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Hot Topics Calendar

Exploring current issues in the classroom

This feature was developed by Resources for Rethinking to connect students to some of the efforts being made to solve important problems that are affecting our planet. Hot Topics are published during the school year to coincide with the timing of national and international campaigns taking place to raise awareness of these key issues.

Each Hot Topic edition includes links to classroom materials from theResources for Rethinking database that will encourage students and teachers to explore the environmental, economic and social dimensions of these issues and to take action in support of the larger campaign.

Hot Topics Calendar

UN International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

September 16

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

Fall 2015

World Food Day

October 16

Waste Reduction Week

October 19-25, 2015

World Fisheries Day

November 21

Buy Nothing Day

November 28, 2015

COP 21: UN Climate Change Conference

November 30- December 11, 2015

World Wetlands Day

February 2

World Day of Social Justice

February 20

World Water Day

March 22

Earth Hour

March 26, 2016

Earth Day

April 22

International Day for Biological Diversity

May 22

World Environment Day

June 5, 2016

National Aboriginal Day

June 21

Canada Day

July 1


Buy Nothing Day:
November 28th, 2015

Spend a day without spending!  The first Buy Nothing Day was organized in Vancouver in 1992 to draw attention to the role played by advertising in overconsumption in the developed world. It has since grown into an international effort to underscore the environmental, ethical and social consequences of consumerism.   Celebrated in North America on the day after American Thanksgiving, Buy Nothing Day marks what has traditionally become known as the first day of the Christmas shopping season.  It is an excellent occasion to stop and think about the serious effects that ‘what’ and ‘how much’ we buy are having on the environment and on those living in the developing world where much of what we consume is produced.   

In anticipation of Buy Nothing Day 2015, teachers and students from around the world will be exploring the benefits of consuming less, re-using more and challenging companies to clean up and be fair.


  • Source: http://thecouponproject.com20% of the world’s population lives in the developed world and consumes 80% of the earth's natural resources.  In other words we are consuming far more than our share of the earth’s wealth while causing a disproportionate amount of environmental damage.
  • According to United Nations, the average North American consumes 35 times more of the earth’s resources than a person living in India?
  • Currently four to six hectares of land are required to sustain the consumption demands of the average person from a high-consumption country like Canada.
  • Advertisers spend an average of $370 a year on every person in Canada to get us to buy their stuff.  Over $200,000,000,000 is spent on product advertising world-wide.
  • More and more of the goods we consume are produced in developing countries where labor is cheap and fewer safeguards are in place to protect workers and the environment.
  • Today’s consumption is undermining the environmental resource base of our planet.  60% of the Earth’s ecosystem services have been degraded in the past 50 years
  • The raw materials and production methods used to make many of the products we consume have harmful side effects on the health of humans, wildlife and the environment.
  • Consumers are constantly forced to buy excessive and unnecessary packaging used by manufacturers, box stores, and supermarkets to increase product appeal.
  • Many of the materials used in product packaging cannot be re-used or recycled.
  • While recycling is good for the environment, consuming less is even better.

Resources 4 Rethinking encourages students and teachers to participate in the Buy Nothing Day.  Top R4R Picks will connect you to some excellent resources to further explore the issues related to consumerism.

For more information on activities taking place around the world check out Buy Nothing Day.

COP 21:
Nov. 30-Dec. 11, 2015


The 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change:

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was drafted in 1992 in an effort to combat global warming.  Since 1995 representatives of the world’s governments, international organizations and other interested groups have been meeting annually to assess progress in dealing with the climate change.   This group, known as the Conference of Parties is responsible for adopting resolutions that establish the international rules needed to meet the challenges posed by our changing climate. 

In 2015, the 21st Conference of the Parties will gather in Le Bourget, France on November 30th.   This meeting is especially important as delegates from member countries including Canada will be working to achieve international agreement to keep global warming below 2°C.  The conference will also provide an opportunity to consolidate responses to climate change and to showcase the many ambitious adaptation and mitigation initiatives being implemented around the world.

COP 21 will capture world-wide media attention and in doing so provide teachers with an excellent context and timeframe for exploring climate change in the classroom. 

Why Care About International Cooperation on Climate Change?

Climate change is altering our planet.  Significant environmental, economic and social consequences are becoming more and more severe as global temperatures increase. 

  • Rising temperatures due to global warming threaten to increase flooding and droughts, putting millions of homes at risk and endangering as many as 30 percent of animal species, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • Two-thirds of the world's polar bears could be lost within 50 years as a result of retreating sea ice, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
  • The IPCC estimates 3 billion or more people will be at risk of water shortage due to climate change in the decades ahead.
  • Research conducted by the NRDC shows that if present trends continue, the total cost of global warming over the next century will be measured in the trillions of dollars.
  • Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity cause air pollution and are a key contributing factor to thousands of hospital stays and premature deaths in Canada each year.

Climate change will increasingly affect human health, species distribution and the ability of the earth’s ecosystems to sustain our economic, social and environmental needs.  How we deal with climate change is a crucial discussion that teachers and students should be actively engaged in.

Resources 4 Rethinking encourages students and teachers to explore climate change issues.  Top R4R Picks will connect you to some excellent resources to support these efforts.

For more Information check out the COP 21 website.