It happened! I gave my first “Life Without Plastic” talk, hosted by Wildsight, just in time for Earth Day (my favourite “holiday”). I was very nervous since last having spoken to a large group of people over a year ago, but I managed! I still feel gratitude and I’m buzzing with optimism after this week. Here’s why:
On Tuesday I attended Wildsight’s AGM and we were fortunate to have Ingrid Liepa as our guest speaker. She discussed “environmental optimism”, a term coined by UN’s Christiana Figueres. What I got out of it is we must embrace that we are the change and that we can and need to solve our climate crisis, not by focusing on the doom and gloom, but rather staying optimistic about what we can (and must) do.
I thought that talk was rather perfectly timed since I have been on the search for my own environmental optimism through all of you. Since March I have been featuring individuals taking action and who inspire me. This gives me the push I need to do one more thing; change one more thing to help fix the problem. One person does make a difference – we are doing it right now!
And so I had the wonderful opportunity to speak about my own changes in zero waste and plastic free living during Earth Week. The turnout was great and it gave me such a good vibe! Some of my friends and family were also there to support, which made me feel all warm and tingly, especially since they get my jokes and quirks! Soulfood was the perfect spot to have our talk, my favourite local restaurant; they try to be as zero-waste as possible, offering local, organic food.
So, this is the short version of what I discussed:
How I got inspired to change:
It started with an opportunity to work with Wildsight as a project coordinator that introduced me to the Clean Bin Project documentary. For some reason it took me that long to realize what kind of problem we had with waste, namely plastic waste, and so I decided to “Do one thing”. I started composting. Then I thought… I can do more! I took it upon myself and acknowledged my environmental responsibility, hence my being on this journey now to zero waste and sustainability.
How this plastic problem started:
Disposable plastics have been around since the early 1900s, but they weren’t overly advertised until the 40s and 50s; pampers were advertised to save mothers time and money, disposable cutlery was advertised to housewives so they didn’t have to spend time cleaning up after cooking all day long. The media tried to make you believe you’d be a better parent if you used disposable plastics!
We then learned to value convenience and speed above all else, and did not consider the consequences. We were also told the fairytale of a land called “Away”.
What this means for our environment:
Here I discussed the plastic numbers (millions, billions, trillions), and gave many visuals as to what that plastic waste looks like, what it is doing to marine life and ecosystems, and what it means when we hear that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. Using photography by Chris Jordan and Gregg Segal, and heartbreaking wildlife scenes suffocating in plastic from the media, I was able to show what these millions, billions, and trillions of plastic particles look like. I hoped that someone would feel something, which enables change.
Let’s not forget our dependence on fossil fuels to fuel our plastic obsession…
What we can do about it:
This was the fun part, as I showed many different frequently-used items that were an alternative to plastic: stainless steel straws, cloth bags, produce bags, bamboo cutlery, travel mug, reusable water bottle, handkerchief, etc. As a group we discussed what other items are difficult to find without plastic packaging, and what we could use/not use instead (cosmetics, toiletries, medications, etc.).
My biggest message here was REFUSE. That is something we must practice often. Refuse the plastic packaging, call companies out on it, and also commend the companies that use a sustainable alternative.
Who else is doing something about it:
I highlighted organizations such as 4Ocean, 5Gyres, Take 3 for the Sea, Wildsight, Zero Waste Bloggers Network, etc., that are taking action against our plastic (and other environmental) problems, and that we can look to for inspiration or resources. Again, this fit well into my hope-seeking and environmental optimism, as I am trying to celebrate those who are taking action rather than dwelling on what is not being done.
Resources to help us succeed:
Here I listed documentaries such as the Clean Bin Project and A Plastic Ocean, books such as Junk Raft and Zero Waste Home, blogs such as yours truly the Zero Journey and the Zero Waste Bloggers Network, and TV shows such as Blue Planet and War on Waste. I also listed online shops (since you cannot trust the packaging you will receive with the majority of companies) such as Life Without Plastic, Tiny Yellow Bungalow, and Lush as being places where you will receive sustainable packaging with your order.
The talk was very well received and I heard lots of positive feedback. Attendees had questions, suggestions, and discussion points, which was really refreshing. If anything, I hope I inspired at least one person to do one thing 🙂 Woo!
How did your Earth Week go?
Your talk sounds AMAZING, Nadine, I’m sad to have missed it. Way to go, you are an inspiration to many 🙂
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