Wendy Li: Sustainable Human of Guelph

Welcome to the third post for the Sustainable Humans of Guelph series!

Meet Wendy Li, a fourth year in the Landscape Architecture program; who is insanely passionate about sustainability communities and design!

Wendy is someone you always want to be your friend, because you KNOW she is going to do something incredible and be inspirational to everyone around her. I had the pleasure of meeting Wendy through our exchange to Lund University in Sweden and I am honestly so glad we went to the same place for exchange (Thanks CIP!). Her passion for unique building designs and European style architecture made every trip a fun learning one too! She even used her LA skills to identify a tree species while walking along a street in Warsaw, Poland. She is truly incredible and a really interesting person to know. She has a unique take on sustainability and an overall super kind personality. She also is a coordinator for this year’s Sustainability Week, so she is prime example of a sustainable human of Guelph!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Wendy and her ideas around sustainability as well as her involvement with Sustainability Week. The following questions and answers are her responses!

What is your sustainability pet peeve?

“Running taps, plastic bags, Ontario’s recycling system (I went on exchange in the beautiful Lund, Sweden last year this time, and they differentiate between the coloured glass they recycle!!!) and the mentality that what we do on a local level doesn’t have an impact to change the status quo. And of course, it takes more research and energy to change your lifestyle or routine, but I promise you it feels amazing when you take the initiative to live by your values.  Small steps can include making conscious decisions as a consumer. And though I don’t have a perfect system,  one small change that I’ve made this year is that I’ve stopped plastic bagging my fruits and veggies (Honestly! it can be small changes like that which makes all the difference). Also always looking for suggestions of package free food options, and if you have any I would love to hear them!”

What is one sustainability initiative you would like to see at Guelph?

“More education about composting, and the Guelph Urban Organic Farm at the University of Guelph ( just because personally I don’t know that much about these topics and would love to learn more)! There are also so many cool initiatives going on in the city of Guelph at the local level I wish there were more of a connect between the education we learn in classrooms  and application. More partnerships between the university and local stores or organizations as a learning tool is definitely something I would love to see. “ 

What are you involved with on campus?

“Currently, I am one of the co-planners of Sustainability Week 2018! Super excited about unveiling the week to showcase all the hard work everyone has put in. It’s very encouraging to see such talented individuals who are passionate about various efforts to better our planet. In addition to that I am the publicist of the Landscape Architecture Student Society, and also a part of the Dragon Boat Club at the university. “

Can you talk a bit about your role in Sustainability Week? What do you hope people take out of your events?

“My role in S-Week as a co-planner zones in on Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which is Sustainable Cities and Communities. I really hope to bring light to some components of what a sustainable city looks like through a Pecha Kucha talk and a Donuts and Doodle design charrette to showcase how individuals can contribute and play a part in their communities. Projects such as urban farming, community design, walk-ability in our streets or sustainable transportation, are all important pieces of the urban fabric puzzle which come together to shape our everyday lives. Though everyone says that good design should be 99% invisible, I really do believe that everyone should be involved in how our cities are built. It’s an interdisciplinary task which involves multiple stakeholders, and ultimately the community only gets better when everyone is involved.  Overall I hope everyone can get new insight or learn something new through the activities we have worked very hard to plan.”

What is an issue you are super passionate about?

“One issue I am passionate about is permaculture as a design philosophy. More specifically permaculture designs applied in orchards! I recently wrote my thesis about this topic and now I can’t look at almonds the same. I’m being serious. I think as a whole, our society has become more and more disconnected from the way food is produced, and a lot of the times we forget to think about the process behind the food on our tables. It’s problematic, and lets look at almonds for example. Almonds are grown on trees, and these nut trees go through intensive growth in the arrangement of mono-culture. Mono-culture especially in orchards which are embedded in the landscape for 10 plus years strips the land of the same nutrients and prevents biodiversity. Mono culture is usually a result of requiring an up in yield as a response to consumer demands, and since almonds are such a poster nut you can see why this is a concern. Almonds are a very water intensive crop, and need to be sustained in the events of droughts. California produces 80% of the worlds supply of almonds, and when you put the two together, nothing makes sense. In addition to this, there’s also the issue of pollinators. Because mono-culture is so intensive in the growth of one species, there is no habitat for bees for a good portion of the year, and did you know that bees have to be transported all they way from Florida in the back of trucks to pollinate these almond orchards? All in all, there’s a better way of designing for these food systems which is where permaculture comes into play. It mimics nature in creating as close to a closed loop system as possible, where landscapes can become self-sustaining in thinking beyond organic farming which still needs external input such as fertilizer! There is still a lot of research which needs to be done in this field and there aren’t too many precedents of commercial permaculture orchards. However I think this is an important topic in bringing us one step closer to sustainable food production!”

What would be your dream future career after graduating?

