Category Archives: TAKE ACTION

“Be the Change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Every voice counts, no matter how big or small, yes – even yours.

we day inspire change

We Day Founder, Craig Kielburger, speaks about his work

This week I was lucky enough to attend a speech from Craig Kielburger, founder of We Day. Together him and his brother (Marc) organized a movement to empower youth to make a difference in today’s world.  We Day is an event held where your ticket is not purchased, but it is earned. Attendees must do one act for a local cause as well as one act for a global cause. It is a celebration with a host of speakers, leaders and entertainers to congratulate and continue inspiring these young people. Through his work, Craig has been recognized with multiple honorary degrees and awards from Human Rights, International Peace, Leaders of Tomorrow as well as being named a member of the Order of Canada. He also had the honor of working with the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa and is a best-selling author.

If you want to know a little more about We Day check out the video below, if you want to hear more about Craig’s speech, keep on reading.

When Craig was 12 he opened up the newspaper in search of his beloved Comic section (what other newspaper sections do most 12 year old’s read?). Instead, he found himself face-to-face with an article about a young Pakistani boy who had been sold as a slave when he was 4 years old and finally escaped when he reached 10. His name was Iqbal Masih and he joined Bonded Labour Liberation Front (BLLF)  and started giving voice to his own story and the untold stories of many other children who were also enlisted as slaves. When he was 12, Iqbal was murdered.

After reading this article, a spark grew in young Craig. The next day he asked his classmates to commit to making a change that Iqbal would be proud of and that was where the dream was born. 12 children brought together by one idea and a leader with astronomical hopes, they started by holding bake sales, car washes and fundraisers which eventually led them to building a school in a third world country. At such a young age, Craig’s efforts were creating such massive ripples that the Dalai Lama called to invite him to a private retreat with other renowned leaders.  The focus of the weekend was one single question:

What is the greatest challenge facing our world Today?

After many long discussions, the group agreed that our single greatest challenge is raising a generation of passive bystanders. How we educate young people is a direct reflection of how well our society is equipped to face with the issues arising around us. In places such as Canada or the United States children receive not only a standard school-system education, but also are enrolled in music lessons, art, or sports to create a well-rounded childhood. What parents tend to fall short of is empowering their children to begin initiatives of change – to volunteer. The University of Virginia created a study to see the impact that regular volunteering had on young people. It turns out, unsurprisingly, that those who regularly volunteered were more likely to go onto secondary education, had better academic grades, had less abuse with alcohol and drugs and a better self-image. Overall, these kids were healthier and happier.

So we create change initiatives, we volunteer more, we donate more, what is the secret formula to overcoming the problems that so many charities and non-profit organizations are addressing?

In order to create any sustaining change, we need a well-rounded plan and we need media coverage. We need to not only start the conversation, but continue it. In our world today we are constantly being bombarded with so much information overload that we struggle to stay focused. Our problem is that we move from crisis to crisis, temporarily fulfilling our promise to solve the problem but once the media leaves, the money disappears and the initiatives break down. Craig has seen this first-hand when his group was doing work in Sierra Leone back in the 2000′s. For almost two years the country was consistently in the media spotlight, but when it became old news, people began to lose interest and investors stopped funding the development projects. The model that Craig and his Free the Children non-profit enterprise follow is a 5 year program to run their projects. 5 years gives them enough time to set up resources, teach the locals and allow them to become self-sufficient. A surprising statistic from the UN shows us that most clean water initiatives fail the first three years. The reason for this is they do not look at the big picture. In order for impoverished people around the world to be truly self-sufficient and free from foreign aid we need to give them tools, not simply throw money at them. His enterprise uses a model with 5 main focuses: clean water, healthcare, education, food security and small business knowledge. With this combination, people in need are given an environment where they can finally succeed.

There is a cultural shift happening right now and you can choose to be a part of it. We can choose to teach our young people to be kind, giving, and compassionate.We can choose to talk about the problems that our world is facing. We can choose to take action instead of idly standing by. We can choose to be smart humanitarians and inspire a generation of smart humanitarians.

