In the blink of an eye, another Earth Week has come and gone.
It was one more successful week of raising environmental awareness in Summerland.
I’m sure many citizens took the time to participate in a local event or at least contemplated making some type of change to better the environment.
After all, it’s pretty clear that we all need to become more environmentally responsible.
Social media would lead us to believe we are much more connected locally and cross-nationally on major environmental issues such as climate change.
After all, we can now track the quality of the air and water around us and share this data, we can closely follow environmental activists, and of course we can geotag or hashtag where we are at and what we are doing.
But does this truly make us more connected and inspire environmental action?
For the most part my answer is “no.”
The environmental sector has embraced social media rapidly and wholeheartedly, and it has unquestionably reshaped our means of communication.
However, I believe it’s become more of a trendy approach to suggest publicly that we are part of a bigger movement, when in reality, many people are doing little to become more environmentally responsible.
Clicking on links to support messages and changing your Facebook profile for an environmental (or other) cause is not a true reflection of commitment or long-term involvement.
Social media does have the potential to change the way that the environmental sector and all stakeholders interact, share information and make decisions.
But if we as individuals want to truly make a difference, I think we need to take another approach.
When we reflect on the many ways we can reduce our environmental impacts one particular solution stands out to me: slow down.
If there is one major thing I have noticed in the last two decades, it’s how fast paced our lives have become.
Most families I know are constantly on the move, and the idea of sitting around the family table is no longer a regular occurrence, and more of special occasion.
Most of the time we are so caught up in this desire to have what we want when we want it that we take shortcuts in order to continue the fast paced life.
It’s time to slow down.
Walk instead of drive, plan more meals around the table with your friends and family, or better yet, go for a picnic.
The more we slow down, put away our devices and spend time outdoors, the more connected we feel with nature.
This is particularly important for our youth.
Getting kids meaningful experiences outside is key to getting them to care about the environmental issues of our day.
This needs to happen all year long, not just on Earth Day.
And in the meantime, take the time to recycle, reuse or avoid plastic altogether.
Take shorter showers, ditch plastic straws, unplug appliances when not in use, plant a tree and consider waterwise plants for your garden.
Lisa Scott is a biologist and environmental consultant. She was a coordinator of Summerland’s recent Earth Day Celebration.