In my first two years at Western, I studied psychology and played as a goalie on the field hockey team. I grew up attending summer camp each year and have taught canoeing there each summer of university (including last year, virtually). I am happiest camping, canoeing, and finding anywhere I can hike. I would not be who I am today without the experiences I had camping which is why sustainability is so important to me. I try to live every day by taking actions that actively preserve wilderness spaces for future generations.
Sustainability is engaging in processes that reduce environmental harm locally and globally. Sustainability also requires supporting low-income individuals and those living below the poverty line as these communities will be the first and hardest hit by the financial, social, and environmental impacts of the climate crisis.
I see sustainability as a necessity to business operations, not an optional addition. To me, my generation has an ethical responsibility to act sustainably beyond what is mandated by government standards. As someone interested in pursuing a career in the manufacturing or construction industries, sustainability plays a more obvious role than in other industries like consulting. As such, it requires a far more conscious and deliberate approach to incorporating sustainable practices.
I have been attending and working at an all-girl’s summer camp for 13 years. During this time, I developed a love for the Canadian Shield landscape and have been able to pass that on to campers. This mutual love for the space we occupy for two months each year gives us as counsellors a tangible platform to facilitate discussions on sustainability. This includes conversations about preserving nature as we are on canoe trips, actively practicing low-impact and leave-no-trace camping. Since 2016, I have helped facilitate more powerful discussions on our responsibility to the environment on stolen Indigenous land.
Having this immediate connection to nature makes discussions about the climate crisis feel more meaningful to campers, many of whom live in Toronto or other densely urbanized areas for 11 months of the year. This is the beginning of any of these campers’ sustainability education journeys and it is a pleasure knowing their motivations to preserve the environment started because of the conversations we had with them at summer camp.