organizations across the world, don’t think that you need to replicate or match their quote unquote level of impact. By taking the action of any caliber is already superseding the impact of doing nothing. By doing nothing, it could cause even more damaging effects.
If you feel that you haven’t created enough impact in this space, there’s no worries – there is always time to contribute, but it’s better sooner than later. To further emphasize, the size of your current impact does not matter as long as you are working towards a greater goal and sharing the common goal of preserving our environment and implementing sustainability habits in your day-to-day.
Actions to Take
As some of us may already know, there are so many different ways that you can support any cause. To keep things shorter, I’ll cover 3 of them:
- Investing Your Time is often the first thing that comes to mind when I think about contributing to something whether it be learning in school or contributing to a rightful cause. I like to think that while investing your time, you get to experience everything great and not so great that comes along with the experience; learning is the biggest part and you’ll definitely get to learn about the cause while being immersed in your volunteering experience. If you’re interested, pick an organization that aligns with your sustainability and environmental targets, and see what you can do to help out.
- Investing Your Money is something else that usually the number two option in these cases; an action that you can take if you don’t have enough time, or if you’re financially stable enough. This route is always welcomed as well. My go-to would be to find organizations or funds that really resonate with you, and contribute however much your financial situations allows you to. In this case, you’ll be able to provide some funding to organizations that have an established direction and cause. Some links that I found that might spark some interest:
- Charitable Impact Environmental Charities
- Canada Helps Environmental Charities
- UBC Seeds Sustainability Fund
- Alberta Water Sustainability
Investing Your Efforts can potentially create the most impact; a combination of the two points above, you can educate yourself and educate others while implementing other actions as well. Some ideas include, creating your own environment- or sustainability-related organization, or writing blogs (similar to this one – check out: PickWaste Register to learn more) upon great ideas. If interested, I did find a few resources that would apply for grants, funding, etc.
- University of Waterloo Sustainability Action Fund
- Canada Environment Climate Change
- On top of many financial institutions and other industry organizations
If your plans cannot be executed at the moment, try to take full advantage of the current times and use this time at home to create an action plan for post-quarantine to invest your time, your money, or your efforts. For those actions that can be, go ahead and execute them now!
The Compounding Effect of Actions
Now, it doesn’t take a historical leader or a massive corporation to create change. These changes don’t occur over night, but with care, nurturing and persistence, you will soon be able to reap the successes of your continuous campaigning. All of your smaller actions will be able to compound over time to create massive change. There are so many life examples that could be brought in to showcase proof: fixed-income investments, population (incredible exponential growth since hitting the first billion in 1820), and social media content just to name a few. If even a few people grasp onto the topic, the results can be infectious. If you believe in it, stick with it.