10 Questions with March’s #LocalHero, Jennifer

1)  Tell us a bit about yourself! 

I am currently finishing my last year of undergrad specializing in Finance at the University of Ottawa. One interest of mine is volunteering. Specifically, I am involved with a club called Enactus on campus where students run social enterprises and projects. I am a co-project manager for Poly CycleSystems where we help divert plastic by manufacturing and selling small-scale plastic recycling systems and collaborating with local partners for further awareness and action on the plastic waste issue in our community. Some fun facts about me are I love being outdoors, hiking, biking, and reading.

2)  What inspired you to start getting involved with your community? 

I started volunteering very young back in my hometown at the local sports club. I loved seeing how my help can spark joy in those around me or make a real difference. I could see that with my help and working with other volunteers we can do so much more than we think to positively change the world and make it even better for generations to come.

3) What specific actions/steps do you take to help the environment? 

Being part of Poly has been the most prominent way I have helped take action to help the environment. We work with operators to help them divert their community’s plastic waste into brand-new products using our shredder and injection molder machines. Each machine can divert over 5,500 lbs. of plastic each year which equals around 280,000 plastic water bottles! My team also runs many plastic drives that we collect from schools, hotels, and other local businesses to keep their waste from going to landfills. Lastly, we go into schools and offer workshop programs to educate them on the plastic crisis and what they can do in their daily lives to help the environment.


4) Why is having clean shorelines important?

Clean shorelines are extremely important as it helps all surrounding ecosystems thrive. Many species either die or go extinct because of plastic and other waste entering the ocean or inevitably being washed up onto shorelines. If we keep shorelines clean and continue to be mindful of what we are throwing away we can help marine life grow and thrive in their natural habitats. 

5) What challenges or obstacles do you face when pursuing your goals?

Some obstacle we have faced when pursuing Poly is finding more partners to collaborate our mission with. We know many are passionate about sustainability and a healthy environment, but we would love to find those individuals and empower them even more with resources and support to be a leader and advocate in their community. 

6) How do you keep yourself motivated, and avoid eco fatigue?

The end goal always keeps me motivated. I know that every small bit of push and drive can make a difference. Even if you think your small contribution is not helping much, it really is! I also like to try new innovative ideas which keeps things fresh and exciting when pursuing environmental goals.

7) Who inspires you in terms of activism and making a difference?

My teammates, friends, and family inspire me so much. They are always there to support and encourage my passion for the environment. I owe a lot of my perseverance to them as they are huge advocates themselves and help greatly on projects with me. They inspire me with new ways of looking at a situation or advice or ideas that make working on environmental issues that much more rewarding and fun.

8) What has been your favorite experience on this journey so far?

My favorite experience so far was attending an Enactus World Cup in Puerto Rico last fall. This was a competition where we got to see what projects and initiatives schools around the world were doing to socially, environmentally, or economically impact the world. It was so eye-opening and enlightening to see the amazing work people are doing to help the plastic waste issue, food insecurity or clean water and so many more. I got to network with like-minded people who love making a difference just as much as I do and took back so many insights to help on my journey to continue to help the environment. 

9) What was something that surprised you during your journey? 

One thing that pleasantly surprised me was how one idea to help the planet can turn into so many more little projects. As the world changes and you come into contact with new teammates and partners it was amazing to see the ideas flow, and it helps make environmental initiative programs so much more impactful and innovative. 

10) Do you have any recommendations for people wanting to make a difference in their community? 

The first thing I would recommend is joining a volunteer committee. If you are a student there are so many clubs that tackle various environmental issues and getting involved from there is so rewarding. If not in school there could be community centers and committees in your region that would most likely love to have you join them in running their programs or hearing any of your new ideas to make your town or city more sustainable.

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