“I was hoping I wouldn’t have to answer this question, it hits way too close to home (I’m graduating this year, but also what is adulting?). I really love Landscape Architecture, it’s afforded me a way to see the world in which I never thought I would. Ever since being in this program, the way people interact with nature and landscapes have zoned in on a sharp focus, and it also has enough variety in terms of projects to keep me constantly learning. It’s such a far reaching field which has impact on how people live their lives, and I’m positive that my career path will stay close to this field. This is wishful thinking, but a company I would love to be involved in is Sidewalk Labs, which is an Alphabet company helping cities re imagine traditional ways of development to overcome a lot of major challenges.Traditional methods in city building are outdated in the face of climate change among other factors, and designing for resiliency should become more of primary concern now more than ever, which is what Sidewalk Labs is trying to address. Technology and innovation as a whole really fascinate me, but on the flip side, I think a dream job of mine has also been to just work in an alpaca farm, so I have some polarizing aspirations!”

 If you are also interested in learning more about how cities can be designed to be more sustainable or you also share a passion for Swedish recycling systems or permaculture, make sure you go attend Wendy’s events on March 20th or check them out online! FB:Guelphsweek or Instagram: @guelphsustainabilityweek

 

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Emma Fox: Sustainable Human of Guelph

Welcome to the our second Sustainable Human of Guelph blog series! This blog features individuals in the Guelph community, who exemplify sustainable lifestyles and a passion for creating change!

This week’s featured individual is Emma Fox! Emma is a third year Environmental Governance student who is super passionate about sustainable lifestyles! Emma ALWAYS has a smile on her face and an optimistic attitude! She is what other people in her program would call “professional hippie chic”.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Emma and the following questions and answers are her responses!

What is your sustainability pet peeve?

“Disposable one-use cups! You could make mountains with the amount of wasteful cups that are thrown out everyday. Large corporations like Starbucks and Tim Horton’s make little to no effort in creating cups that can be recycled or composted. People spend more money buying large coffees, when if they brought their own reusable mug they are only charged the size of a small. Tim Horton’s even promotes the use of their disposable cups through “roll up the rim.” You would think that these money making companies could direct some spending into environmental matters but no – corporate greed wins overall.”

What are you involved with on campus?

“I am involved in running Sustainability Week 2018, and I am a part of my program society Environmental Governance.”

Can you talk a bit about your role in Sustainability Week? What do you hope people take out of your events?

“My role for Sustainability Week this year is planning Friday March 23rd, and running social media. The Friday is based around UN SDG number 12: Responsible Production and Consumption. I will be hosting a Sustainability Fair with so many amazing companies like One Species, Outpost Vintage, the Truth Beauty company and many more local or large companies. Each company shows in some way that they are ethical and sustainable. There will be coffee, music, and more! I am also having a zero-waste workshop run by Kelsey Walker of Environmental Governance. This will challenge people to think outside the box and realize becoming Zero-Waste does not have to be a chore. I have also been working day and night to promote Sustainability Week on Instagram and Facebook (like and follow us!!!), because I care so much about what we are doing, and I think everyone can benefit and take away a lot from the several inspiring events we will be having. Caring about the environment is everything. We need it to survive, we need our planet to thrive, otherwise the human race will not exist. Simple as that. Sometimes our consumer driven society forgets to appreciate what the environment does for us, and what it is worth other than profit.”

 What is an issue you are super passionate about?

“An issue that I am super passionate about is animal welfare. Not only is this beef loving society killing innocent animals who don’t want to die, the meat industry is also killing our planet! Cows produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and their mass production emits it at alarming rates. In addition, beef production is the most water reliant food production process, and uses excessive amounts of water. The dairy industry is also an ethical monstrosity. That cow is not your mother, you do not need the milk that comes from her utters. Her child does. But where is that child? Gone, slaughtered for veal or put into the same system as her mom. People are profiting from animal abuse and enjoying it too. It’s and ethical and environmental issue that needs to stop.”
 

What would be your dream future career after graduating?

“I would say I don’t have a dream career. All I know is that I want to keep fighting for what I believe in and learn as much as possible along the way. I want to spread my knowledge and opinion as far as it will go, and learn more about this beautiful planet of ours and the beautiful people in it.”

Be sure to follow Emma Fox’s work encouraging ethical consumption and responsible consumerism by following Guelph Sustainability Week on Instagram and Facebook at @guelphsustainabilityweek or University of Guelph Sustainability Week 2018! If you are also super passionate about responsible consumption make sure to attend Emma’s events on Friday March 23rd!

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Emily De Sousa: Sustainable Human of Guelph

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! 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 humankind 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?
Let us know by emailing smedia@uoguelph.ca

 

Wastefree Wednesday: Water Bottles – Part Two

If you didn’t read our last #WasteFreeWednesday post All About Plastic Water Bottles, stop right here and read that first!
Now that you’re informed about the issues surrounding bottled water, we have compiled a few ways that YOU can help lead the world towards a water bottle free future. Plus, check out Maddy’s account of Waterstock 2017!

Continue reading “Wastefree Wednesday: Water Bottles – Part Two”

Sustainable Spotlight: IKEA

A lot of us love to shop, but sometimes it’s hard to keep in mind which companies are sustainable or have environmentally friendly products. So, we did a bit of research and found that IKEA has a number of sustainable practices that we liked. From energy saving tips, to sustainable appliances, IKEA deserves the Spotlight this week.

Most of the information that we will be providing you with is available at: IKEA Sustainable Living.

Continue reading “Sustainable Spotlight: IKEA”