Do you consider yourself to be an environmentalist? I did when I was in high school. As vice president of the school environment club, I took my duties seriously, of which collecting syrupy pop cans out of bins to recycle was probably the least glamourous. But I’m not part of an organization now that proactively cares for the earth and educates others about environmental issues. Or am I? After speaking with Dune Ives from Lonely Whale Foundation, I do feel like an empowered individual. I know that I can use my purchasing power to make better choices for my family and for the planet. I know that our children are counting on that. I can also use my voice to shed light on some of these issues. The research I did for this post has me believing that I have a much greater impact on my planet’s well-being than I once thought. And so do you.

Lonely Whale Foundation was co-founded by actor Adrian Grenier and producer Lucy Sumner in 2015 to inspire ocean advocacy and empathy for marine life. Basically, they want you and me to understand the importance of the oceans for life on land, and they want to provide us with the resources to create a positive impact on our environment. I loved this op-ed piece by Adrian that points out exactly what the issues are, why we need to pay attention to them, and how we can get involved. In addition to these individual actions, there are many ways to ‘join the pod’ – from financial donations to easily downloading and sharing social-media memes.

#CatchTheWave School Program

adrian grenier, lonely whale foundation, catch the wave

Something else to consider, though, when we’re looking at long-term solutions to a massive problem: the role of our children. My kids right now are 10, 7 and 3. They appreciate and enjoy nature – they love jumping in the lake and  trampling through the forest. They are also creative and compassionate. They sound like your kids, right? Lonely Whale Foundation knows that it’s my kids and yours who are going to pull us out of this environmental mess through their innate connection with nature, their empathy and their innovation. And right now, in some Canadian schools, a program is being piloted that taps into the greatest resource we have: our children.

The pilot project is called #CatchTheWave and engages elementary and secondary school students to tackle the plastic problem. The single-use plastics that have made their way into our daily lives is a travesty for the oceans; 8 million tonnes of plastic, every year, enter our waterways! This program is suitable for student bodies where there is already an interest in decreasing single-use plastics in communities, and it is essentially a program developed by youth in partnership with Lonely Whale. As Dune pointed out in our conversation, “There is a lot of power in kids developing their own programs and then coaching other kids to do the same.” The end result of this program is that students will educate the communities in which they live about the problems and solutions. The pilot will end with this school year and, after a period of review this summer, will be offered at some schools throughout Canada with a hope to expand to the United States.

Lonely Whale Foundation, Adrian Grenier, oceans, ocean health, world environment day

Before speaking with Dune, I didn’t realize there was such a thing as Global Goals for Sustainable Development. These are actual, tangible goals and strategies that were set in 2015 by 193 world leaders – if these goals are met, we could potentially end extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. #CatchTheWave directly impacts Goal #14 Life Below Water. In 2030, my children will be 23, 20 and 16. And yes, absolutely, they will be the ones we’ll be passing down the leadership roles to. Let’s give them fewer problems to deal with and more tools.

So, what can we do?

One of the things we’ve started doing as a family is requesting, ‘No straws, please’ when we order drinks at a restaurant or cafe. These single-use plastics are unnecessary, yet they are the cause of death for so much marine life. And they don’t break down, just like all the other plastic that now outnumbers the plankton in a part of the Pacific known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Today happens to be World Environment Day and co-founder Adrian Grenier is recognized as the newest Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme. It’s also the perfect day to make a commitment to the planet. Something small that has lasting effects. Here’s an article with 5 simple steps that make a huge difference for the environment. Which one will your family start with today?

If any of this piques your interest, or you know your child is passionate about the ocean and would love to learn more or be involved, please head over to Lonely Whale’s site. Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative