Plastic-Free People: Mackenzie Johnson

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, Mackenzie!

What is your name? Do you have a nickname?  Do you have an IG name? 

Nice to meet you, I’m Mackenzie! I also answer to Kenz, Mack, Kenzie, or “hey you!” You can find me on Instagram

Describe your PF-Superpower used to fight plastic pollution in our city?  In other words, what is your role with PFYYC?

My super-power coordinating and organizational skills come in handy as Plastic FreeYYC’s Events & Volunteer Coordinator. Along with planning and coordinating volunteers for Calgary’s 1st Zero Waste Festival, I’ve been involved in our upcoming certification program!

When you aren’t volunteering your super powers to fight plastic pollution, who are you? What are you doing? 

I’m currently finishing up a Bachelor of Communications at Mount Royal University. My major is Information Design, which is a combination of people-centered strategy and visual design.

I always have a few projects on the go, one of which is volunteering with Plastic Free YYC, as well as: 

  • freelancing with some super fun humans
  • connecting people and design with in form studio
  • designing information at Trico Changemakers Studio
  • pilot project-ing with the Near Here team
  • loving my day job as ActivateYYC Coordinator with The Federation of Calgary Communities

Being part of the plastic-free movement is important to me because:

We only have one planet, and we need to be kind to it. So much impact is possible by changing people’s mindsets and habits. It’s a big job, but it’s also a really important one.

Going plastic-free is a journey. On a scale of 1 to 1,000,000,  1 being: you have heard a rumor that using plastic is so last year. 1,000,000 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’d say I’m somewhere around step 408, 297. There’s still such a long way to go! I’ve got the basics covered: reusable water bottle and coffee cup, silverware to go kit, reusable bags and containers, a love for mason jars. Once you get started, you realize just how deep it goes and how much more there is to learn. Joining the Plastic Free YYC team counts for at least 10 steps in my journey, everyone has such diverse perspectives and the best tips and tricks!

What has been the hardest part of reducing your plastic waste? What was the easiest? 

I did a two-year fast fashion ban and the hardest part was switching my mindset. I’ve moved a lot in recent years and I’ve gotten so sick of packing up bags and bags of clothes each time. It’s a process, but it’s a great way to figure out what you really need and want.

One of the easiest switches has been a reusable water bottle. My current bottle has been with me for almost three years and has gone as far as England. I’m also a serious mason jar collector. You can use them for EVERYTHING.

Do you have a guilty pleasures – plastic items you still use- you want to share? 

Take out. I’ve been getting pretty creative, and at my local Opa I’m referred to as “the Tupperware girl”, but it’s tricky to avoid plastic when eating out. My best advice is don’t ask… When you bring your own container don’t say “Can you put it in here?”, say “I’ll take it to go in here”. It’s amazing how many more yeses I get, since making that slight switch in wording.

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?

Just start. It’s not important to be someone with a mason jar of waste from the last 5-years, it’s important that you start with something small and then keep learning and improving from there.

And have fun with it! At the end of the day, it’s so rewarding to come up with a super creative way to use a mason jar or repurpose something old into something new.

Published by


sunskywater muses about relationships between people and the environment.