Jason Lee is a guest blogger for our 80×50 Blog site. Jason traveled with Toronto350.org to participate in the People’s Climate March in New York City where approximately 400,000 marchers made history with the largest ever demonstration for Climate Action.

As a recent graduate in environmental engineering, the idea of reducing my carbon footprint was more an academic notion than one that meant a change in my lifestyle. But when I finally left my university bubble, I was keen on seeing how I could make a difference in the world.

I signed up to attend last Sunday’s People’s Climate March in New York City. We travelled by bus from Toronto to Brooklyn, where we slept on the floor in a church basement, marched with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, then hopped on a bus back to Toronto.

The irony of some 300 Torontonians burning copious amounts of fossil fuels to protest against fossil fuel production was not lost on me, but the experience was worth it to be part of climate history and surround myself with thousands of like-minded people for a couple days. Furthermore, we did it for a good cause. I think everyone who was on that bus looks forward to the day when we won’t have to burn fossil fuels to fight climate change.

Even so, it’s worth reflecting on what this demonstration accomplished.

In terms of our direct goals of substantially lowering greenhouse gas emissions, we won’t be able to gauge our success until after the Climate Change Negotiations in Paris, 2015, to see how decision makers have reacted to our actions. Still, the march was an impressive display of solidarity for a common cause. And that’s important because I’m sure there are millions of people like me who, before the demonstration, sat at home thinking about how futile climate action was. I live in a world where people, friends, and family care more about the iPhone 6 than the future of our planet. So it gives hope to a lot of people that there are so many individuals out there who share the same point of view – that they are not alone.

During the march, we demanded that corporations and policy-makers change the way business is conducted. We blame big oil, mining and logging for all our environmental woes. At the same, consumer demand drives drilling for oil, digging up resources and destroying the rainforest. As long as the majority of people are willing to pay for oil and plastics, and continue to demand cheap products that require energy to produce, little is going to change. As long as we give companies positive reinforcement with our wallets to put profit and cheap goods ahead of the future of our planet, we can expect the status quo to continue.

That said, even small actions – such as mindful consumption – go a long way. We should support companies that have a good environmental track record, and we should refuse to buy from companies that are known to pollute the planet. The Global Footprint Network  is just one of many available websites to help you estimate your environmental impact so that you can identify areas where you most need to reduce that impact.

As far as I’m concerned Climate Week should last longer than just one week (a lifetime is more appropriate), but maybe this is what it takes to get the ball rolling. A week is an improvement over one hour (Earth Hour) or one day (Earth Day). Perhaps we could build on this time frame and institute a Green Month or Sustainable Year. Regardless, during this week I hope you think about how you fit into the global picture of climate action, and how you want to make your contribution.