Did you know that Plastic-Free YYC is operated by a group of dedicated and passionate volunteers?! This team uses their unique, personal talents and their spare time to promote plastic-free living in Calgary! We asked our team to answer some fun questions so you, our audience, can see the real faces of PFYYC…
Introducing, Amy Spark.
Sitting on the Board of Directors, Amy brings her experience and expertise to our board, providing key insight to sustainable strategies and initiatives. Her positivity and passion is contagious!
Describe your PF-Superpower used to fight plastic pollution in our city? In other words, what is your role with PFYYC?
I am a Board Member with Plastic-Free YYC, and I describe myself as a bit of a mutt of the environmental sector in Calgary; my passion is bringing people together and making connections between organizations, sectors, and individuals. I try to bring that network-weaving mindset to PFYYC whenever I can, helping in the background to organize events, find funding, and build partnerships with environmental organizations across the city.
When you aren’t volunteering your super powers to fight plastic pollution, who are you? What are you doing?
My family is extremely close, so I spend a lot of time with them. I love spending my weekends hanging out with my nephew, and seeing the world through his eyes. I seem to be the slowest commuter cyclist in Calgary, but enjoy exploring the city by bike and finding new routes and ways to get around.
My passion project is with Refugia Retreats; I co-founded this initiative with my friend and colleague Jodi Lammiman. We run workshops and retreats to promote conversations at the intersection of ecological and mental health. I work at Bow Valley College, and do consulting work with Alberta Ecotrust Foundation.
Being part of the plastic-free movement is important to me because:
The plastic-free movement allows you to step into environmental work in whatever way you want. At the source (ex: through a neighbourhood clean-up), all the way up to public policy, by engaging with local, provincial, and national governments. Everyone can find their niche. And it helps me feel as though I’m helping on multiple levels. Some days all I can do is pick up litter in my local park – other days I have the energy and foresight to call up my Councillor. All forms of work are helpful to the plastic-free movement.
Going plastic-free is a journey. On a scale of 1 to 1000, 1 being: you have heard a rumor that using plastic is so last year. 1,000 being: you live on another planet where plastic has never existed & Sea Turtles run the show!
How many steps have you taken? Describe in your own words where are you in your journey.
I’m not new to changing my behaviour as I learn the impact of certain actions. We are a one-car household on purpose, and I have been a vegetarian for four years. However, I AM new to the plastic-free movement. I would put myself at about 100 – I take a water bottle and travel mug wherever I go. I reuse ziplocs and bags as long as I can, buy food in glass or cardboard when I can, etc. But I have a long way to go! Generally, I just try to use things as long as possible. I still have my backpack from grade 7, and I have a 4-year old flip phone. Reuse and reduction of all materials is important to me.
What has been the hardest part of reducing your plastic waste? What was the easiest?
The hardest part is knowing where to start! Especially with grocery shopping (especially cheese and toiletries). The easiest thing to cut out for me was disposable coffee cups.
Do you have any guilty pleasures – plastic items you still use- you want to share?
Lots, unfortunately! I just checked my fridge – and there is a lot of plastic still in there! Strawberries, cheese, yogurt. It’s just really hard to get away from those products.
What is your #1 tip or a piece of advice for our followers and fellow Calgarians who want to help reduce the plastic in their lives?
Something that I have learned over the past few years is being strategic with my time. To be honest, I find it tiring to live plastic-free in every action, everyday. I also don’t have access to a car during the week, so getting to zero-waste or bulk stores can add a lot of time to my day. But I have heard from multiple politicians a single letter has the power to sway or influence their decisions; this has allowed me to see action in a different way. So, I spend more of my time these days engaging with my elected officials. I try to write letters of support to my MLA, city Councillor, and MPs when I see them proposing or passing good policy, and communicate my concerns and questions when I see policy decisions being made that have detrimental impacts.
The best piece of advice I got from someone is “you don’t need to be an expert to talk to your elected officials.” It is not your job to be an expert in plastic waste, or climate change, or homelessness, etc. – your job is to be an engaged citizen. So share your concerns in a respectful way. Even if you receive a classic “non-answer” email where you can tell they have cut and paste the answer from a hundred other emails, that’s okay. Politicians still take notice when people write letters – MUCH more so than petitions.