How do you keep your head up when the world is going to sh*t?

Seriously, I’d love to know.

This is not an advice column. This is not a ‘look at me I can do it and so can you’ motivational speech. These are my raw emotions, my feelings, my opinions. This is me searching for hope where it is void.

The world is going to sh**, this is not a drill. It is a few weeks after COVID-19 has been officially declared a global pandemic. Cities all over the world are on lockdown. North America is in a state of emergency. People are freaking out, buying toilet paper like there’s no tomorrow. The economy is seriously suffering. People aren’t going to work and making money, so they aren’t going out and spending money. People can’t pay their rent, landlords can’t pay mortgages and banks can’t stay afloat. Governments’ efforts to curb the rise in cases of COVID-19 after it was declared a global pandemic, is probably the first time in my life I’ve seen any government take any form of appropriate action to anything. They enforced travel and large event bans, closed borders, schools, libraries, arenas, restaurants, stores, just about everything.

As a quick disclaimer, I fully agree and support all the measures that have been taken, and all the money being spent to fight this pandemic and its associated damages. People are dying from it, people are sick and in danger, their lives are at stake. What I don’t understand is that the money is there, and was made readily available so quickly, without question, as soon as a state of emergency was declared. There are so many terrible things going on in the world, (the one I’m going to focus on here is the global environmental crisis) this is not the only thing that warrants a reaction as serious as the one we are experiencing with this pandemic.

It’s been over a year and a half since the IPCC released their special report stating that “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” are needed to avoid catastrophic consequences of climate change. They’ve been saying the same things for over 20 years, and now there is little-to-no time left to make the necessary changes, to take the actions that should have been taken long ago. The risks are only increasing, and the consequences of climate change are only getting more severe with every day that passes where nothing is done, yet no one is doing anything. To add insult to injury, with the current economic downturn, Justin Trudeau is giving the Canadian oil companies a multi-billion-dollar bailout because they can’t make their budget. China is considering relaxing emissions standards to help the automobile industry during these tough economic times. In the US, President Donald Trump just signed a $USD 8.3 billion emergency funding bill to fund various forms of medical intervention for the virus, from vaccine development to finding community health centres for underserved populations.

How come, only now we are seeing governments taking drastic measures and having appropriate responses to a global crisis? Why isn’t anyone doing anything about the environment? Just a couple thousand cases of COVID-19 was enough to get Trump to dish out billions of dollars to fight it, but forty years of serious warnings from scientists, global warming, massive heat waves, erratic and intense hurricanes, widespread forest fires, ravaging floods, sea level rise, air pollution, coral bleaching, and many more telltale signs, get brushed under the rug. Where is the climate emergency? Where is the multi-billion-dollar funding bill for that? Where are the renewable energy subsidies and fossil fuel bans? With all the air travel bans that have been implemented in the past few weeks, we have cut more emissions than through decades of (little) climate action. Why do we choose to care so much about one thing, and none of the others, that are equally, if not more, harmful to us and our planet? Impacts of COVID-19 are expected to rise sharply over time, threatening so many lives of vast numbers of people, especially those most vulnerable. Climate change, too, will severely harm many over time, although much more slowly. If governments and companies can work so quickly to cancel sports seasons, shut down workplaces, and restrict movement, then why can’t they make similarly drastic efforts to change energy consumption and production?

I’m not here to offer you answers or speculations to any of these questions, because this is not a place where I am going to share my opinions. I’m frustrated and disappointed with the state of the world. I’m not complaining about the isolation measures, business closures or travel bans, seriously, being at home and staying in is one of my favorite things. It’s the bigger picture, the state of the world and the lack of action in the interest of the well-being and health of the planet and its residents is what depresses me most, and I don’t use the term “depressed” lightly. The more I think about it, the more enraged I get, the more hopeless the situation feels to me, and the more powerless I feel. I’m at the point where I know I don’t want to live in a world like this, I don’t want to bring more children into such awful place, and I don’t see how I can make it any better. I’ve gone to school for years to get my Master’s degree and do “important” research to try and make a tiny difference in my own way, but I’ve just turned into another scientist that no one listens to. I drastically reduce my waste production and carbon footprint, but there are still people flying around the world in private jets and there’s nearly more plastic in the ocean than fish. I protest and fight for what I want, for a better world, but nothing seems to change. I can’t find the light at the end of the tunnel, there is only darkness, grim hopelessness.

Some people say that times of crisis can lead to opportunities for social change, but I don’t buy it. I mean, it totally can, but I don’t see that happening here, I have totally lost faith in humanity, especially those we have chosen to lead us. This pandemic should be forcing us to think about the better future we want to build, but it seems as though leaders doing anything they can to keep everything functioning as usual and trying to save the economy (and their keep their profits) at the expense of people’s lives. Keeping businesses closed around the world on the advice of scientists and health professionals will do economic damage, but so will bringing people back to work, prolonging the outbreak, straining the hospital system and adding to the death count from the virus, which all that America’s richest business people are interested in doing right now.

