Editor-in-Chief, The Eco Hub
Mediaplanet recently spoke with Candice Batista, an award-winning Environmental Journalist, the Editor-in-Chief for The Eco Hub, and one of Canada’s leading eco advocates for her thoughts on mindful living.
You have passionately advocated for “mindful living” what does this term mean to you, and how can those who are not well-versed in sustainability apply this principle to “clean up” their lifestyle?
Mindful living can mean many different things to many different people. Right now we see the term used in the self-care space. But for me, in the eco-space it means being connected to the things I buy at a deeper level. Mindfulness is the understanding that everything that I bring into my home has an impact on the natural world, from how it’s extracted, manufactured, used, and ultimately discarded at the end of its life.
The slow food movement is a good example. It’s all about connecting to the food we eat, connecting to the people (farmers) who grow the food, talking to them about how/where the food is grown. Is the food organic? Are the farmers being paid for their work? Are they working in safe conditions? Are they being treated fairly?
The concept of mindful living is applying these types of questions to every facet of your life. Asking yourself, who made my clothes? What kinds of materials were used? What am I going to do with this when I am done with it? It’s being mindful of the full cycle of those items. We live in a consumer-based society and it can be a real challenge to make more mindful or sustainable choices, but if we take a moment to think before we buy, we actually have more power than we think!
If you are just getting started, be patient, this kind of lifestyle takes time and energy, and there is no perfection. It’s work, and you have to find what works for you.
Something which you have specifically highlighted as an area for improvement within the greenspace is inclusivity – in your opinion, what changes need to occur to ensure greater BIPOC representation?
We live in a very connected world. Most of us have access to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok where information is created and shared by all types of people from different backgrounds, all educating and informing us on issues related to social justice, environmental racism, and racial justice. Traditionally, the green living or zero-waste movements have been represented in the mainstream media by mostly white women (and men) and have completely ignored the voices and views of Black, Indigenous, and people of colour as well as marginalized and minority communities.
We don’t have to look far to find instances where people of colour have been impacted by environmental racism here in Canada, for example: an open dump in Africville, landfill sites in Shelburne and Lincolnville, a pulp and paper mill in Pictou Landing First Nation, and a pipeline in Sipekne’katik First Nation. A pipeline also runs through Wet’suwet’en First Nation in British Columbia, while in Ontario there is mercury contamination in Grassy Narrows First Nation.
As a white woman in this space, I acknowledge my place of privilege and how it’s allowed me to profit. I see mostly people that look just like me.
The environmental movement up to now has been focused predominately on conservation which, although important, has left out social justice, and that’s a major problem because it excludes BIPOC representation in the conversation.
We need to see more diversity and we need to hear from people whose experiences in the space are different from our own (the dominant group).
- Diversify your feed on social media, follow BIPOC influencers and creatives, listen and learn from their stories.
- Educate yourself about the lack of diversity in the green space and how it can become more inclusive. Here are some books you may want to read on the matter:
- Engage, Connect, Protect: Empowering Diverse Youth as Environmental Leaders by Angelou Ezeilo.
- Environmental Justice in a Moment of Danger by Julie Sze.
- A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind by Harriet A. Washington.
- Indigenous Environmental Justice edited by Karen Jarratt-Snider and Marianne O. Nielsen.
- Learn from BIPOC in the green space, support them, share their work and show up for them as much as you can.
These are just some examples of how you can help, but it’s by no means a comprehensive list. This is a very large subject and one that cannot be discussed in full without the voices of colour within this field. Collectively, we need to think about how we can make a difference.
Food waste in Canada is higher than any other nation in the world, what role does the Canadian public have in mitigating this issue and what tips do you have for reducing food waste in the home?
The average Canadian wastes 79 kilograms of food at home per year. 61 percent of that food waste happens in households.
Love Food Hate Waste drives this home with a list of how much food we are throwing out every year:
- 1,200,000 tomatoes
- 2,400,000 potatoes
- 750,000 loaves of bread
- 1,225,000 apples
- 555,000 bananas
- 1,000,000 cups of milk
- and 450,000 eggs
There are many reasons why this is happening in my opinion. We are buying way too much of it when we shop, mostly because we are very disconnected from where our food comes from: who grew it, how it was raised, etc.
We are not composting our food scraps, which mostly go to landfills, we are either too lazy or don’t have access to composting at home.
We are not storing it correctly when we get it home. Your fridge and freezer have drawers and shelves for a reason. If you have a fridge where you can control the humidity make sure it’s set right. Set one drawer with higher humidity and the other with lower. High humidity is for veggies that will wilt such as salad, kale, etc. Low humidity is for items that tend to rot like mushrooms.
Some more easy-to-implement strategies include:
- Stop focusing on “best before” dates. These are for the grocer not the consumer and refer to the quality and its peak freshness. Use your judgement.
- Use what you have, find recipes for the foods you have left in your fridge or pantry. A quick search on Pinterest will yield a ton of ideas.
- Put a basket in the fridge that says, “Eat Me First”, this tip comes from a food documentary “Just Eat It”.
- Make a list before you go out to shop and stick to it. But the biggest tip is to preplan your meals and buy what you need for those.