Would you take a 50 per cent pay cut to work on something you believed in?
Two months ago, I did exactly that when I began working for Earth Day Canada, a not-for-profit environmental organization that focuses on education, awareness and personal empowerment.
Coincidentally, I also started sleeping better at night.
I'd been working as a writer on a high-profile national advertising campaign. It had all the makings of a dream job. It was stimulating and exciting and my colleagues and I were showered with constant praise, international attention and a seemingly endless carousel of parties.
But I wasn't happy. The truth is, the triumphs rang hollow.
The people I most admire in life are those who pursue their passions while simultaneously making the world a better place -- teachers, writers, artists, doctors, musicians, community leaders and activists. I wanted to use my skills as a writer to teach, inspire and promote change, instead of simply churning out witty turns of phrase that help make profitable companies more profitable.
(Not that there's anything wrong with that line of work. Many of us are in the business of making rich people richer. But, as I'm discovering, there are other ways to earn a living.)
I love advertising, but I realized that I could just admire it from afar, (like art!) while pursuing an endeavour that felt more worthwhile to me at this particular moment in my life. And the endeavour that had most been on my mind was environmental sustainability.
Bill McKibben's stunning piece on climate change in Rolling Stone last year was life-altering; it was the final nail in the unsustainably harvested mahogany coffin of my guilty conscience. I had dabbled in environmental activism in the past, but it was then that I aggressively sought work in the environmental sector...which is how I came to secure my current job.
Earth Day Canada's philosophy is that every little bit counts. When multiplied by many people, even the most modest of green acts can make a significant difference.
This April, Earth Day Canada is running a Facebook campaign called Act for the Planet, trumpeting the importance of making small changes and sacrifices in one's daily life for the good of the planet. Join us this April for a daily challenge that will have you rethink how we use our planet's precious and finite resources.
From going vegetarian (or vegan) for a day, to cutting down on household water consumption, here's hoping that Canadians will embrace the green challenges and take baby steps towards altering their long-ingrained daily habits and living more sustainably.
These are sacrifices, surely. But they're small ones. And they're sacrifices I believe most Canadians can live with.
Just as I can live with my own small sacrifice of voluntarily and enthusiastically giving up half of my paycheque in order to finally feel good what I'm doing every day.
Because I'd rather be green than have it.