Mind Your Plastic #LocalHero Jeanine Sinclair
Written by Jacob Maher
Meet #LocalHero Jeanine Sinclair, founder of the Plastic Free BC project!
As an Ocean Wise Ocean Bridge ambassador alumni, she is known to do a TON for our environment and help others reach a more sustainable lifestyle. Her latest project aims to create a hub to discover zero waste and sustainable businesses from various cities around BC.
We asked Jeanine a series of questions to learn more about this amazing project, and what future endeavors are planned as her project grows.
1) Tell us a bit about yourself and what motivated you to start getting involved with the environment.
I am zero-waste enthusiast who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Victoria. As a kid growing up on the west coast, I’ve always loved the ocean and finding little critters hiding in the rocky intertidal. One day in high school, I saw a poster for a volunteer position at the Vancouver Aquarium. I applied, got the position and never looked back. After that, I was absolutely set on becoming a marine biologist. During my time in university, I learned so much about those little intertidal critters and the ecosystems that I cared so deeply about, but at the same time I was learning how humanity was slowly destroying it all. So, after graduating, I was determined to make a positive impact and teach others how they can do the same. Plastic pollution was something that I had always known about, and one thing I could actively reduce in my own life. So I decided I was going to actively start fighting it, and here we are!
2) How did you first get involved with Ocean Wise and why is it so important?
I got involved with Ocean Wise when I applied to become an Ocean Bridge Ambassador in May 2021. Since then, I’ve been creating my own personal project, Plastic Free BC, as my volunteer work. Ocean Wise is extremely important to me, as it has allowed me the opportunity to be a leader, get creative with my conservation work and explore different possibilities to make a difference.
3) Can you tell us how your studies in marine biology has impacted your day to day?
My studies in marine biology opened my eyes to the complexity, beauty and fragility of our natural world. I have a curiosity and understanding for biological systems that also makes me care very deeply for it all. So it’s devastating to watch the news as we harvest, bulldoze and build infrastructure on these precious places. My marine biology studies allow me to see how beautiful this world is, and motivate me every day to protect it.
4) What actions do you take to help the environment and why are they so important
Although controversial, I believe all the little things matter! So, I do simple things in my every-day life. For starters, I eat a plant-based diet due to the immensely negative impacts the meat industry has on the environment. I have reduced my unnecessary single-use plastic intake, by refusing the things I don’t need. Instead of accepting single-use mugs, bags, containers and cutlery when I go out, I bring reusable version with me. I try my best to refuse what I don’t need, use what I already have, repurpose, upcycle, and as a last resort – recycle. I also try to support small, local sustainable businesses in my community wherever I can. That’s why I created Plastic Free BC, to connect people to low-waste businesses in their community. The last and arguably the most important thing I do, is aim to teach people why I do these things, and show them that they can do it too. By showing people that there IS an alternative to our take-make-waste system, I’m hoping enough people care and that change can happen. Change will have to be made from the top-down, aka Government and industry changes. But it will never happen unless people care and demand that change to happen. That’s why I, personally, am fighting from the ground-up.
5) What challenges or obstacles do you face when you take action?
My biggest challenge is ensuring my sustainable tips are accessible to all. The last thing I want to do is gate-keep the sustainable movement by only promoting expensive, organic, exclusive products. Although plastic has quickly become the cheap and convenient option, I want to show people that they do have a choice and that living sustainably can be achievable, possible and inexpensive.
6) How do you keep yourself motivated?
I stay motivated because I have a fantastic, supportive community of like-minded people around me. Through social media and the Ocean Bridge Ambassador group with Ocean Wise, I have found incredible individuals who are also living sustainably and raising awareness on the issue. Knowing that I am not fighting this fight alone and that we are all in it together, pushes me to keep going.
7) Who inspires you in terms of activism and making a difference in the environment?
Many people, but most recently I’ve been really inspired by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. She is a marine biologist, policy expert and writer who was also the co-host on the podcast “How to Save a Planet”. My absolute favorite podcast and I could not recommend it enough! She has the most thoughtful and inspirational insight into the climate crisis, and with her policy expertise she gives a new perspective that I had never thought of previously.
8) What has been your favorite experience so far?
Meeting all the wonderful people from my Ocean Bridge Ambassador group! Everyone is so eager to take action and work together, it feels great to be a part of it all. I also love that I’ve gotten to connect with many low-waste small business owners around Vancouver. It has been such a pleasure to slowly get to know them, and have the opportunity to promote them with my Instagram and website.
9) What future events or initiatives do you have planned?
So many! I’m in the middle of launching my first website, PlasticFreeBC.com, which will be a place to discover zero waste and sustainable businesses from various cities around BC. I was spearheading a group event for our Ocean Bridge group, which was going to be a Zero Waste Market in Vancouver but that has been cancelled due to Covid.
10) Do you have any recommendations for people wanting to make a difference in their communities?
Act local, think global! Even the smallest changes can make a huge difference if we all do them together. If you start by making small changes in your every-day life to live more sustainably, you may start to see how our current system is not set up to be sustainable. Take it a step further, and vote for people who are supporting green initiatives. Write or call your local representative and ask for changes to your city or community. Don’t rush yourself to do it all at once. Change is slow and starts small, but all of it counts and is all important.
Thank you Jeanine for all the amazing hard work you do! Make sure to follow her on Instagram: @plasticfree.bc