Every year on April 22, people around the world celebrate Earth Day. Often celebrated throughout the whole week, Earth Day is not only a time to recognize the historical successes of the environmental movement, but also a time to remind everyone of the collective efforts that are still needed to address the environmental issues we face today.

This year is especially exciting for a number of reasons. The 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference will be taking place in Paris this December. Leading up to it, thousands of people have already marched the streets of global cities such as New York City and Quebec City to voice their concerns regarding climate change. Closer to home, Premier Kathleen Wynne just announced that Ontario will be implementing a cap and trade system to limit greenhouse gas emissions. On a personal level, I am enthusiastic to be working with cleantech companies and the Advanced Energy Centre to support innovative disruptive ideas and initiatives.

On past Earth Days, I’ve mostly focused my efforts on raising awareness, educating and encouraging others to be more environmentally responsible. It’s fairly easy to get people on board if all you’re asking them to do is to take a simple action. Some examples include encouraging people to make better food and transit choices, to plant a tree or to share their knowledge.

People are generally more willing to change their habits if it’s easy, if it’s only for a short amount of time or if others are also doing so.

Ventures working with MaRS Cleantech are creating innovative products and technologies that are making it easier to make these choices.

Companies such as Nanoleaf and R3VOLVED are transforming products that we use on a daily basis, but whose impact and production processes we don’t necessarily give much thought to. By integrating people-friendly designs into light bulbs and school and office supplies, people can feel good about their choices and make a positive difference.

Nanoleaf
Nanoleaf was one of several cleantech startups that joined MaRS at the Green Living Show in March.

Other companies, like Revelo and ReDeTec, are enhancing the technology of products that have been garnering greater interest from the general public. Electric bikes and 3D printing are changing the ways in which we move and build things. Using new technologies, these companies are making bikes that are more compact for urban dwellers and 3D printing that is more affordable and accessible.

Nanoleaf, R3VOLVED, Revelo and ReDeTec, among other companies, joined MaRS at the Green Living Show last month and proved that innovative environmental products engage and encourage people to make environmental choices. While simple actions are valuable and still critical, working alongside innovators and technologies will help to change the minds of unlikely suspects and move forward our ability to address greater environmental issues.

This Earth Day, do what you can for a day or a week, but try to look beyond it as well, and try something different.

Photo credit: Dynamic Earth by gsfc under CC BY 2.0

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Irene Lam

Irene is an Associate at the Advanced Energy Centre (AEC) at MaRS. As part of the AEC, she works with partners and energy sector stakeholders to address the barriers to energy innovation adoption and build capacity as the sector undergoes significant changes. See more…