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This week, we’re featuring Tashi Llamo!
Tashi is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto Scarborough with a Bachelor of Science in International Development Studies. As part of her undergraduate co-op placement, she worked with an NGO in Uganda dedicated to making education accessible and affordable with income generating activities for almost a year; acting as a liaison between the international donors and the stakeholders on the ground. Tashi was also part of the 2018 Students on Ice Arctic Expedition, which was her primary motivation to join our Pristine Blue Initiative! Tashi is interested in climate change-related adaptation strategies with an emphasis on environmental justice and sustainable development. She is keen on advancing ocean literacy and marine conservation efforts embedded within the larger climate change issues and hopes to foster urban community connections to nature through its waters!
PB: How do you consume news? Where do you get information from to stay updated on what’s going on with the environment and the oceans?
Tashi: Until recently, I have been getting most of my news on the environment and marine related issues from my school courses and the newspapers on my long commute to school. With a quick read on the subway, I try to get a better sense of the issues that catch my interest with further web browsing and academic articles if need be. With social media, it has been far easier to come across information related to marine specific environmental issues with its ubiquitous information sharing feature.
With a little digging, there are plenty of great resources online and across the city for learning about local and global marine issues. The organization, Swim Drink Fish, with its Lake Ontario Waterkeeper initiative, monitors the health of our Toronto harbour and has been vital in shedding light on the sewage contamination.
The Toronto Public Library is also great resource as well, featuring a series “Our Fragile Earth”, with programs focusing on different aspects of environmental education. One of its upcoming workshops, “From Macro to Micro: Products and Sources of Microplastics” is a fascinating one that I’ll be attending soon to learn about microplastics and how it enters Lake Ontario from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
I want to reinforce that the Pristine Blue Initiative hope to provide a platform for sharing information and engaging Torontonians on the critical issues facing our waters!
PB: How do you think we can protect our marine environments while also improving our standard of living?
Tashi: The state of our marine ecosystems and its biodiversity is closely intertwined with our socio-economic systems, not to mention our own wellbeing from our connection to nature and its waters. From plastic pollution in oceans, to the threat of ocean acidification with climate change, and underwater seismic testing affecting marine life in our Ontario waterways and ravines, I believe apathy is not an option.
We need to reclaim and emphasize environmental stewardship with focus on marine literacy and education to better understand and protect our marine ecosystems. From the individual level, we can start with sustainable consumption, such as using plastic alternatives in our day to day life, to advocating for meaningful policy changes regarding infrastructure. Industrial and pharmaceutical wastes can create major impact by managing their agricultural runoffs and sewage conscientiously. I think we all have a role to play in sustaining our marine ecosystems.
PB: Describe a recycling tip people may not know about.
Tashi: You can drop off your electronic wastes during events. There's these “inorganic markets” across Toronto, where their aim is recycle them sustainably, instead of shipping them off to landfills. Or better yet visit what’s called the Repair Café, where you can learn to repair items from community members. The basic idea is that instead of throwing away your household items or electronics, you learn to repair it and prolong its usage, thereby avoiding disposing items needlessly. It is a great cost saving strategy reducing wasteful consumption all the while bringing community members together to share their skills and knowledge.