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Knowing Kate

By Rachael Grant

I figured out that the passion and righteous anger that I felt all through childhood, middle school and high school was feminism pretty early on in life. Most of my experiences since taking ownership of the title “feminist” have only fueled my fervour and dedication to the cause, and I’ve taken steps so that my actions reflect my morals.  I’ve learned about intersectionality and inclusivity, and devote most of my waking hours to advancing women’s equality and protecting and assisting survivors of sexual violence.  It is a cause that will drive me for my entire life and I believed for a time that it would be a singular, tunnel-vision cause for me. And then I met Kate, the founder of Our Positive Planet.

Kate taught me not through lectures and condescension (I was pretty ignorant) but through a subtler and far more impactful method: her actions. It was little moments like stopping on a walk to pick up trash and asking her server to not add a straw to her water at a restaurant. It was big moments like organizing cleanups and challenging herself to live a zero-waste life. She pointed out waste in areas that I was truly unaware of and I slowly learned through osmosis that leaving less of a foot-print through tiny changes was not just possible but easy. Kate never asked me to build an off-grid house or yurt. She actually never asked me to do anything. But as I discovered when I talk to people about feminism, a person’s passion is infectious. Without pushing any agenda whatsoever, she opened my eyes to parts of my life that were ridiculous and unnecessary.

For those who feel that a single person cannot have a significant impact on the environment, or that grass-roots movements don’t move the needle, I wanted to reassure you that this is simply not true. Kate is doing amazing work through Our Positive Planet, spreading awareness and educating people on environmental issues, but on top of that I wanted to provide a literal list of changes I’ve made simply from conversations with my friend.

  1. I use a refillable mug when I go to Tim Hortons.
    • I was a person getting one to two large teas from Tims every single day. Since I switched to my refillable mug two years ago, I’ve saved approximately 1200 cups.
  1. I use a Diva Cup now.
    • First off, this sucker is just way better in general, with the added benefit of being eco-friendly.
    • In the last 20 months I’ve saved about 200 tampons’ worth of waste
  1. I refuse plastic bags at stores (except when I forget to bring reusable bags to the grocery store, I’m a work in progress!)
    • I’m still learning with this one, because it’s creating a new habit, but what is the point of a full plastic bag for a prescription from the drug store? It’s so easy to just say “no, thanks”.
    • I couldn’t count all the bags I haven’t used, but I do know I have room for improvement
    • A friend of mine keeps a steel straw in her purse because she loves the environment but loves straws and she found a solution for herself. I truly do not care about straws, therefore I do not feel the loss.
    • As a person who does a meal out every week or so, we’re talking about upwards of 50-100 straws in the last year or so.
  1. Plastic cutlery can eff off
    • Like my straw-savvy friend, it just takes a bit of planning to make sure you’ve got metal utensils on hand. If you’re picking food up and bringing it back to your office, just keep a set there. So easy.
    • I can’t possibly say how many spoons and knives and forks I’ve saved but you could probably fill a Sobeys bag with them except I don’t have one of those on hand either 😉
  1. I see garbage EVERYWHERE
    • This one is so weird but it’s like Kate gave me a pair of eco-glasses and suddenly I wasn’t blind to coffee cups and food wrappers and cigarette butts.
    • Most of the time you can find a plastic bag literally on the ground to pick up the trash as you’re walking your dog or finding shells on the beach or however you spend your time.

Honestly, I could go on, discuss things like my deep love for mason jars, my refusal to use k-cups, my increased knowledge of what exactly a human can compost and recycle, but I wanted to highlight a few changes to show that Kate just living her life has impacted how I live mine. And I know that my small changes have impacted my husband, and his parents have been impacted by us. It may not seem like much when you consider the millions of pounds of trash in our oceans, but imagine if everyone made my small changes? Big deal. So I want to say thank you to Kate, and thank you to all those eco-warriors who are helping people like me open their eyes and pay attention.

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