A featured blog post by 8BillionTrees.org

Be the Change Earth Alliance (BTCEA) is a great example of how the commitment of a handful of individuals can spark collective and meaningful action. The problems facing the planet might seem overwhelming, but when people work together, big changes can happen.

Reducing Footprints to Reverse Climate Change

Since 2011, the organization has engaged tens of thousands of middle and high school students to reduce their personal carbon footprints. In 2019-2020 alone, their learning resources and workshops  reached over 8,500 student participants, empowering them to become agents of change against the climate crisis. And, what followed was a reduction of over 50,000 kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thanks to the collective action of these students to reduce carbon emissions!

The average carbon footprint of an American is over 16 tons a year, with many studies putting that number at around 20 tons. Yet, BTCEA was able to erase over 110,000 pounds of carbon emissions… and they achieved all this by mobilizing just 8,500 students. 

By focusing on sustainability and social justice, their school-based climate action communication network helps outline easy and intelligent ways for students to interact with the community and do something to reduce the greenhouse gases causing climate change. (One simple way to do your part for Mother Earth is to find your emissions using a carbon calculator.)

Because we can all agree, big changes are what the planet needs to survive. 

Expanding, Growing and Reaching More People

BTCEA isn’t sitting back though… The group plans to reach out to more students in the future, to empower an environmentally sustainable, personally fulfilling and socially just human society. 

The vision statement captures the heart of their endeavors – to promote environmental sustainability through a value-based approach that is fulfilling and just. Supporting this vision is a clear mission to develop programs that spur collective action towards ecological and social issues. Led by a staff team of diverse youth under 30, and six board of Directors with impeccable records on environmental and social justice issues, BTCEA is an example for all of us to follow in our collective action against the challenges facing our planet. 

The Power of Collective Action--Now

Not convinced of the power of collective action? Well, what BTCEA did during the pandemic period is likely to change your mind. 

A few months into the pandemic, the organization noted the adverse effect of COVID on the Canadian education system. Teaching had to happen remotely, yet, the resources to support this online education, especially for social courses such as climate change, were constrained at best. 

BTCEA stepped in, providing teachers with free online educational materials that they could use to teach students remotely and to spur appropriate eco-social actions, even during the pandemic.  

Inspired by Canadian students taking to the streets to advocate for climate change, BTCEA went further. The organization removed subscription fees for Student Leadership for Change, an online learning resource point with videos, worksheets, and classroom plans. This move saw a 500 percent increase in the number of teachers subscribed to the platform!

So far, BTCEA has reached over 1,500 teachers and about 40,000 students, spurring over 17,000 collective, positive, and eco-social oriented actions. By merging low investment but high impact activities, the net impact on our planet’s ecosystem has been tremendous… and that’s something we can all celebrate. 


Works Cited

BTCEA. (2021). Annual reports. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from Be The Change Earth Alliance: https://www.bethechangeearthalliance.org/annual_reports

BTCEA. (2021). Board of Directors. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from Be The Change Earth Alliance: https://www.bethechangeearthalliance.org/board

Kilgore, G. (2021, August 18). Calculate Carbon Footprint: Find YOUR Eco Footprint in Real-Time. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from 8 Billion Trees: https://8billiontrees.com/carbon-offsets-credits/carbon-ecological-footprint-calculators/

Duncan, V. (2021, September 14). The Average Carbon Footprint Per Person Is Rising Fast: Is It Too Late? (10 Ways to Help Now). Retrieved September 23, 2021, from 8 Billion Trees: https://8billiontrees.com/carbon-offsets-credits/reduce-carbon-footprint/average-carbon-footprint-per-person/

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