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When I was in undergrad, I took an environmental management course and for the final exam, we had to write a paper on one of the listed topics following the same guidelines as the Canadian Association of Geographers Statistics Canada competition for best environmental paper. Our professor followed those guidelines so that we could submit the same paper for our exam for the competition. Thinking that it would be impossible to win, I wrote my paper on consumerism and came out of the course with an A+.

A few weeks later, I received an email from the head of the Environmental Study Geography Research Group notifying me that I won the competition. I was in disbelief. Throughout high school and university, I won scholarships based on grades alone, but this was my first win for my writing. 

As the winner of the 2008 CAG Environmental Best Paper, I was invited to present my research at a session for the CAG conference, an annual conference for geographers. This was extremely exciting, but also very nerve-wracking too because I never presented in front of such a large crowd full of people I didn’t know.

This was the start to my career in environmental research. Below is an excerpt from my award-winning paper, which was published in the CAG newsletter:

Consumerism is woven into the cultural fabric of our society: the sounds of people counting money, swiping credit cards, and crinkling shopping bags echo across the world. In Canada, the unprecedented growth of consumerism is a major concern, especially since Canada contains regions with some of the world’s highest population growth trends. The spread of consumerism entails risks to the environment: increasing levels of consumption, pollution, and waste can result in the detriment to the environment and one’s quality of life. In order to control this particular kind of growth, variables associated with consumerism need to be acknowledged, measured, and modeled. By examining consumerism, Canadians
may be able to suppress the upward trend of consumption that challenges the hope for a sustainable future.

You can read the full article here.

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