Cheryl McNamara

Bullfrog Power customer

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Cheryl McNamara

We often look to governments to aid us in our efforts to effect positive change. Sometimes it falls to the citizens to create the change they desire. The most powerful efforts to create change, however, are driven by governments and citizens working together.

Bullfrog Power customer Cheryl McNamara is a proponent of these collaborative efforts. Cheryl is a writer and volunteer at Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL), a joint Canada-U.S. initiative spearheaded by volunteers who advocate for environmental change at all levels of government.

“We want to do meaningful work toward transitioning to a low-carbon economy,” Cheryl says of herself and her peers. “Our focus here in Canada is working on adopting a national sustainable energy strategy.” CCL promotes environmental policy by meeting with media and politicians, as well as writing to newspapers and parliament and organizing rallies.

Staying carbon slim

Cheryl’s environmental actions began in 2005, as she explains: “I read A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright. Up until then, I was concerned about the environment like most people, but that concern didn’t translate into any kind of action.

“After reading Wright’s book, which demonstrated how ancient civilizations had risen and fallen because of their treatment of the environment and natural resources, I thought to myself, ‘Oh my god, we’re actually doing this on a global level.’”

Deciding to “walk the talk” and reduce her personal footprint, Cheryl began to change her day-to-day lifestyle and chronicled her efforts in her blog, Carbon Slim, named so “because I thought we were all ‘Carbon Obese,’ me in particular, and I needed to shave off a few carbon tons.”

Among her sustainable efforts, Cheryl’s most significant action came as a result of an ecoENERGY audit conducted on her house. The resulting retrofits included the installation of a solar water heating system, and the addition of a high efficiency furnace, added wall insulation and high efficiency doors and windows. Cheryl also made the decision to choose green energy with Bullfrog for her home.

Cheryl's blog that started it all
Cheryl’s blog that started it all

“I signed up with Bullfrog in 2007 and I’ve been a happy participant ever since,” she says. “Choosing Bullfrog was very much a family decision. My spouse, Jane Moffatt, is definitely on board.”

After starting her blog, Cheryl shared her lighthearted posts with friends and family, garnering a positive response. After the changes to her home, however, she came upon a realization. “We were able to increase the efficiency of our 90-year-old home by more than 30 per cent, which is something I take pride in,” she says, “But then I asked myself, ‘Now what?’ I’ve done my bit as much as I can do, so I decided to become more politically involved.”

Advocating for the environment

In 2010, Cheryl was introduced to Citizens Climate Lobby by Cathy Orlando, a Sudbury-based environmental advocate and speaker trained by Al Gore. “Cathy met CCL’s founder, Marshall Saunders, when she was in the States, and so I learned about the organization through her.” Cheryl was convinced to focus her environmental efforts through CCL.

Cheryl with colleagues at Capitol Hill
Cheryl with colleagues at Capitol Hill

Citizens Climate Lobby focuses on lobbying all levels of government and building relationships with local politicians to raise awareness for climate change policy. Cheryl notes that it’s important to set aside any negativity when it comes to discussing environmental change. “With the challenges that we face in terms of climate change, it’s easy to be negative and paint the politicians or media with the same brush,” she says. “I think we hamstring ourselves when we do that. There are a lot of politicians that are working for the right reasons. They are passionate people. By cultivating respectful relationships with people, you can really go a long way and that’s certainly the core of what we do.”

As for the future, Cheryl continues to focus her efforts through the Climate Citizens Lobby. “I’m going to continue because we have a big road ahead of us. I want to continue to be a communicator of change, and continue to write about these issues.

“We need to be innovators in this change. Transitioning to clean energy is going create healthier living, and it’s going to improve connections between our neighbours and our community. Canadians need to get back on board.”