Scitech | A simple sticker with bigger plans

Using warning labels to fight climate change

Sustainability is a word we hear frequently enough – everyone and their grandmother is ‘going green.’ But in our busy day-to-day lives, the planet is frequently forgotten. Michelle Reeves, a recent McGill graduate, has teamed up with a powerful group of individuals who want to prevent this from happening.

In January 2013, Executive Director Rob Shirkey founded the Our Horizons project. His goal was simple: to get people thinking about the planet. His plan of action is equally as austere: the not-for-profit organization wants to pass legislation requiring gas stations to place warning stickers on fuel nozzles similar to those on cigarette packages.

Shirkey spearheaded the project based on the belief that the first step to solving a problem is to address it. The graphic mock-ups proposed by the company undoubtedly force people to think twice about filling up.

Reeves discovered the project while doing a field study in Panama. It was there where she found out about a job on the Our Horizons team. Among the flurry of other job postings this one stood out because it wasn’t advertised as a job, but a lifestyle. “I felt drawn to it. All other jobs felt like starting at the bottom, which was okay too, but [here] I really had a chance to get involved in something globally unprecedented, get my hands dirty, and do some hard work,” she told The Daily.

She largely connects her determination in making Our Horizons successful to the Macdonald Campus community. “They all cared about similar things,” she raved, “and the professors were always supporting student initiatives.” She specifically noted groups like the Eco Garden and the Sustainability Club.

Currently acting as the Director of Communications for the Our Horizons team, Reeves spent her summer going door-to-door campaigning for this project. The team believes that success will be largely based on getting the word out and hopefully starting a chain reaction. Just like the global expansion of warning labels on cigarette packages creates awareness about the negative health effects of smoking, Our Horizons hopes to be the catalyst for spreading warnings on fuel nozzles.

While facing up to municipalities is currently their main concern, resistance has been coming from individuals who argue that these labels are ineffective. Some even go on to say that climate change and global warming is a hoax. To those who the facts can’t sway, Reeves simply replies, “Better be safe than sorry.”

For those interested in trying to help out the sustainability initiative, Reeve and the rest of the Our Horizons team encourage people to start small. “Bike, carpool, recycle,” she urges – a piece of advice that lines up with their project and the simplicity of thought. Anything is always better than nothing, and alas, too many people are doing nothing.


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