I believe that sustainability extends beyond the environment. Sustainability is a lens. It is a perspective. Developing this perspective is a daily, life-long practice.
In a world where everything is fast: fast fashion, fast food, fast money, it is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind. This is called consumerism. We are constantly encouraged by ads, marketing, and society to grow our businesses, grow our wealth, to eat more, buy more, exercise more, study more, socialise more. More. More. More. Exponential growth is forced upon us.
This is where the practice of sustainability comes in. It is an active effort to chose products and lifestyles that are long-lasting, rather than short-lived. It is the pursuit of avoiding burnout. It is an effort to find balance in all aspects of life.
Gloria Steinem, a famous writer and feminist, once said, “All of our activist causes are tangled and rooted together, therefore, we must uproot them together.” I heard her speak these words in a small hall in Massachusetts, where she later signed autographs for her book. She is exactly right. All the causes and fights against: climate change, racism, sexism, homophobia, and poverty, are rooted and entangled together. For example, a gay, Black, woman should not have to fight for feminism, LGBTQ, and racial rights separately, because for her, they intersect. We should fight for all these fights and their intersections.
Let’s face it though, it can be exhausting to fight all the fights, to achieve all the personal goals, and help all the people. This is why I promote the idea of developing a “sustainable lens.” It is important to ask ourselves, “How do I keep participating in this this activism long-term? How do I eat plant-based long-term? How do I live a zero-waste lifestyle long- term?” If we truly want to make meaningful change, or in other words, be sustainable, we must ask ourselves these questions. We need to develop a long-term lens and therefore, long-term plans.
When I began deep-diving the topic of plastics, and learned about their harm to the environment and human health, I wanted to cut it all out. I pulled out all of the plastic that I owned and laid it out in front of myself. It was overwhelming. For a range of reasons, it was not possible to completely cut plastics out of my life, and it certainly was not healthy for me, mentally or physically to try and do so. It was at this point I came face to face with helplessness. I wanted to cut out plastics and make real change, but the world seemed to be built on it. Making real change seemed insurmountable. I began asking myself, how do I make this zero-waste lifestyle last?
In a more sustainable approach, I decided to reduce my plastic consumption more slowly. Day by day and product by product, I would search for new ways to beat plastic and soon enough, a lot of small changes made a big difference. Three years later, I now only empty a small bucket of rubbish every three weeks. This, compared to American’s production of four pounds of rubbish per day, is a massive reduction and effort.
Expecting change to come all at once, is exhausting and even paralyzing. Expecting change to come all at once can even stop us from trying to do good all together. This is where we require a shift in perspective. When we think about making sustainable change, we need to accept we are making lifestyle shifts. These shifts can and should take time.
I have found, that the cornerstone of building a sustainable life, is rooted in the ability to provide ourselves self-love. I am fully aware of how hippy-dippy that sounds, but it’s true. When our activist hearts feel like we haven’t made any change at all, we need to be kind to ourselves and remind ourselves of all the good work we have done. When I look at my rubbish bucket, and reach for shame or failure self-talk, I stop, and shift my perspective. I remind myself that my activism is a practice, and that it will always have room for growth. I will never win activism, so I need to just try and do it well, for as long as possible. Self-care, kindness, and love is crucial in sustaining the road to meaningful change.
Self-care and self-love may look different for everyone, so I encourage everyone to figure out their own needs. Michelle Obama wrote in her book, Becoming, that when she was working full time and raising two children, she had to wake up at 4am to get herself some “me-time” at the gym. These “me-time” sessions, that she mentions, are essential in sustainability. They are the sessions that keep you motivated. They are acts of self-care.
This website is compilation of what makes me, “me”. It is descriptive of all my passions and motivations. The knowledge that I will be sharing throughout the site was either taught to me by others directly or other people were the source of my inspiration, so it seems only fair to pay it forward. I hope this site is a space where everyone can feel safe and happy, no matter where you are starting your sustainability journey.
Passions and Occupations.
For the last five years, I have worked as a glacier guide. First, in Alaska, then in New Zealand. This is my current occupation. In 2018, I obtained my Hard Ice Guide Certification (HIG) from the New Zealand Mountain Guide Association (NZMGA) in order to have my skills recognised internationally. The thing I love most about my job is the time that I get to spend outdoors. The sun on my face, fresh air in my lungs, and the beautiful nature around me, is exactly where I am meant to be working.
Long- Trail Thru-Hiker
I completed the Long Trail in October 2019. The trail runs from the Canadian border to the Massachusetts border, through the state of Vermont. The 272 mile-long trail hits all of Vermont’s highest peaks, and doing it in fall lent me amazing foliage views.
My greatest accomplishment was not completing the trail itself, but it was the fact that I was able to do it in a “low-waste” way. By dehydrating half of my own meals and snacks, and using silicone reusable packaging and compostable packaging, my personal waste was very low. I hope to lead and inspire people to partake in more zero waste backpacking, so we can protect the nature and environments we are out enjoying!
Community Organiser and Volunteer
In March of 2019, a large rain storm hit my local community in Fox Glacier, New Zealand. We are a tiny town on the West Coast of New Zealand, and a three-hour drive from any major city. The storm lasted two days and it poured down one meter of rain, which is more rain than most places in the world across several years. This heavy rainfall caused the local Fox River to swell, erode, and scour the riverbanks. Large, rooted trees were easily pulled into the raging waters. The river eroded so far inland, that it reached an old, buried landfill. More than half the buried landfill was swept away by the flood waters. Rubbish (mostly plastic) was strewn down the river and out to sea. Rubbish was deposited along the 24-km-long riverbed and was spewed out into the ocean, which also happens to be a Marine Reserve for dolphins and penguins.
In response, myself and another individual, Mike Bilodeaou, worked hard to rally volunteers and attract media attention. The people of New Zealand heard our outcry and came to help in large numbers. Over the course of six months, almost one thousand volunteers helped to clean-up 200,000 tonnes of rubbish from the riverbed and coastline. Throughout the process I had the honour of being both a leader and a volunteer rubbish-picker-upper, which was arduous work. The most significant take-away and lesson from the clean-up was that a large number of individuals with a common goal, can have a large and positive impact. This lesson is one of the reasons I am so passionate about individuals partaking in zero waste and plant-based eating, because I know those individual acts really do matter and really do add up.
Following the Fox River Clean-Up, I began speaking at schools about the importance of sustainability. MY talks range from the history and life cycle of plastic, to my personal experience with trying to live a low waste life style, to how I use my interactions with nature as inspiration for protecting it.
I value story-telling and believe that it is effective in creating connection and change. It starts a conversation and creates a support network for anyone who is open to trying new things.
Please feel free to get in touch if you want to work together on a speaking or video project.
- University of Vermont ’15 and University of Sydney: Bachelor in Business Administration, with a concentration in International Management and focus in Marketing. Minor in Psychology.
- Wilderness First Responder
Share your story.
Lead by example.