Ugly Christmas sweaters are helping bring awareness to climate change

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Wildsight Invermere is bringing a unique twist to the holidays this year by combining the beloved ugly Christmas sweater with climate change awareness. Individuals are invited to turn down their heaters and pull on the ugliest sweater they can find, snapping a photo to commemorate the occasion.

The Ugly Christmas Sweater challenge then invites participants to sign Wildsight’s official Climate Pledge— a three-step promise to take into account one’s personal impact on the environment. The pledge was created from a variety of sources, including Wildsight itself, their volunteers, environmental activists, along with writers and thinkers like Robin Wall Kimmerer and Val Plumwood.

“The main goal of the Climate Pledge is to empower citizens to take action to reduce personal and community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and thereby counteract climate change,” says Katarina Graves, Climate Change Resilience Coordinator for Wildsight.

This will be the first year that the initiative will take place, as climate change becomes more and more prevalent both worldwide and in the Columbia Valley, noted by the overwhelming influx of warmer temperature, wildfires, and natural disasters. Although it may seem as though little can be done to combat the global crisis, Graves holds onto hope for the future, adding that “space heating was the largest contributor to building emissions in BC in 2018, so a collective effort to turn down our thermostats could be truly impactful.”

Graves says the inspiration for the Ugly Christmas Sweater Challenge is to “to simultaneously draw attention to the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings — the second largest non-industrial source of emissions in Invermere and British Columbia as a whole — and to have a little fun (and hopefully a few laughs) while doing it.”

As of last week, nearly 100 people signed the virtual Climate Pledge. However, Graves wishes for more to enact real, meaningful change. “we’d love to see that figure rise to reflect a broader community commitment to ensuring a just, sustainable future for Invermere and the Columbia Valley.”

Those interested in signing the pledge can do so at https://wildsight.ca/branches/invermere/climatepledge/. Those wanting to submit an ugly Christmas sweater photo can send them to Kat directly at ccrc@wildsight.ca or post it on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #UglySweatersSaveEmissions.

Haley Grinder, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer

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