It is not easy to define what it means to live sustainably, but if we draw from our previous definition of sustainability, it essentially boils down to leaving the world a better place than you found it. Or at the very least, not making it worse. While this should be considered a fundamental ideal for all human beings, it is especially true for those with children; after all, you’re raising the next generation and preparing to pass off your planet to them. This belief is a core component of Maple Ridge’s sustainability goals. If we are not working towards a better present and future for all living things, then what are we working for? You can visit the Green Ideas Network to learn tips and strategies about living sustainably without drastically altering your lifestyle.
One big way to start living a more sustainable lifestyle is to reconnect yourself with nature. Global trends like urbanization, globalization, and technological innovation have allowed us to disconnect ourselves from the wonder and natural beauty of our world. Exposure to this natural world improves our health and well-being by reducing stress and mental fatigue. Disconnecting ourselves from nature causes us to view our planet as an object available to be exploited, rather than a living system that we are but a small part of.
The best way to reconnect with nature is to get out and experience it first-hand. Take walks in the evening, or go for a hike on the weekend. You can use Maple Ridge’s recreational maps and guides to help you plan your trip. If you’re looking to get out of the city, take a drive into the interior and see some of the sights that our province has to offer. The Lower Mainland of British Columbia is one of the most beautiful places in the world, perfect for taking a step back and appreciating the natural gifts that we are provided.
If you don’t know where to start or are having a hard time finding motivation, consider taking David Suzuki’s 30x30 Challenge. The challenge inspires people to reconnect with nature by asking them to spend 30 minutes outside every day for 30 days. Their website provides the latest research surrounding the positive impacts of being outside, helpful tips to get you started, and toolkits to help get your school or workplace involved.
For families with children, NatureKids BC is an exploration organization that runs a province-wide network of volunteer-led nature clubs. Their intention is to get kids outside so they can explore, play, and learn about nature. Members also have access to NatureWILD magazine, the only nature magazine created specifically for BC youth, and programs that offer cool rewards for exploring the great outdoors.
Another way to get children outside is to register for the Suzuki Superhero Challenge. This challenge provides step-by-step instructions for four fun, educational, outdoor activities to get kids engaged with nature. Teachers are encouraged to register their classes for the Superhero Challenge as the program offers Connecting with Nature educational guides for children from kindergarten to grade eight.
Teachers interested in getting their students outside might also want to download Metro Vancouver’s Educator’s guide to outdoor classrooms, which will help them engage students in a more open learning environment.
Youth are incredibly important for the development of a sustainably society. This is not emphasized nearly enough. Youth in our community are the next generation. They are the group that will inherit the Earth from us, and we must teach them how to learn from our mistakes, so they are better equipped to address issues in the future. Youth programs are a great way to get children and young people involved with others their age who share their passion, imagination, and enthusiasm for sustainability and our natural world.
The City of Maple Ridge’s Recreation Department offers a variety of programs for children and youth to be active, make friends, learn, and have fun. They also organize summer daycamps to engage children and help them stay active over the course of their summer vacations.
The Environmental Youth Alliance is a non-profit charity that engages and empowers youth to create meaningful, positive action for our community and environmental health. Their programs and workshops help children and youth in urban environments enhance their well-being, build ecological leadership skills, and foster community connectivity by allowing them to experience and care for nature.
Through learning, leadership, collaboration and action, Metro Vancouver’s Youth4Action program supports the development and engagement of high-schoolers as youth leaders. This allows them to be a positive influence for their schools and school communities by inspiring them to be more sustainable.
Young people interested in developing solutions to sustainability challenges should also consider applying for the Impact! Youth Sustainability Program. Members of the program participate in an award winning experiential workshop and join a growing network of over 1200 past participants.
The Student Leadership in Sustainability (SLS) program helps educators inform students about twenty-first century issues like overconsumption and climate change; and provides them with tools they need to discover solutions in their lives and in their communities. Teachers registered in the program have access to six independent modules that focus on connecting personal values to a sustainable world view. Each module includes lesson plans, video clips, class activities and discussion questions, presentation rubrics, and SLS Award certificates for completion of that module.
Teachers looking to further educate their students about local sustainability should also browse the School Programs page on the Metro Vancouver website. Here you will be able to find information about sustainability fieldtrips that can be taken in the region, as well as register for professional development workshops centered on local sustainability.
Volunteering is a great way to get experience, meet new people, and have a positive impact on your community. Volunteers in our city play a major role in creating a sustainable, vibrant community that engages and involves citizens of all ages and walks of life. Check out volunteering opportunities within the City of Maple Ridge, or browse the links below to find a position within the community: