Trades and the Climate Crisis:...

Trades and the Climate Crisis: Sustainable Practices

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Some people see the trades as being major contributors to the climate crisis. With many goods being manufactured in one place and then being shipped over the ocean or across the country, this idea is not surprising. However, with creative solutions to replace old practices, the trades can move towards sustainable practices that help to reduce their impact on the environment.

In the past and even now, people used the resources that were cheapest and most convenient instead of the ones that were sustainable. Diesel and gasoline were the most common fuels for running machines, and people were generally not very concerned with how these fuels were affecting the environment. Builders constructed houses and offices on wetlands, so that by now, about seventy percent of Canada’s wetlands have been lost in some areas and even up to ninety-five percent in areas with large populations. Factories have polluted waterways, and many of the trades have contributed to the climate crisis rather than helping to keep the natural world safe.

However, some tradespeople are trying to change. A British company called Futurepump, for example, has built environmentally friendly water pumps for people in countries like Nepal and Kenya. Renewable energy sources are replacing the diesel-fueled pumps to get water for their daily needs. Other companies are using environmentally friendly designs in their construction.

One example of these kinds of projects is the Manitoba Hydro building in Winnipeg. This building, which has glass covering almost all its exterior, was designed to use sixty-five percent less energy than a similar-sized building with a more traditional construction from concrete or stone. Other builders are also using better methods of construction to make offices and homes more energy efficient. In Paris, France, people have found ways of using the warm water from baths, showers, and dishwashers to generate electricity, and other people are using creative methods of reducing their impact on the environment.

Generally, engineers or people with similar skills are the ones who design new methods of generating electricity or reducing waste, but tradespeople can also help. Starting a small factory to produce goods locally can help reduce pollution, and using energy efficient methods can also help in reducing the impacts of climate change. Using the best insulation in construction, for example, can help keep buildings cool in summer and warm in winter.

According to research from the 3M Science Centre, about 700,000 people in the skilled trades are expected to retire between 2019 and 2028. Those retirements mean that younger people will have the chance to get jobs where they can possibly influence the choices that their employers make, or even become employers themselves. They can choose to build energy efficient buildings and to run factories close to where the markets for those goods are. They can recycle as much as possible and reduce their impact on the environment.

Individual tradespeople can also make a difference. Suppose that you have several jobs at opposite ends of the city. You could go back and forth many times in one day, or you could plan your work so that you can combine some of the jobs with other errands to use less fuel. You can use good-quality tools that last for years instead of cheaper ones that you might need to replace more often. With careful thought and planning, people in the trades can make a difference for the climate.



3M Science Centre. “The Future of Skilled Trades: Inspiring the Next Generation.” https://sciencecentre.3mcanada.ca/articles/the-future-of-skilled-trades-how-we-can-inspire-the-next-generation.

Government of Canada. “Government of Canada Promotes In-Demand Skilled Trades as a First-Choice Career Path.” https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/news/2022/01/skills-trade.html.

Government of Canada. “Nature-Based Climate Solutions.” https://www.canada.ca/en/services/environment/our-environment/nature-based-climate-solutions.html

World Economic Forum. “Rethinking Trade’s Relationship to the Fight Against Climate Change.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/02/rethinking-trades-relationship-to-the-fight-against-climate-change/.

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