Why Supporting a Green Party is More Important Now Than Ever
Guest post by: Jamie D’Souza, Content Manager for Happy Eco News and Green Party of Quebec Candidate
Whether you live off the grid, grow your own food, shop locally or use sustainable transportation, you do these things because you believe in protecting the environment. You believe that what you are doing is going to make a difference. I live in a metropolitan city but I buy my clothes secondhand, I walk or take the bus whenever I can, I try to buy products that have a minimal environmental impact, I support green initiatives and policies. I am also a stronger believe that we, as a society, have the power to make changes for our planet, no matter where we live or the initiatives we take.
Over the last few years, I have become interested in how we manage waste in my city, Montreal, Quebec. I am constantly looking for a better understanding about the kinds of wastes we produce, where it goes, and how we can reduce it. Specifically, I have become interested in textile and clothing waste and what actually happens to clothes we don’t wear or don’t want anymore. You may recall my previous post where I exposed the clothing industry and brought to light that unfortunate truth that North America sends 10 million tonnes of clothing to the landfill. This is a huge amount and not surprisingly, it is something that not many people are aware of.
Since finishing my Masters degree in 2019 I have been looking for environmental jobs and ways to make solving the issues of textile waste into a career and to create more awareness around the topic. It’s been an uphill battle and one that I continue to fight but it is why I’ve decided to take this issue and my passion for the environment to the top. I am very excited to announce that I am running as a candidate for the 2022 Quebec Elections, representing the Green Party of Quebec.
I’ve never thought much about going into politics until last year when I did an internship for the Green Party of Quebec with the leader of the party, Alex Tyrell. My role as an environmental intern was to research all of the environmental problems that are happening in Quebec. It was alarming to see how many there actually are (many of which are ongoing) including how we take care of our forests, our water, local animals, and especially our waste. Before the pandemic, it seemed like our fight for the environment was heading in the right direction (remember the huge climate strikes in 2019?). But when you actually start digging through the evidence, reading news articles and hearing from local people, you can see that there is so much work that needs to be done. You also learn that there are many environmental problems that some political parties simply put a band-aid on and focus on other things that are more pressing. This whole experience is what made me realize that it’s time we have a political party that puts the environment first and makes it their priority. The Green Party of Quebec represents the left federalists of the province and put green values, sustainable development and participatory democracy first. This is exactly why we need a party like this to give a voice to the environment. It’s also important to let the people in our community know that we are committed to fighting for the environment and we don’t plan on giving up anytime soon.
My role as a candidate would be to represent the area I live in, Rosemont La Petite Patrie. It’s a neighborhood that I consider holds the environment close to its heart. It offers composting and recycling services, there are green alleys all over the neighbourhood that citizens are committed to beautifying, and they take pride in planting flowers and vegetables in the summer. As a candidate for the Green Party of Quebec, the issues I am most concerned about are as follows:
- Reducing and repurposing waste in Quebec
- Increasing exposure to the textile waste problem in the province
- Achieving a better use of Quebec’s resources and creating more local products.
- Increasing support from universities to help students find jobs after graduation
As you have probably guessed, my first two issues come from my interest to reduce waste within the city and the province. This comes after learning about what happens to our waste. Did you know that 18% of what we throw in recycling doesn’t actually get recycled mainly because it is contaminated, dirty, or just isn’t recyclable. Another issue is that many cities just don’t have the technologies to recycle or even separate everything that ends up in these facilities. Many of the problems around recycling comes from our lack of information of what can be recycled and how to recycle in general. Most of us hope for the best when we throw something in our recycling bins. Or, even worse, we don’t even bother recycling because there is no guarantee that what we throw out will be recycled. It’s time we bring these issues to light and increase transparency of recycling facilities and educate the public about how to recycle and how to reduce waste.
What about textile waste? On the consumer end, we are buying way too many clothes, and we are throwing away much of it. From the manufactures side, they are using cheap fabrics and labor to increase production which means they can sell more for less. The even bigger problem is a lot of clothing ends up in the landfill! I’ve seen so many people put bags of clothing on the side of road to be picked up. I guess they think it will be sorted at the waste facilities, but as we’ve learned with recycling, a lot of our waste doesn’t get sorted and we don’t have the proper technologies to deal with it. In Montreal, the city wants to reduce their total residual landfill waste (which includes food and clothes) by 85% by 2030. But honestly, it doesn’t seem like we are anywhere near achieving this goal. We need more people to become aware of clothing waste, we need to teach them how to dispose of their unwanted clothing, and importantly we need to develop the technologies to be able to deal with this type of waste.
Achieving a better use of Quebec’s resources is an important issue that we should all be aware of (especially if you live here). Wouldn’t it be so great if we could live off the land, grow our own fruits and vegetables all year long and reduce importations in order to reduce the environmental costs associated with transportation. Some places around the world are working to achieve this, Quebec on the other hand, not so much. Take the produce industry for example. It’s true that we live in a country with harsh winters, so our growing season is limited to summer months. But we aren’t working hard enough to develop infrastructure to grow produce year long. Did you know Quebec only represents 7% of greenhouses in Quebec, compared to the 70% represented by our neighbours in Ontario. Furthermore, Quebec has free trade agreements with many countries which makes the greatest number of products available at the lowest cost. This discourages local production in Quebec. I think it’s time we start looking at more solutions to produce local and showcase the products that this province has to offer.
My fourth issue shifts away from the environment and focuses on something more personal. In my opinion, I think we need more support from our universities to ensure jobs after graduation. I know I speak for many graduates when I say we feel lost when we enter the real world and try to find work. Universities hold a lot of promise when you’re a student, they provide many benefits and opportunities but the second they hand you your degree they forget all about you (trust me, I’ve been in this situation not one but twice). Our education shouldn’t be just a business transaction between the school and the student. We need our universities to help us find jobs, preferably in our field, within two years after graduation to ensure that we are contributing members of society and to use our education in the way it was intended. I think this is an issue is that isn’t being discussed but that a lot of students and graduates are struggling with as a result.
Every candidate is fighting for different causes and issues. These are the ones that I am passionate about, and I am willing to fight for. We need change, we need solutions and we need to give our environment a voice now more than ever. I am excited to be a candidate for the Green Party and I am prepared to make my issues heard. My first order of business is to go out in the community and get 120 signatures so I can appear on the ballot in October. I think I can do it.
I’ll be sure to give you an update as this journey continues. Let’s protect our environment, one vote at a time!
Good luck Jamie, you sound committed to the cause and we need more politicians with your kind of commitment.
The Green Party is the perfect vehicle for your aspirations as it is poised to go places in the near future.
Thanks and all the best.