Academic Sustainability
Programs Office

Making Small Sustainable Changes

If people around the world engage in small changes in their everyday life to live more sustainably, we could collectively make a large impact.

– Zainab Hussain, SUSTAIN 2S03 2018

Making Small Sustainable Changes

I have always had a keen interest in protecting the environment and living a sustainable life.

When I was ten years old, my family and I traveled back home to Pakistan for the summer. One night, I woke up feeling really hot and I realized the power had gone out. It was then that I realized that the power intentionally goes out one or two hours every day. This trip made me realize that in Canada, we are fortunate to have an unlimited amount of resources that are taken for granted and we should not use our resources carelessly.

With this in mind, I decided to enroll in the course SUSTAIN 2S03 at McMaster University.  At the start, I had hoped to develop a deeper understanding and gain knowledge about sustainability, but little did I know that I would actively participate in a sustainable lifestyle challenge of my own! The lifestyle challenge helped me to become more aware of my own impact, taught me to evaluate associated challenges and possible solutions for change, and inspired me to put the solutions into action.

In choosing my lifestyle challenge, I decided to walk around my house for inspiration and I noticed one trend –there were many appliances that were plugged in but not in use. It reminded me about his phenomenon discuss in class, called “phantom power”, which is the power consumed by electronic that are plugged in but not in use, and it can account for as much as 10% of a single households electricity bill!   This is energy we do not even use! I decided to unplug all devices in standby mode in my home. Eventually, unplugging devices became a part of my daily routine and I was motivated to complete my checklist daily. This course gave me the necessary tools to embark on other exciting sustainable challenges beyond the course! For instance, I created a strategic plan and proposal, which provided a framework for how I would carry out my challenge. Also, I gained insight on other creative sustainable challenges conducted by students in the class.

As for my challenge, I plan to continue it after the end of the course and begin another new challenge! If people around the world engage in small changes in their everyday life to live more sustainably, we could collectively make a large impact.

Zainab Hussain, SUSTAIN 2S03 2018