Photo c/o Elizabeth Svyatnenko 

Monday night, a group of McMaster students issued a petition urging McMaster administration to cancel classes and assessments on the afternoon of Sept. 27 so that students, staff and faculty can participate in a climate strike this Friday.

The students organizing the petition are a part of McMaster Students for Climate Change Advocacy (MSCCA), a McMaster-based climate advocacy organization.

The planned climate strike will come as part of a week of mass climate actions from Sept. 20-27, culminating in a global general strike to raise the alarm on the climate crisis.

Climate activists are planning a mass disruption, calling on people from all facets of society to walk out of school and work, thus disrupting business as usual and forcing leaders to pay attention.

“Together, we will sound the alarm and show our politicians that business as usual is no longer an option. The climate crisis won’t wait, so neither will we,” says a statement from Global Climate Strike, an environmental organization coordinating the protests.

While organizers hope that this will be Hamilton’s largest climate strike, it is not the first. Since March, young people from schools across Hamilton have been organizing regular protests to bring attention to the climate crisis. In collaboration with Fridays for future, young people from around the world have been walking out of classes on Fridays to demand immediate, far-reaching action on the climate emergency.

By making sacrifices to their education in order to attend the climate strikes, the activists are demonstrating that the climate crisis is an immediate priority.

“You’re really going to show that these people are in it for the long haul and especially if you’re missing work [or] you’re missing school. You are taking consequences and showing the fact that . . . if you don’t take care of this now, you won’t have a job, you won’t have school,” said Kirsten Connelly, MSCCA founder and co-president.

The urgency of the climate crisis was highlighted in a 2018 report from the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change. According to the report, it is of critical importance to limit global warming to 1.5°C within the next decade. It is very likely that failure to do so will result in catastrophic changes including mass extinction, floods, wildfires and the spread of infectious diseases.

Earth Strike Canada, the organization coordinating the Canadian climate strikes, asserts that the climate crisis is a result of an economic system that relies on indefinite growth, requiring unsustainable resource use and thus diminishing future quality of life. Earth Strike Canada’s demands include investments into green technological advancement, resource management reform and economic reform.

MSCCA’s role has been to encourage McMaster students to participate in the climate strike. To accomplish this, they are urging the university to cancel classes and evaluations on Friday afternoon so that students, staff and faculty can participate without penalty.

“Students shouldn’t have to choose between global citizenship and McMaster citizenship,” stated Connelly.

On Sept. 13, Concordia University announced that they would be cancelling classes the afternoon of Sept. 27 to allow students to attend the climate strike. McMaster students are urging the university to follow suit.

Last week, McMaster issued a statement saying that the university would stay open on Sept. 27 so that academic and research activities can continue as scheduled.

However, MSCCA members are still hopeful. As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition had over 2,100 signatures on Change.org, and the numbers are growing.

Organizers are pushing for a mass climate strike around the world. Hamilton’s climate strike will be held on Sept. 27 at 12:00 in Gore Park.

 

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Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor

By Kayla Freeman, Contributor

Since 2019, metal straws have taken over. Every day, I see at least 50 metal straws in peoples’ beverages. That should be a good thing, right? To some extent it is, but people aren’t choosing sustainability for the right reasons. Using a metal straw is currently a trend, but are metal straws even the right answer to saving our oceans and marine life?

Of course not. Imagine if saving the environment was that easy. Every day, 500 million disposable plastic straws are used and will likely end up in our waterways. This statistic can scare many people into thinking that the solution lies in replacing plastic straws with their metal counterparts. However, many people fail to realize what materials and emissions go into making a metal straw. 

The energy used to create one metal straw is roughly equivalent to creating 90 plastic straws, and also produces carbon emissions equivalent to 150 plastic straws. This may not seem like a lot, but in order to offset the environmental impact of creating a metal straw, it must be used over 150 times. 

We also need to consider the harsh reality of nickel mining that is necessary in order to create these trendy accessories. The Philippines is a predominant nickel supplier. Much of the soil in Palawan, a major nickel supplier in the Philippines, has been reduced to a wasteland. 

Metal straws are not the only items that are made out of nickel, meaning that they are not the sole contributors to the destruction of soil in Palawan. However, they are trendy accessories and are produced excessively. This is evidenced through the variety of designs metal straws are offered in. Our materialist society  does not hesitate to contribute to this “fast fashion” accessory, with celebrities such as Jeffree Star capitalizing on the movement by coming out with their own packs of metal straws. The excessive production of metal straws contradicts the environmentalist intentions that they are meant to fulfill.

If you’re purchasing a metal straw, you would assume that it would be made out of metal, right? Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many of these items are not labelled due to their “eco-friendly” branding strategy as they are not required to list any ingredients since the straw is not being consumed. Safe metal straws should be made with food-grade stainless steel as any other materials may corrode over time. Safe metal straws should be made with food-grade stainless steel as any other materials may corrode over time. 

Additionally, painted or coloured straws also pose a risk of either contaminating the drink or containing unsafe chemicals such as Bisphenol A (BPA), which  is known to cause an array of health risks. Metal straws might not be the only alternative to disposable plastic straws, but they are very popular because of their durability and cost-effectiveness. 

Make no mistake, I think that we should try to be as eco-friendly as possible. But if you are going to opt for a reusable straw, try to purchase locally and support Canadian businesses, such as Glass Sipper. It’s important to keep in mind that when you are trying to be sustainable to be aware of what goes into the production of “eco-friendly alternatives” because sometimes the good intent gets lost in the action.

 

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