If you would like to know more about how to get involved with We Day, you can visit: http://www.weday.com/take-action/

Foxconn apple factory

When you pick up your iPhone, stop and think of the people that built it.

With the fast-growing electronic empire, companies are consistently improving their innovation and techniques to have the highest quality products and cutting edge technology. I will be the first to admit that I love Apple products. From iPhones, iPads, iPods I own them all. I know Apple employees who absolutely love their job and the company they work for. Apple has an incredible corporate culture and Steve Jobs has truly changed the world of computers, tablets, music and mobile phones.
The information that is often lost from the moment these products are manufactured to when it hits the shelves at your local store is that someone, somewhere, paid a high price to get that iPhone that you’re reading this on into your very own hands. And that someone is a factory worker and that somewhere is China.

After viewing this video I began a search on Apple’s contracted factories such as Foxconn and Pegatron. It turns out, there have been numerous articles reporting on the working conditions in these factories. Facing public scrutiny, many of these factories have been investigated by labor activists such as China Labor Watch as well as the FLA (Fair Labor Association).While improvement in working conditions have been made there is still much work to be done. The important thing to remember as you think about the lack of overtime pay, lack of worker compensation and safe working environment is that these things are preventable.

As a business student, the one thing that has been ingrained in my mind is that businesses are designed for one thing: to make a profit. If a business is not profitable, then it would no longer be a business – it would be a charity or a non-profit and that is clearly not what Apple is. The only way that you, as a consumer, can create change is by economic pressure. It is unrealistic for me to ask you to start hurling away your smart phones hoping that the electronic manufacturing giants will hear your cries. What is more realistic is to raise awareness for this issue and consider the possibility of paying a little extra for that shiny new phone of yours.

The new iPhone 6 is due to come out this fall, just in time for you and I to ask Apple to improve the working conditions in these factories and in the production of their products. If you would like to read more on the issue, do your own internet research. From Forbes, the Guardian, NY Times there are numerous articles on the subject. This one includes some alarming photos: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2103798/Revealed-Inside-Apples-Chinese-sweatshop-factory-workers-paid-just-1-12-hour.html

I urge you to share this video with your fellow Apple consumers and ask yourself what you’re willing to pay for the betterment of these workers lives.

go green

30 ways to Save Money and the Environment

David Brower quote

Do we want our children to acquire an abundance of  resources or a planet with little vegetation, ozone depletion, scarce diversity in species and many other problems associated with our contributions to mother nature. No CEO or board members sets out to destroy the environment in all it’s grandeur and beauty. It is clear that Going Green is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. The only question now is:

How do we choose a sustainable lifestyle and leave the planet in better shape than the way we found it? 

In no particular order of importance here’s a list we’ve compiled from different online resources. Try consciously doing one thing a day until it becomes a habit, and you’ll start to notice the more you remind yourself, the more aware of other effects your decisions will have on our planet. Be a part of something you are proud of, take part in a sustainable lifestyle.

