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Earth Day Canada 2020: Keeping our distance, but taking environmental action together

by Municipal World
in Environment, Innovation, Public Participation, Sustainability

In honour of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the organization Earth Day Canada is inviting citizens to take simple and concrete actions – at home.

For the 2020 edition of its campaign, the organization is also offering activities and tools to assist municipalities in their role as leaders in the ecological transition. Earth Day Canada also announced that its reach is now pan-Canadian and that it will support citizens and organizations from coast to coast to coast in efforts to protect the environment.

“Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, cancelling Canada’s Earth Day was out of the question. We can all celebrate and take action for the Earth, even if we are at home,” explained Pierre Lussier, Director of Earth Day Canada. “Citizens across the country are mobilized and ready to make an effort for our planet, either through simple actions or a radical shift in the way they conduct their daily lives. Whether during the crisis or afterward, having a positive impact on our environment starts with everyday actions at home and in our community.”

Transformative Incrementalism: A journey to sustainability

A Campaign that Encourages Participation from Home

As part of this new campaign, Earth Day Canada encourages citizens to take action for the environment as part of their daily lives. To mark the occasion, the organization unveiled a new webpage, entitled #EarthDayAtHome, with suggestions for activities Canadians can do from home. Each day, for 22 days, a suggestion will be shared across Earth Day Canada’s social media, accompanied by the same hashtag.

Citizens are also invited to produce a 20-second video in which they pledge to take daily action for the benefit of the environment (e.g., make their own environmentally friendly hand soap, plan their meals to reduce food waste, start composting at home). A compilation of these videos will be broadcast for the celebration of Earth Day on April 22, a virtual event to which the general public will be invited.

“Earth Day, especially in a period of global lockdown, is the perfect opportunity to rethink our habits and to implement concrete methods for improving them once and for all. Let’s take the time to do the things we’re constantly putting off for another day. It’s now or never,” said Edith Cochrane, actress and co-spokesperson of the Earth Day 2020 campaign. “Let’s finally plan out how to live a zero-waste lifestyle and fill our pantries with products bought in bulk without the packaging, let’s make the switch to bars of shampoo instead of bottles, let’s plants seeds and cook meals without meat. Let’s commit to taking a different approach as we resume the course of our day-to-day lives.”

Cochrane’s point was emphasized by Thomas Mulcair, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Earth Day Canada and co-spokesperson for the 2020 campaign.

“The actions we take now, at home, will lay the groundwork for a day-to-day commitment to our community and to our city, even beyond the health crisis,” Mulcair said. “Protecting the environment is an issue that concerns us all and that unites us in these more difficult times.”

Municipalities Mobilizing

Municipalities are at the heart of the ecological transition. They have a central role in supporting citizens and organizations, and in facilitating the adoption of daily habits for a sustainable future. For this reason, Earth Day Canada is inviting municipalities across the country to become partners for the 2020 campaign.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who is also municipal spokesperson for the Earth Day campaign, explained her community is taking action to protect the planet, which also means a better quality of life in local neighbourhoods.

“We will work tirelessly to reduce our ecological footprint and strengthen our resilience. The current health crisis has made us realize just how interconnected we are, and that we must prepare collectively for the major challenges that lie ahead,” Plante said. “We call on all our fellow citizens to take action at their own scale. I would like to extend a special invitation to Canadian municipalities to embark on this journey with us and amplify our collective impact.”

Nearly 50 municipalities are already partners in the 2020 campaign, nearly a dozen of which have committed to planting 50 trees to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Originally, the tree planting was to take place simultaneously across the country on April 22. Due to the social distancing measures, the tree planting will be staggered throughout the year.

For more information on the municipal component of the Earth Day campaign, visit https://earthday.ca/april-22/campaign/municipalities-mobilizing/MW

✯ Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in Dr. Dianne Saxe’s article: Addressing the climate and environmental crisis. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.


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