By Sean Meyer
Jordan Hawkswell came to London to study geology and planetary science at Western University, but it didn’t take her long to become far more fascinated by what was happening to the world at a local level.
Jordan grew up in Oakville and spent a lot of time in Toronto and Halifax, communities with strong green bin programs.
When she came to London, a city without such a program, her own impact on the environment became something she couldn’t ignore.
“It kind of hit me quickly how much garbage I was creating without the composting to mitigate it a little,” she said. “I was looking into different things I could do to reduce my waste and stumbled upon the zero-waste movement. I figured I could do that; I’m an environmentalist and this is something important I hadn’t thought of before.”
And so, in early 2016, Jordan launched Zero Waste Forest City and created an Instagram account to help document her journey towards being more aware of the environmental impact she was having on the community.
There is no official definition of what zero-waste means, but Jordan sees it as sending less waste — ideally nothing at all — to landfills.
It doesn’t necessarily mean consuming and producing nothing, it just means using materials and items that fit into a circular economy and can be reused, recycled or composted. Things made of wood, wool or cotton over plastic or metal — things that are really easily recycled.
Plastic, Jordan points out, is easily recycled too, but currently something like 80 percent of plastic used in the world isn’t being recycled, so reducing it is something the movement sees as definitely a good idea.
Zero Waste Forest City started slow, but Jordan got involved with the London Environmental Network, took part in a workshop at Innovation Works that connected her with “a lot of cool, young people in the area,” and from there she started to gain more traction, followers, and people wanting to be involved.
It quickly became more than just an Instagram account.
“Everyone is really open minded. It might be slower to come to fruition here, but the consciousness is there,” Jordan said. “People want to be more environmentally conscious, but it is hard, it is time consuming, so having me there saying this is what you can do, kind of serve it on a plate, makes it easier for more people and really opens up the conversation.”
A lot of things that people can do, Jordan explains, are pretty easy.
The whole point of the zero-waste movement is use what you have, try to thrift or borrow or make something instead of always buying new, single-use items. For example, someone can fairly easily make a reusable grocery bag out of an old T-shirt to help reduce their environmental footprint.
Zero Waste Forest City has grown steadily in a relatively short period of time, but Jordan credits the assistance of the Libro Credit Union social innovation incubator, not to mention the staff and her fellow co-tenants at Innovation Works, for helping take her environmental efforts to the next level.
“The energy at Innovation Works is awesome, the resources are amazing. It really allows for that collaboration you kind of need to have as a starting entity, as someone new to the London environmental sector and social enterprise sector,” she said. “The co-working, the collaboration, has 100 percent helped me get to where I am. People want to collaborate and reach out and be a part of something.”
For more information, visit www.zerowasteforestcity.ca.
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