Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Ren Vandergriendt grew up in an urban centre far from the ocean, with little experience seeing marine life, but plenty of experience seeing pollution and litter. Yet at age 12, she was fortunate enough to earn her first SCUBA certification and see the beautiful Mesoamerican Barrier Reef in Honduras. Her first dive was life-changing; not only because she fell in love with marine biology, but among the swirling colours of tropical fish she spotted a small plastic wrapper, which she almost mistook for a jellyfish. Drifting through the pristine corals, she witnessed firsthand this simple human impact on a fragile ecosystem. She dedicated herself to a new goal.
Fast forward to a decade later, where she is now entering her fourth year at Dalhousie University with a major in marine biology and a minor in Spanish language studies. Whether she’s studying intertidal ecology in Nova Scotia or cleaning up beaches near Hamilton Harbour, she strives continuously for healthier waters across Canada. Her research this summer with the Circular Economy Ambassador Program is in the hopes of inspiring more young people to take the fight against climate change into their own hands. Her job at Mind Your Plastic assures her that the work she does CAN make a difference.