There are ways to transform the economy, so that it is not so susceptible to such a downturn, and that keeping afloat during a crisis wouldn’t be as environmentally damaging. The time to act and transform the economy is now (*was actually decades ago*). If the bailout money was used, not to save the companies doing the most damage to the planet, and instead was used to create energy efficient infrastructure and jobs, then we could see the economy and the planet is much better state at the next inevitable downturn. If we acknowledge the value of natural resources and conservation of nature, we could build resiliency in the economy and preserve that of the Earth.

I think that diverting urgently needed public funds to subsidize a dying an environmentally-damaging industry during a pandemic is completely unconscionable, as is ignoring important science for decades, and leaving people to suffer from climate change impacts, poverty, and starvation while they are sitting on billions of dollars that could easily be used for important changes to help those in need. People are suffering and dying from these issues too, and it saddens me to see people being left behind and people profiting and benefiting from this.

Who are we if we don’t help each other? Yes, we have all come together to fight this pandemic the best we can, but why only this and why only now and what does this say about humanity? We have the power and capacity to come together and do the right things. We are seeing now that governments can act, and people can change their behavior, in a very short amount of time.  It’s possible for mobilization of a large amount of money and resources to take place in a short amount of time. This is what environmental scientist and activists have been urging governments to do for so long now, and it makes me so angry to see them doing this now, for this crisis, knowing very well that they could have been doing this all along.

However, it seems as though greed and materialism have pervaded society to the point where we are unable to draw happiness and meaning from anything beyond monetary wealth and physical assets. We put our faith in people who are stuck in this materialistic way of life, and are purposely blind to the issues of lower classes, marginalized and vulnerable people. With all this, it makes sense that governments would act quickly and intensely to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, an issue that greatly threatens the economy in its current state but would remain ignorant the global environmental crisis, one where action will only decrease their personal profits (in the short run only, but that’s all anyone seems to care about).  This is what happens when you think with your head and not your heart. If they really cared about the human race and the health of the planet, then these would not be prevalent issues today, and it’s possible this pandemic wouldn’t even have happened. Why would anyone want to be in a world like this, where things are so chaotic, everything is collapsing, and the world is on fire?

I can hardly breathe just thinking about it and I am at a loss when thinking about where to go from here, and I am terrified to be sentenced to a life where I have to sit on the sidelines and watch this play out. I am tired and have no will to fight. The more I think about it, the less hope I can summon, and the more I am inclined to give up. How do we get through this? How do we find the silver lining, in this dark, heartless world? Someone please tell me.

Building an Economy for the Ecozoic

I have recently published a peer-reviewed paper in the Waterloo Journal for Environmental Studies:

Building an Economy for the Ecozoic

The Ecozoic transition, a term coined by Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, is defined as a transition from “an anthropocentric to a biocentric norm of progress. If there is to be any true progress, then the entire life community must progress. Any progress of the human at the expense of the larger life community must ultimately lead to a diminishment of the human life itself” (Berry, 1988). Currently, in the Anthropocene, the dominant economy is based on extraction, exploitation, violence and infinite growth through the emphasis of individualism, consumerism, linear thinking, commodification, privatization, and human exceptionalism. This neo-classical economy is dangerously disrupting Earth system functioning, and thus, threatens human life on Earth. Transitioning from the Anthropocene to the Ecozoic is both urgent and necessary for the survival and flourishing of the human race through mutually enhancing relationships between human and non-human life on Earth.

This means that we must transition to an economy that builds toward respecting and preserving life as opposed to getting rich; an economy that does not depict infinite growth on a finite planet; an economy that does not exploit earth’s resources, but recognizes their value to human life as well as the importance in conserving the quality and functioning of the ecosystems that provide these resources.

To read the full paper visit:

Waterloo Journal of Environmental Studies


Open access on ResearchGate

Zero Waste with Guest Star Paige McNeely – Podcast #6

Today we talk about going Zero Waste, the Montreal plastic bag “ban” and various CSAs in the region with our guest Paige McNeely.

Zero waste update (March)

This update is quite late and I’m sorry about this, but March and April were really hectic months, mainly because of a combination of the intense solar storm(s), time change, and end-of-term school work pileup all hitting at one time. Nonetheless, my war-on-plastic has progressed rather successfully through this time. This post will cover the month of March, where the goal was to eliminate all waste associated with soap and shampoo/conditioner. If you’re just tuning in on my zero waste journey, I am taking the whole year of 2018 to transition to a zero-waste lifestyle, and each month is dedicated to eliminating a different type/source of waste from my lifestyle. Each month is outlined in this post.

