Up Close with Cathy


Next up, we’re introducing Cathy Xu!

Cathy is currently studying in the Doctorate of Pharmacy program at the University of Toronto. In her undergraduate career, she studied chemical biology at McMaster University, which she attests to her developing a deep respect and passion for the natural sciences. While working in the Antimicrobial Stewardship, she noticed that reducing overconsumption and promoting sustainability were recurrent themes. Cathy has experience in mentorship, teaching, tutoring, and counselling, which she believes allowed her to gain insights in systemic approaches to behavioral changes. Further, as a visual artist, she says that she paints her dreams — “dreams about sustainability and the outcry of nature”. Profoundly, her calling to become a responsible steward of the Earth is founded on her reverence of its Creator!

PB: How do you consume news?

Cathy: I am guilty of reading what is “fed” to me - from social media feeds. It’s a positive feedback loop and I am more exposed to news that I already take interest in. I try to be critical about the source of information and objectivity. I try to block out “fast-food” type of news outlets from my newsfeed. Some topics of interests for me are: air pollution and associated health concerns, deforestation, and permaculture, but I know I have so much more to learn before I can form my opinions on these issues.

PB: How do you think we can protect our marine environments while also improving our standard of living?

Cathy: Resist consumerism. I buy with a mindset that I am poorer than I feel, because we are all borrowing resources from our future. I ask myself: am I buying for utility, or for enjoyment, or vain? Take some time to give some second thoughts. I also try to buy items that are more durable, so that I create less waste. Fun fact, a sizable portion of my wardrobe consists hand-me-downs from my aunt and my mother, and I still wear shirts from 2005! We tend to have this irrational satisfaction from spending, but with some awareness, we should take joy in all the things at we choose not to purchase. Ultimately less consumption means less demand for resources, and less waste.

PB: How do you feel about drinking bottled water?

Cathy: I Hate it with a burning passion. I try to talk to people who think bottled water is superior than tap water. I try to refill my water bottles but sometimes I still need to buy bottled water for a prolonged trip (and I’ll hate myself for it). I am very proud that, on a week-long road trip across the hot and dry summer in California, my friend and I did not use a single disposable bottle!

The most single-use plastic wastes I produced are probably from event catering. The bottled water and utensils are already produced, bought, and would either be consumed or wasted. As an individual participant I feel responsible, yet somewhat helpless to make any change. However I do understand that the change must be on the systemic level. I dream of a social norm where bottled water isn’t overly and unnecessarily accessible, and where it should be common standard to bring your own bottle wherever you go.

Cathy at Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, summer 2015 was taken aback by the majesty of the ocean! A deep blue roaring from afar!

Cathy at Salvation Mountain in California as part of her week-long road trip in summer 2018!


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