Tag Archives: Winnipeg

The Good Planet Project

There are a lot of good people in the world, although sometimes it may be hard to believe when we are bombarded with negativity, greed, and consumerism on all sides. I remember reading once that all that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.

Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to meet some of the people who are fighting the good fight. Dylan Leeder, the founder of the Good Planet Project and his travelling companion Brittney stopped in at Generation Green. It was one of many stops during their road trip across Canada.

When I first met them, they seemed like very humble and kind people. They had had trouble finding parking for their van, just like anyone else would in Downtown Winnipeg. When they arrived, we made sure to serve them some coffee from Acorn Cafe, and we just…talked.

In one short hour, I felt more inspired than I had all summer to make a change in my lifestyle, to travel, to be open minded…

And I want to share this feeling with you. This is the feeling that can spark a movement, make changes, empower people.

So let’s start at the beginning. What is the Good Planet project?

The first thing you’ll see on their website is that the Good Planet Project is a documentary exploration of the people, lifestyles, and efforts that are dedicated towards the repair and conservation of our planet. Dylan has been driving across Canada in a self-made van, decked out with solar panels, trying to find the ways in which people are facing environmental issues in their own cities. Through photography, Dylan is also showing people the natural beauty of our country and inspiring us to protect it in order to keep it that way.

They told us about their travels and their goals. When we asked how they had found us, a small business in the heart of Winnipeg, they told us that after a quick Instagram search of ‘sustainability Winnipeg,’ we were the first thing to pop up. Although I’m happy that my workplace is apparently the hub of sustainable and healthy living in Winnipeg according to Instagram, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that there weren’t more results.

As we were talking, the conversation steered toward the difficulties of trying to change a system while still being a part of it.

Allow me to this explain further.

Dylan has had his own struggles with this. For over eight years, he worked in the advertising industry. The work took its toll on him. He felt a lot of guilt about the work that he did, the unnecessary products he encouraged people to buy, and how much of those products have ended up in a landfill. He goes into more detail on his website, so be sure to check that out.

I think that a lot of us can relate to this feeling. So much of the work that we do to support ourselves and our families involves doing things that may go against our values. Maybe that means sitting at a desk all day when you really wish you could be working outside. Maybe it means working in building or planning, and knowing that you have to tear down nature to build up a house or business or road. Maybe you work with food and drink, and see how much of it goes to waste every single day.

Within capitalism, we find so many contradictions. Not to get too technical here, but the exploitation that comes with capitalism – the exploitation of the worker, the environment, the children, the poor – is not sustainable, and eventually it will fall apart. Our planet does not contain unlimited resources, and sooner  or later we are going to run out. It’s just a question of what we’re going to use up first.

But in order to do something about this, it’s pretty much impossible to both reject capitalism and fight it effectively. The most difficult issue to get around is money. It’s pretty much impossible to live in this society without money. You have to buy things to support yourself and when you do this, you are supporting the industry. Short of moving to the middle of nowhere and growing all your own food, providing all your own power and being completely self-sufficient, you can’t completely reject the unsustainable system we are all living in.

Take Dylan’s project for example. One of the things we discussed is the contradiction between driving across Canada to find ways to save the environment and live sustainably, while driving across Canada in a gas-guzzling van.

But what I learned from Dylan and Brittney is that you have to make the best of what you’re given. The optimism and inspiration that they have brought with them through this country have done a lot to counteract the emissions from their van. There is a lot to be said about just doing what you can. For example, they have outfitted their van with solar panels, as I mentioned, and they are very conscious of their potential impacts on the environment.

Being conscious, and wanting to do the best you can are integral to living sustainably, or in developing any skill. Once you are self-aware and have a desire to improve, it’s hard not to change.

I look forward to following the rest of Dylan and Brittney’ journey as they return home to Calgary and begin to debrief everything they have learned on their travels. Stay tuned to The Good Planet Project to learn more, and hopefully get inspired to be one of the good people!

Series written by Chantal Delaquis

 

The Dark Side of Spring – and How You Can Help

It is really easy to talk to people about the weather. When it comes to climate, we are all living under the same sky, and our feet walk the same earth. By ‘we’, I’m referring, of course, to the human race, but I’m also referring to you and your neighbours, coworkers, friends and family. Right now, our city is going through a collective sigh of relief as the winter cold melts away and leaves behind the fresh air of spring. There’s something about blue sky and sunshine that draws people out from their makeshift caves and into the community. We can finally walk around the neighbourhood, eat lunch on the patio, ride our bikes to work and tan in our backyards. We can forget the skin-stinging cold and knee-high snow of Winnipeg winter, and appreciate our months of sunshine.

As nice as it sounds, spring isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There is a part of it that we don’t talk about. Maybe we’re ashamed of it. Maybe we have been desensitized and simply don’t care. Maybe we don’t even notice it anymore. It’s easy to forget about it in the winter because it is so well hidden. Out of sight and out of mind. But the snow evaporates into the warm spring air, and reveals an ugly truth about human nature.

Soggy drink cups and cigarette butts replace the crisp pile of snowflakes. Plastic bags roam the streets, and empty beer bottles slump against buildings. The beauty of spring is at war with our forgotten past, carelessly tossed from car windows or mindlessly dropped on the grass.

How many of us have walked outside and kicked a stray cup out of our way, or skillfully avoided spots of gum on the sidewalk? The stink of cigarettes and fumes of daily traffic hover over the city, entering our lungs without us even noticing.

Litter isn’t just litter. It’s a mentality. It seems to be socially acceptable to litter. Or maybe it’s just a bad habit. Maybe it’s disrespect for the environment, or just a thoughtless, harmless action: “The planet will be fine if I throw my cigarette butt out my car window. That’s nothing. Who cares? I wish these crazy environmentalists would relax.”

I’m sure that most people reading this know someone who thinks this way. The increasing number of climate change deniers is terrifying. We can no longer deny what is right in front of our eyes.

I don’t want to be that person, and if you’ve read this far, then I’m hoping you don’t either. If you love the freshness of spring and want to continue to experience it for the rest of your life, then something has to change. It has to. In a couple decades, our seasons could be unrecognizable. Our Winterpeg winters may pale in comparison to the climate change that is to come. We all live under the same sky and walk the same earth, and we must all deal with the consequences of actions on the environment.

One small thing you can do to help is join us on May 30, 2018  at Generation Green, at 100-433 Main Street, for a community clean up. Anyone who is passionate about the planet is welcome to meet us at the store at 6:30pm, armed with compostable garbage bags and gloves (please bring reusable gloves if you have your own – we will provide garbage bags). We will march through the Exchange, cleaning up everything in our path. If you can’t make it, don’t worry. There’s plenty of litter to go around. Start your own community clean up, and tag us on instagram or Facebook! Let’s make our city beautiful again.

Written by Chantal Delaquis