Welcome to the first of many Sustainable Humans of Guelph blog posts! Here we will be featuring various individuals in the Guelph community, who are actively living sustainable lifestyles and changing the world for the better.
EMILY DE SOUSA
The first sustainable human of Guelph is Emily De Sousa, Guelph’s own ocean warrior! She is actively fighting for the world’s oceans through promoting sustainable seafood consumption and marine governance!
Emily is one of those people, that when you meet them, you instantly know that they are going to change the world. She is a third year at the University of Guelph in the Environmental Governance program and has a definite focus on marine conservation and governance! Her on campus involvement is quite impressive and honorable! She is the Tap In campaign director, who is fighting to get plastic water bottles off the University of Guelph campus! She is also president of Her Campus and the communications director of the Environmental Governance Society. To top it all off, she is one the directors of Sustainability Week and is the chief coordinator of the Water Day on Thursday March 22nd, 2018. She is definitely a very passionate person, who has perfected her time management skills!
Emily also runs a popular travel blog called “Airplanes and Avocados” that focuses on environmentally friendly travel! It’s a great way to learn tips and tricks to sustainable travel and to learn how to get involved in marine conservation! I would definitely recommend giving her blog a follow.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily for this post with a set of questions about her sustainable lifestyle and passion for the oceans. The following is the interview questions and answers!
What’s your biggest pet peeve in regards to sustainability?
My biggest pet peeve when it comes to sustainability is how easy it is. A lot of people think that sustainability and environmental change can only be achieved through groundbreaking innovation, massive policy changes, or historic international agreements, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sustainability is achieved through small changes in the everyday lives of ordinary people. Each and every person on this planet has the ability to start making a change right now and my biggest pet peeve in this world is that so many people think their actions don’t make a difference at all. I wish more people would believe in their ability to influence change at a grassroots level.
What was your earliest memory of caring for or being inclined to care for the environment/sustainability?
I’ll be honest in saying I haven’t always been an environmentalist. Growing up I was too immersed in competitive sports to give anything a second thought, nonetheless pay attention to environmental issues. But, I guess one of my first realizations to how bad things really were was in a first year environmental studies course at the University of Ottawa. I had taken it as an elective because I was in the middle of switching programs and was trying to “branch out” my interests. Little did I know that 7-10 class in the basement of the library would change my life. After that, my first time scuba diving after being certified really ignited my passion even further as I actually saw the true destruction of human kind with my own eyes on the ocean floor, facing corals that looked like cancer had sucked the life out of them and seeing more plastic bottles floating at sea than I’d ever seen in a vending machine. I remember feeling like I had been cheated. I’d grown up reading books about the ocean and seen pictures of flourishing reefs, when I got down to the bottom to see a total absence of life, I was angry, and I knew I needed to take action.
What are your passions in regard to sustainability?
My biggest passion when it comes to sustainability is our oceans. Earth truly is a blue planet – we’re more than 70% water! It’s crazy to think that so many people and organizations are so focused on land-based climate change externalities, but no one is really talking about our oceans. And at the end of the day, our oceans are the stabilizing force of this planet. They literally are the lungs of Earth, producing half the air we breathe and absorbing a third or our carbon dioxide emissions. I’m so passionate about the oceans because I love being in the water and swimming alongside beautiful marine animals like sharks, dolphins, and sea turtles, and believe me there is truly nothing more incredible than seeing the sunrise over the horizon of a never-ending ocean, but when it’s all said and done, I have to care about the oceans, we all have to care about the oceans. Because if the oceans die, we die.
Can you talk a bit about your work on campus in making it a more sustainable and environmental place?
I love Guelph. I’ll start with that. I think that Guelph is such a cool place to be studying environmental issues and there are so many opportunities for students to get involved in all sorts of sustainability initiatives here. Specifically on campus, I am the coordinator of the Tap In campaign that is fighting against plastic pollution and the privatization of water. Our goal is to end the sale of bottled water on all of Guelph’s campuses. In addition, I am a member of the Sustainability Week planning team, a super rad week here at Guelph that highlights global sustainability initiatives and strives to make students more aware about the environment, social, and economic aspects of sustainability. I’m also speaking at the upcoming OPIRG Symposium about sustainable seafood and how it relates to food security I’m a member of the Environmental Governance society, the president of an online magazine called Her Campus Guelph, and in the process of creating a Student Energy Chapter on campus.
Anything you would like to tell readers?
SMALL CHANGES MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.
Also, your voice matters. I get a ton of weird looks when, as a 22-year old, I tell people I actually do write letters to my members of parliament. For some reason young people think this is weird or pointless, but I swear I have gotten a response every single time I have written an MP about an issue that I am passionate about. Don’t be afraid to exercise your voice and speak out for what you believe in. And use that power, and your vote, to influence real change in this world.
As you can see, Emily De Sousa is an amazing environmental activist here at the University of Guelph! Everyone should keep an eye out to see how she will save our world’s oceans! Check out her website “www.airplanesandavocados.com” to see her blog posts and hear about her upcoming events! She also has super rad travel t-shirts that helps support marine conservation world wide! You can find those also on her website!
Do you know a sustainable human of Guelph? Nominate them through writing to email@example.com with a biography about their sustainable lifestyle!