How to create peace in your Bedroom.

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As the end of the year quickly approaches, I have realized that my goal of reducing my STUFF is far from complete. At the start of the year I was giddy with enthusiasm, reading great resources, tackling small projects, but the energy quickly dissipated.

As I spend the largest percentage of time in my bedroom, I figured it would be the best area to begin. Over the past few weeks, I have gone through absolutely everything in my room – from boxes to books, cosmetics to art, you name it!

Creating room in my bedroom has created room in my mind.

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Transportation: the balancing of sustainability and ease

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I’ve been car-less for over 5 years now. Despite what many people assume, my licence was not plucked from my shaking hands after a terrible accident nor was it a product of bad financial decisions.

I got rid of my car for a much simpler reason: I wanted to.

My choice to go car-less was one of the first challenges I undertook, as I worked to better align my life with my personal values.   Continue reading

STUFF Project: How to create a wardrobe you love

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After attempting the first challenge of purging 5 items a week, I realized that being more systematic about my purge may be beneficial (with 5 items being an absolute minimum). I’ve decided to assess one category of stuff at a time. This past week, I have planned out a complete purge of my clothes.

Reducing the amount of clothes in your closet will help you to: get rid of what you don’t need, provide clothes to people who do (donation), breathe new life to old clothes that were previously hidden, and increase the ease at which you pull together outfits.

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STUFF Project: Purge 5 things a week

As I began to look at where to start in order to change my relationship with what I own, it didn’t take too much investigating to realize something glaringly obvious:

I have too much STUFF.

From a front closet bursting with bins, to a bedroom which boasts in functionality but lacks in peacefulness, to a storage unit which is filled to the brim (and occasionally overflows when some unsuspecting visitor opens it); impressive organizational skills are able to disguise but not truly address my problem.

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My new challenge for 2016? Get a handle on STUFF.

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The end of a calendar year is always a time of reflection for me – remembrance of the beauty hidden in small moments and what they have collectively taught me.

2015 was both challenging and immensely rewarding. However, it wasn’t the obvious things (such as achieving my MBA or P.Eng) that stand out when I reflect, but rather matters of the heart: relationships which helped me to grow, illness which made me aware of the fragility of life, and a happiness project which significantly altered the way I choose to interpret experiences.

This past year shook me, in the best way possible. I have emerged, I would like to think, stronger. My new challenge for 2016? Get a handle on STUFF. 

There are strong social narratives which have coloured our relationship with physical possessions. I want to explore these in depth, through examining their impact on my own life. I hope to make changes over the next year which will break this endless want for more “stuff” and to determine a strategy for reducing my home’s waste footprint.

I hope you consider joining me! What have you learned from your experiences in 2015? Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions? I would love to hear more about them in the comments below!


 

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Noisy Earth: encouraging youth-generated solutions to save the planet

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Noisy Earth is on a mission to inspire students to take action and tackle the most pressing worldwide challenges. It helps facilitate this through providing cutting-edge resources to teachers for student engagement in stewarding change.

Founder Paul Neenos created the concept of a Responsive Curriculum while working within NYC school systems:

I have continually observed many challenges such as environmental degradation, income inequality, healthcare access, and immigration. Issues that are not well represented in curriculum or classrooms. So, I began developing an idea to bring the big challenges into our schools for students to engage with, problem solve, and connect with one another to create awareness and solutions.

His vision was to move towards a more hands-on, experiential, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) approach coupled with a cross-curricular framework to help students connect to a topic across multiple subject-areas. Noisy Earth provides a framework which accomplishes this through ‘Stories’ (such as air pollution), encouraging students to put to use the knowledge they have learned in class to innovate creative solutions.

I am grateful for people like Paul, who continue to strive towards meaningful solutions and inspire others to do the same.

Do you know a teacher who may be interested in incorporating a Noisy Earth topic in their classroom? Do you have an idea of a ‘Story’ students could explore? How else can we get young people involved in thinking of creative solutions to big problems? Share your ideas below!


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Inspirational Person: Jane Porter, Sustainable Building Consultant

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Jane Porter is a sustainability consultant at Stratos and Co-Founder of HUB Ottawa. She has a Masters of Corporate Environmental Management from the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland), and a Bachelor in International Business from Carleton University. Her passion is innovating for sustainability and her specialty is making it happen through thinking big, collaborating across networks, and facilitating dialogue. 


Jane, from your experience at Stratos (a leading Sustainability Consultant), what are the largest motivating factors for organizations to integrate sustainability?

Three key motivating factors which  I often see in my work, include:

    • Risk management  – Environmental, social and governance issues often represent major risks (and opportunities) that need to be managed by the company if they want to continue to do business.
    • Executive influence – Executive leaders who have a strong vision for sustainability and Board members who ask challenging environmental/social questions influence the organizations’ values and help ensure initiatives are supported and properly resourced.
    • Investment decisions – Investors are increasingly looking to make ‘ethical investments’ and many long term investors don’t want to invest in companies whose entire industry may be moot in 50 years (e.g., fossil fuels).

Can you share with us what you would consider to be the essential success factors to implementing a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plan?

There are factors to implement a successful CSR plan, but here are a few:

  • Executive buy-in – For change to happen, you need to ensure that the plan is supported by top decision-makers. If they don’t see its value, resources required to implement may be re-directed if times are tight.
  • Influence across the organization  – Sustainability cuts across all silos and levels of an organization. Those in charge of the plan need to know how to integrate it into the organization, through collaborating with key players.
  • A clear path forward – A well vetted implementation plan is essential. Companies need to translate high level principles (and wishy-washy sustainability lingo) into tangible actions that make business sense.

As co-founder of HUB Ottawa (a collaborative work space and member community for social entrepreneurs/impact professionals), what do you see the role of entrepreneurship being in terms of current environmental issues? 

Entrepreneurship allows you to challenge and change the status quo. If there are aspects about the way we live that are not working, we need innovators to show us a better way.

When did you become inspired to channel your passion and expertise towards the integration of business and the environment? 

Grassroot organizations play a valuable role in creating meaningful change. However, I was inspired to see the potential for broad reaching solutions in Corporate board rooms, where key decision-makers could be influenced.   

Finally, and in simplest terms, to what degree do you think business has the ability to solve the current social and environmental crises? 

To be honest, I think it’ll take a shock to the system for a major change to happen. We need transformative – not incremental – change.


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{Interested in other Q&A’s with Inspirational People? Check them out here}