TAG: Sustainability

Tricks of the Trade – 1

Social change marketing

For a few years now, “community-based social marketing” has been a buzz phrase for behaviour change programs.  Espoused by Doug McKenzie-Mohr and Will Smith (1999) in their book Fostering Sustainable Behaviour, community-based social marketing offers tools to help environmentalists to appeal to large segments of the population. The goal is to deliver programs that remove the barriers and enhance the benefits for widespread social change. Social change campaigns are therefore underpinned by a clear identification of the barriers to behaviour change (eg. people who do not grow food in their backyards may perceive it to be hard work and expensive)…. read more

Organic Agriculture


Current industrial farming methods are responsible for mass deforestations; reduction of biodiversity; mining of non-renewable groundwater; and pollution in the form of pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics, and greenhouse gas emissions. Many critics of the organic movement argue that while organic farming is nice in theory because it’s so much better for the environment, it’s not a feasible method for feeding the world. A recent United Nations (2008) agricultural study found that although organic growing methods produce lower yields under some conditions, when best management practices are applied, they actually produce significantly better yields. Furthermore, such methods produce more healthy and… read more

Growing Your Own

Cherry Tomatoes

Most people know that driving generates carbon emissions, which contribute to global warming. However, not everyone is aware of the impact that our current food system has on the environment. A UK study conducted in 2001 found that while a typical family’s year of driving generates around 4.4 tons of CO2, producing, processing, packaging, and distributing that family’s food generates 8 tons of CO2. Our current food system is unsustainable. While traditional agricultural methods require the equivalent of half a calorie of energy to produce a calorie of food, the modern system typically requires around 10 fossil fuel energy calories… read more

Which Activist Are You?

Which environmental activist are you?

Take your pick. Apparently you can be light green, bright green, dark green…or no shade of green at all. As environmentalists, it’s interesting for us to not only consider our personal “shade of green”, but to also reflect on the specific roles we play as activists. When we challenge our own environmental perspectives (not just the perceptions of others), we have the opportunity to grow professionally and personally. We have the opportunity to be more effective in our actions toward a healthy and prosperous world. It all starts apparently with a certain shade of green… For those of you who… read more

Fish Farming

Fish Farming

Rapid industrialization of the fishing industry has come at the expense of sustainability. If current consumption rates persist, some scientists have estimated that our fish stocks will collapse by the middle of this century, crushing the livelihoods of millions of people and eliminating a critical food source. Industrial fishing is associated with a number of problems, including overfishing of various species and unnecessary killing of commercially useless bycatch including dolphins, whales, sharks, other fish, and seabirds. Certain industrial fishing methods also damage ecologically sensitive areas. However, fish farming can also create problems. Ecologically valuable habitats have been destroyed and local… read more

Questioning Biofuels

Biofuels not the answer

Despite President Obama failing to adequately discuss climate change during this campaign, he has discussed renewable energy programs to combat climate change. He has maintained energy policy which uses an array of renewable energy sources and fossil fuels, taking a multi-faceted approach to the policy. However, within the array of renewable energy sources lies biofuels, which may cause more problem than good. Biofuels are typically from agricultural sources, and thus are difficult to sustain for years on end. Additionally, the environmental sustainability of the lands they are grown on comes into question, and it is unknown if the energy benefits… read more

Finding Common Ground

Successful environmental communication

Successful environmental communication and education projects aren’t just plucked from thin air. Programs need to be strategic. As such, they should be carefully designed. To this end, a key to success is the extent to which our messages align with the values and aspirations of our target audiences, the groups of people with whom we work. It’s not easy talking about the natural world with people who don’t seem to care about it. The trick is to identify people’s values and aspirations, then ascertain the most effective way to navigate the sometimes challenging terrain of what people hold dear in… read more

Where Do You Stand?

Human impact and the environment

How deeply have you considered your views of the environment and humanity’s contribution to what many describe as our current ecological crisis? The answer might seem simple: “Sure, I know where I stand”. But do you know where your views are located on the sustainability continuum? Consider, for example, whether you agree or disagree with the following sets of statements (adapted from the work of Environmental Education academic, Vicki Keliher 2012). As you consider these statements, ask yourself “why” you believe what you do, and (importantly) “how” your position affects the way you live and work: People are essentially different… read more

Live Sustainably. It’s Hard

Are you really living sustainably?

If you think you live sustainably, you don’t

The Power of Persuasion

The Art of Communication

If only sustainability could harness the power of love