As I progress further through my zero waste journey, it seems to only be getting easier. It’s an exciting feeling every time I know that my actions have successfully diverted waste from a landfill. March was the month to eliminate waste from shampoo and soap, which went remarkably well. I am very sorry this post is super late, but here I will share with you how I replaced soap and shampoo/conditioner in my life to make them zero waste.

A while back in February, I attended a workshop at school on how to make homemade soap and it was quite enlightening. It was a lot of fun and I learned so much. The recipe we used can be found at the end of this post.

In terms of homemade soap being in the cards for my zero waste quest, I don’t think it is feasible or is the best option necessarily. This is mainly because many of those ingredients need to be purchased in packaging. Distilled water usually comes in plastic containers, some of the oils can be purchased in bulk, but the others, I have yet to find them not in packaging. The safety equipment we used was all disposable, which I was not happy about considering that reusable options are very easily available. I also have no idea how lye is packaged normally, or where to get it alternatively. Lastly, parchment paper isn’t easily reused or easily recycled once it has been used. Therefore, I mainly chalk this up to a great learning experience, but not something that I would likely be doing again.

In terms of what is feasible for me in my zero waste quest that makes way more sense in terms of reducing waste would be to purchase bars of soap that do not come in any packaging (sounds super simple wow). I have seen these around in several stores, such as Bulk Barn, some natural food stores and places like Lush. We still have so many bars of soap that we haven’t used yet that people have given us (we haven’t had to buy soap for almost two years now) because I guess we smell or something. We will use those first before buying any new soap bars, but this is the plan for when we do. This way there is even less consumer waste than homemade soap.

Purchasing liquid soap is essentially off the table because it is always in plastic packaging. I have found some waste-free alternatives to liquid dish soap and hand soap that I find useful. The one I prefer is located here and it is super simple to make. I find that if you use a bar of castile soap then this is good to use as dish soap, and if you use a hand soap bar, then it is good to use as liquid hand soap.

Replacing dishwasher soap is something that took the entire month to master, because I had to try various proportions of ingredients to get the right one that wouldn’t leave gross baking soda residue on the dishes. Finally, the proportions that make my dishes perfectly clean and shiny are:

  • 1 part borax (a natural salt that comes in a cardboard box)
  • 1/2 part baking soda (comes in bulk)
  • 1/4 part table salt (comes in bulk)
  • White vinegar in the rinse section and a splash at the bottom the of the dishwasher (trying to find a non-plastic packaging alternative to this, but so far I’m just accepting it)

It is important to mix the three powders together really well because it’s hard to distinguish them when they are all in a container together and if they are fully mixed.  to Then I put about 1.5 tbsp of  in the soap dispenser, because where I live, we have soft water, but for places with hard water, then it seems like 2 tbsp would be needed.


For shampoo and conditioner, these were easy to replace, since shampoo and conditioner bars are widely used for camping and travelling. Shampoo and conditioner bars are also really easy to find with no packaging. So far, I got mine at Lush, and they don’t seem to be too expensive in terms of the amount of use that you can get out of them. There are probably slightly cheaper options available, but not necessarily without packaging, and not that I have come across yet.

As for some great events that happened this month that are contributing to the global war-on plastic, many places around the world have moved forward to potentially ban single-use plastic straws and some other things. The places that I have seen articles about are Scotland, McDonald’s in the UK, and some places in Montreal (hometown pride). To support this, I have also stopped using plastic straws and invested in some metal straws.

In sadder news, I have shed many tears over the whales that have died recently due to being completely full of plastic.

Homemade Soap recipe:


  • 18.5oz olive oil
  • 12 oz coconut oil
  • 9 oz sustainably sourced palm oil
  • 1 oz shea butter
  • 5.8 oz lye
  • 13.5 oz Distilled water
  • essential oils

What we did to make the soap was weigh out all the oils and the shea butter on a scale, combine them in a saucepan and melted them together. While the oil mixture was cooling to room temperature, the lye was measured out and dissolved in the water (in the fume hood, while wearing gloves, safety glasses, and a face mask). It is also super important that the lye is poured into the water and not the other way around. As the lye dissolved, an exothermic reaction happened, which caused it to heat up. Once all the lye was all dissolved, then this mixture was cool to room temperature as well. Once both mixtures reached room temperature, the lye mixture was poured into the oil mixture and the two were blended together using a hand blender until the mixture became light and smooth. Once this is done additional ingredients can be added, for example, we added 10mL of lavender essential oils, but any essential oil can be added. Additionally, things like poppy seeds, oatmeal or coffee grounds can also be added as exfoliants if desired. Then the mixture was poured into a soap mold (like a loaf pan) that was covered in parchment paper and left to solidify for 24h. Then the solidified soap was cut into bars and and left to ‘cure’ for 3 weeks. This was just to ensure that the excess water was all evaporated before using it, otherwise, the soap would dissolve more easily when being used.