By Bridget Ah-Long
With the rising intensity of climate change and global warming, environmental sustainability has become less of a trend and more of a necessary measure that must be prioritized to protect the earth’s natural resources and secure a more livable future for humans, animals and plants.
One prominent name in environmental sustainability is Beth Eden, who has dedicated over 12 years of her life to a range of sustainability, social entrepreneurship, environmental and youth engagement efforts. Among Beth’s numerous strides in the field of sustainability, Beth was recognized as one of Canada’s “30 Under 30” Sustainability Leaders, as well as “25 under 25” Environmentalists. She continues her environmental advocacy as a sustainability, impact and engagement consultant, and works with the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth.
We had the opportunity to ask Beth a few questions about her journey to becoming a young leader in sustainability and asked her to provide some advice for young teens trying to be more environmentally conscious.
1. What inspired you to get involved with sustainability?
I have always had a strong connection to the environment and nature through growing up in the countryside and—for a time—on a farm. I developed a strong sense of responsibility to protect animals and the green space that surrounded me. This empathy for the planet has driven me to work to do anything in my power to protect it. I believe that once we develop a personal relationship with our environment and understand its intrinsic value, we will do anything to preserve it. Our emotional response and sense of responsibility is often our most powerful.
2. What are some suggestions you have for young individuals who wish to be more environmentally conscious in their day-to-day lives?
Do your research to understand the complexities about our environment and climate change. A lot of our issues today are driven by finance and our economy. In Canada, we rely heavily on fossil fuels and are funding their existence in our daily lives. Do you know that your bank is one of the biggest contributors to this industry? Once you understand your individual investment, you can work on individual solutions. Another great way to start is calculating your individual carbon footprint to understand your impact on our environment.
3. In your opinion, what is the most challenging aspect about sustainability and/or environmental advocacy?
Financing change is often the most difficult part of environmental work. We often need money to build a movement, buy resources, and mobilize. Getting funding for environmental initiatives has been challenging in the past but I am glad to see there are more microfunds and youth-focused funding available now. My advice is always to get good with finances, whether that’s for initiatives you run or personally. Because we operate in a capitalist system and we need to understand the ins-and-outs of a system to change it. Young womxn play a massive role in creating change. Look at our history; some of the most powerful changes have been enacted by womxn. We think outside of the box, we are resilient, and we are not afraid of a little bit of discomfort to enact change.
4. Do you have any recommendations for how to learn more about sustainability and global climate issues?
It may sound boring, but since the field of sustainability is changing rapidly, I would highly recommend reading academic articles, learning about new research through TED Talks, or following a scholar or professor on Twitter. I have learnt a lot from academics in this field in live-time.
5. What has it meant for you to be named one of the “30 under 30” Sustainability Leaders, and what initiatives are you hoping to carry out?
Being awarded the title of a “30 under 30” Sustainability Leader in 2020 validated the work I have been doing for years. I had been working completely voluntarily since I was 13 on the MDGs and climate issues, but was driven by my mission to create change and tackle injustices. It is really important that we reward and uplift others doing work to progress our world to become a better place, as it is often disheartening and exhausting.
In terms of upcoming initiatives, I worked on a documentary film called “Salmon Parks’’ last year, which focused on the decline of salmon stock in key watersheds in Mowachat/Muchalaht territories. I hope to amplify other voices through media in the future through similar projects.
6. If you could leave one message or takeaway related to sustainability with our readers, what would it be?
Often, things seem impossible until they are done. Keep imagining a just, sustainable, healthy world and don’t be afraid to drive that into action. The world changes through those that believe they are crazy enough to do it.
To keep up with our blog and hear more from some of the world’s leading females, stay tuned to our IG @EmpowHERto.