Dear Canada, Our Forests are Burning. Here’s what we can do

Tranquil lake scene in Canada with children

As a Canadian parent the scope and severity of this year’s wildfires, past catastrophic floods, and the UN IPCC reports, all keep me awake at night. But today, it isn’t fear that drives me, it is clear-eyed optimism and an undeniable urgency.

With over 400 wildfires burning in Canada the impacts of climate change are clear. Impacts that cannot be contained by a nation’s border. The effects of burning forests are showing up much further down in the US too.

This article from the David Suzuki Foundation simplifies the science and the connection between climate change and wild fires. The article is 5 years old and the situation around Canada has certainly worsened since then.

(This article was written as a follow-up to the Maple + Marigold newsletter, June 10, 2023 edition. Sign up for your copy.)

Here are a few things that I have shared before that can be implemented in our lives immediately:

  • Protect trees, fresh water and biodiversity, In Toronto and the area — that’s the Greenbelt (https://www.greenbelt.ca/learn). Find what you can do in your area to protect nature. For infrastructure, schools and hospitals, let’s seek an alternative that supports both people and the planet.
  • Use what you have before you head to the store. This sounds a little simplistic, right? Except that the impacts of over-consumption are being felt in every industry around the world – from fashion to food to consumer products and more.
  • Reduce waste, food and otherwise. Establish Buy Nothing, Sell Nothing groups in your community. They make swapping and giving away so much easier.
  • No more single-use, disposable plastic. Plastic production and disposal are one of the largest obstacles ahead of us in climate change, and reducing our dependence on the convenience they brings is a giant leap in the direction of progress.

Lastly, individual action is necessary but it’s not enough on its own. We need corporations of all sizes and governments at all levels to do their part. Here are some more ideas for big steps that will make an enormous difference. Take what you works for you and share it:

Push federal, provincial and municipal leaders to be daring and brave. It’s crucial to:

  • cut subsidies to the fossil fuel industry immediately
  • drastically reduce packaging in food and all else
  • swap to recycled paper and compostable materials

Buy from companies only if they are doing their part to reduce packaging and plastic use, and follow fair trade and fair hiring practices.

Most large-sized companies are not doing their part though. Here’s a transformative suggestion: boycott companies that produce plastic/ plastic-wrapped items and do not have an end-of-life disposal plan in place.

A final note about recycling. It’s a 1980s-style solution that wasn’t designed to handle the scale of plastic in circulation today. We must do better.

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About Puneeta

Author, Educator, Speaker

Puneeta is a writer, food advocate and guide for those who seek earth-friendly, delicious solutions that work for real life.

Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma, Food Writer, Climate Advocate, New cookbook - Good Food, Healthy Planet - out April 2024
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma
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