Rethinking the environment

The Centre in the Square was buzzing with David Suzuki fans last Saturday as concerned citizens gathered for reThink Waterloo, a day of workshops, displays and a keynote from the professor and environmentalist.

Suzuki was greeted with a standing ovation from an audience of young to elderly fans.

He began by stating that rethinking our lifestyle is no longer just for “birkenstock-wearing treehuggers,” and that the Waterloo region has the chance to be a model for communities across Canada.

The tone then became slightly more negative as Suzuki proceeded to explain how humans are destroying the planet, as our species has “become a geological force.”

In the last century, huge changes have taken place on the planet that have been detrimental to the environment.

When Suzuki was born in 1936 smallpox and polio were problems, and computers and birth control didn’t exist.

He was taught that money was a tool to get necessities, but today “we’ve created an economy that is primarily to service our desires.”

Noting the faults in this, Suzuki said, “Our wants are limitless, but we don’t live in a limitless world.”

He stressed the importance of moving away from disposable items such as razors or batteries.

“When the party’s over, someone’s gotta start cleaning up the mess,” said Suzuki before moving on to complain about the economy.

We cannot continually grow, was the environmentalist’s main point, because the earth has its limits.

When considering the usefulness of trees, we can’t simply look at the economic benefits, we must realize how trees help us to keep breathing and consider that an externality.

As a final recommendation to the Waterloo region, Suzuki suggested asking our elders what it was like to live in the region and ensuring that our children and grandchildren can have the same experiences.

While there wasn’t time for many questions before going to the book signing Suzuki was able to address a few audience members.

The final comment was on the Oct. 24 day of action, which caused Suzuki to encourage everyone to get out and “tell our so-called leaders that we’d like some leadership and vision.”

Prior to Suzuki’s presentation, regional high school students presented the Seven Generation Challenge, which gave concrete examples on how to live a less wasteful life.

The students had been working on the challenge for the last six months in areas of food, water, shelter, transportation and waste.

ReThink Waterloo was started by the local charity All Our Relations in combination with other groups such as the University of Waterloo Sustainability Project. This year, the focus was on a specific theme: sustainable living.

Throughout the day, many workshops were held on topics such as car shares and home energy efficiency.

Organizer Antoni Paleshi explained, “With bringing David Suzuki to the Centre in the Square, the real point is to get people asking that question and to give them some answers, some resources that they can use to get started.”