Today, we’d like to highlight Minaëlle Green, co-founder of the University of Ottawa’s Climate Crisis Coalition and this month’s #LocalHero!
The new coalition aims to create awareness of the climate crisis, educate students about plastic pollution, biodiversity decline, and the impact of agriculture as well as fossil fuels on the environment.
We asked Mina a series of questions to learn more about this amazing project, and what future endeavors are planned once the art has been created.
1) Tell us a bit about yourself and what motivated you to start getting involved with the environment.
I’m a fourth year Biology student at the University of Ottawa. I’ve always loved nature and being outdoors, but it wasn’t until recently that I got involved with the environment. In university, I started learning more about the climate crisis in my courses and watching more documentaries. I realized that if I wasn’t doing anything to help the environment, I was a part of the problem.
2) How did you first get involved with uOCCC?
I co-founded the UOCCC, University of Ottawa Climate Crisis Coalition, in January 2021. I was interested in getting more involved with the environment and encouraging fellow university students on campus to do the same.
3) Can you tell us why uOCCC is so important?
UOCCC is an easy and accessible way for students to get involved with the environment on campus. Many students are so eager to get involved, but don’t know how to do so. Our club allows them to get involved through various events, such as our cleanups with Plastic Oceans Canada, or by writing blog posts for our website.
4) What actions do you take to help the environment and why are they so important?
Firstly, I follow a plant-based diet. Transitioning from an animal-based diet to a mostly plant-based diet is something that truly reduces one’s environmental impact. Animal agriculture is not only terrible from an ethical perspective, but also for environmental reasons. Next, I try to live as low-waste as possible. I refuse single-use plastics such as takeout boxes and coffee cups and try to shop as much as possible at package free stores. Finally, I get involved within my community. On top of UOCCC, I also work at the University of Ottawa’s Sustainability Centre, where we push for climate action on campus.
5) What challenges or obstacles do you face when you take action?
Reading and seeing news about the current environmental situation, such as species going extinct or extreme weather events, can often overwhelm me. However, it also pushes me to continue fighting for the environment, in both my lifestyle choices and involvement in organizations like UOCCC.
6) How do you keep yourself motivated?
Seeing the increasing number of students that care and are willing to help make a difference is really motivating. I love that UOCCC has created opportunities for students to learn more about the environment and the changes they can make, as well as get involved in hands-on work like cleanups!
7) Who inspires you in terms of activism and making a difference in the environment?
Two of my environmental heroes are Dr. Sylvia Earle, a marine biologist, and Sir David Attenborough. They are so inspiring and have done such incredible work for the environment.
8) What has been your favorite experience so far?
My last cleanup with Plastic Oceans Canada! We had over 30 participants show up and help us pick up litter around the Ottawa Canal. This is the biggest turnout we’ve ever had, and many students talked to me afterwards to see how they could get more involved. I was really moved and I’m excited to keep planning more events and hopefully get even more students involved on campus.
9) What future events or initiatives do you have planned?
Next semester, I am hoping to plan a Green Opportunities Fair. So many job fairs nowadays disregard any jobs related to the environment. I think it would be a great way to get more people involved and interested in pursuing green jobs, since this is something so important for us and our planet. I am also planning other smaller events, such as a plant-based cook-along, DIY zero-waste workshop, and maybe even another cleanup with Plastic Oceans Canada!
10) Do you have any recommendations for people wanting to make a difference in their communities?
Do some research and don’t be scared to reach out to various organizations! There are so many amazing groups fighting for the environment and searching for more people to help them. On top of that, you can continue to educate yourself and make changes to your lifestyle. This can include becoming more plant-based, seeing how you can reduce the waste you are producing and transition to a low-waste life, and spreading the word to your friends and family. Together, all our actions will matter!
Thank you Minaëlle for all the amazing hard work you do! Make sure to follow her on Instagram: @minaellegreen