    1. Start Composting. If you want to learn more on how to compost at home refer to this site: http://eartheasy.com/grow_compost.html Another way to implement composting is to write your political representatives and request a compost bin program for your neighborhood or city.
    2. Choose an alternative transportation method. Walk, bike, train, bus, carpool, long-board, roller-blade the choices are endless.
    3. Pay online. I know some of you may feel more comfortable with the traditional paper bills to file away in your well-documented accounting folders but for those that are tech-savvy and see the convenience in online payments – do it. Not only does it save paper usage, but also it saves on the transportation costs to deliver to your door.
    4. Turn off the lights. This goes hand in hand with introducing (CFL’s) compact fluorescent light bulbs at your home or office.
    5. Run dishwashers only when full. Surprisingly, dish washers conserve more water than hand-washing dishes. So here’s the perfect reason to get lazy and take full advantage of machinery.
    6. Wash only full loads of laundry. The bonus to this is that you only have to fold laundry once a week or every two weeks.
    7. Run your washer on cold or warm water. Hot water requires extra energy to heat up.
    8. Carry reusable bags. Whether it’s trendy looking lululemon bags or plain brown reusable sacks, eco-friendly is still fashionable at the grocery store.
    9. Buy local foods. This makes for a fun Sunday trip. Head over to your local farmers markets to find fresh produce, they often have organic food as well and offer samplers or tasty treats too!
    10. Substitute cloth for papertowel. 
    11. Purchase appliances that are energy star approved. Even if they are a bit pricier they are valuable investments and can save you costs in the future.
    12. Thrift-shop. Not only can you save money, you get to “wear your grandad’s clothes” and “look incredible” according to Macklemore. You can also donate the clothes in the back of your closet to someone who would cherish them.
    13. Plant a tree. You can do this in your backyard or choose to incorporate this within your business model. Donate a tree today!
    14. Skip pre-heating your oven. I usually just throw my baking in as soon as the oven’s turned on. If you’re extra hungry this saves time on getting the food to the table as well.
    15. Take one napkin. Whether it’s at the McDonald’s drive-thru or a public washroom, choose to take one napkin instead of a stack tall enough to represent Mount Everest.
    16. Use a water bottle. Watch the documentary “Tapped” on the water bottle industry. Side note, bring your own mug to coffee shops as well.
    17. Buy less packaging. Look for products with less packaging. Oftentimes this may be Cost-co sized inventory but you’ll save additional costs on buying in bulk as well.
    18. Recycle or donate electronics. Many stores can reuse your old electronic parts or ensure they are recycled in an eco-safe way. A large majority of energy and fossil fuels are created in the actual manufacturing process of the electronics therefore prolonging their lifespan will help the environment.
    19. Online reading over paper. Not going to lie, I love the feel and smell of a new book in my hands. But iPads, kindle products, tablets create less waste and also are more portable than an entire library of paperbacks.
    20. Use rechargable batteries or products that can be plugged in to charge. 
    21. Maintaining your vehicle. Allows it to run smoothly and potentially save you gas money as well!
    22. Adjust your thermostat. Just a touch should be enough to save a bit of energy while at the same time not drowning in sweat or freezing to death.
    23. Follow the frog. Save the rainforest by buying products which are Rainforest Alliance Certified. Watch a video on it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iIkOi3srLo
    24. Shower instead of bath. 
    25. Recycle beverage containers. Most of us already do this… mostly because we can get that 5 cents for each bottle and it feels like we’re getting free money.
    26. Try vegetarian. A 2006 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization estimated a whooping 18% of greenhouse gases originated from the livestock industry. Read the article here: http://science.time.com/2013/12/16/the-triple-whopper-environmental-impact-of-global-meat-production/
    27. Print/write on both sides of paper.
    28. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Less time standing around and more active living.
    29. Turn “off” your electronics, don’t leave it on standby. Leaving your laptop or video game consoles on standby still wastes energy.
    30. Make your own cleaners. There are plenty of formulas for creating homemade household cleaners, save yourself and the environment from chemicals.
unicef tap project

UNICEF Tap Project – The Best Reason I’ve had to put down my phone

While scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed on my phone (ironic hey?) I came across an interesting article. It said that for every 10 minutes I don’t touch my phone, someone would donate REAL MONEY to UNICEF in order to give kids clean water for a day. Giorgio Armani and other sponsors have partnered with UNICEF to make this happen and it’s amazing how long people have lasted. Three reasons why I love this project.

  1. You could save someone’s life. UNICEF reports 1,400 deaths worldwide per day related to lack of sanitary water.
  2. Water has never tasted so good. This is an important moment to remember how good we really have it. It’s a moment to appreciate all the things we have been blessed with and reflect upon the things we are grateful for.
  3. You realize there is more to life than your iPhone. Telephones were designed to interconnect us, and they have. But at the same time we have also become so disconnected from the rest of the world. It’s time to put down those phones, stop that text message you’re writing and go out and LIVE. Be spontaneous, fall off the grid, see things you haven’t seen before and go on an adventure. I’ve also conveniently posted this on a Friday night, so there should be plenty of things for you to do instead of check your phone.

If you would like to take on this challenge and save some lives head on over to: www.uniceftapproject.org and start giving clean water today.

Also if you’d like your friends to get off their phone, hangout with you and save some lives as well this would be a good moment to share this.