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Up Close with Frank


We hope you’re liking the mini-series so far! Let’s welcome our next team member, Frank Guo!

In 2017, Frank finished his four-year degree in geography and city studies, with a minor in GIS from UTSC. As a student, some of his fondest memories were serving as secretary and executive for the Geography and City Studies Student Association for two years, participating in an international city-building workshop in Tokyo, Japan, working as a mapping assistant for the East Scarborough Storefront, and doing extensive research in the fields of qualitative geographical methods, environmental assessment and urban design. Frank is currently taking time off outside of academia, to rekindle some of his personal interests while establishing professional experience in the working world. He considers himself a jack-of-all-trades and embraces the values that come with being a millenial. Frank hopes that his unique and relatable perspective growing up in Scarborough, instills a moral imperative in others to mitigate the effects of climate change.

PB: How has the world changed since you were a child?

You know, growing up in the early 2000’s, it was easy to maintain a simple, minimalist lifestyle. In elementary school, I remember going on exciting field trips to learn about the outdoors, from short visits to local parks, to a couple days at the beach. I felt that the people I surrounded myself with were more proactive in taking care of the environment and showed respect towards their communities in general.

While I still see behaviours consistent with environmental stewardship in my daily life, I think it’s definitely become more difficult to “go green”. We live in an age where distractions, competitiveness and a culture of scarcity is pervasive. Overpopulation, especially in Toronto, has unfortunately encouraged massive consumption and other environmentally damaging behaviours.

For example, a couple months ago, I went to the lookout point at the Scarborough Bluffs to take some pictures with my friends. There were piles of trash everywhere and I even overheard some people saying things like “Just leave it, there’s people who will eventually clean it up”. It was ironic that people my age placed higher priority on risking their lives to take daring photos for social media instead of cleaning up after themselves. With that said, people continue to fail to acknowledge the historical importance of places like the Bluffs, so we definitely need to adopt and better manage our worldviews to increase awareness of our


Frank took this picture in September 2018 while visiting the Scarborough Bluffs. This is a common vantage point for people to take dramatic photos of themselves for social media. Unfortunately, the ground here is susceptible to erosion and Frank had mixed opinions while risking a picture here.

PB: Describe one obstacle you’ve encountered while striving to be environmentally conscious. Do you believe it’s worth the effort?

Let me start off by saying that in certain situations, I understand why people aren’t motivated in conserving resources, keeping up with actions such as recycling or using less fuel to heat their homes. I don’t want to speak for other people but based on my observations, it’s very hard for us to compromise certain individual lifestyle choices. Therefore, one obstacle I find while being environmentally conscious is a general lack of apathy.

Overall, it’s convenient to pander towards and accept the perception that we’re not really doing much so why bother. I’m guilty of that as well and I can be very inconsistent in my behaviours. We’re reluctant to change not because we think it’s unimportant, but because of an overbearing cloud of fatigue hanging over us.

Therefore, I think we really need to normalize the small acts and get across the idea that being environmentally conscious does not have to be tiresome or inconvenient. It’s definitely worth the effort. For example, we can engage in picking up after ourselves when we generate waste and not being afraid to go the extra distance to carry our trash around until we can dispose of it appropriately. It’s worth it, especially as youth, to continue justifying our actions, and giving ourselves permission to face skepticism and hypocrisy to amplify our viewpoints.

Further, I also think that living in Toronto, and in pretty much any big city for an extended period of time, means that our interactions with nature are limited. Of course, we are lucky enough to have Lake Ontario and some access to great green space. But rather than casting it away as this sort of space where we can engage in destructive behaviours outside our daily lives, we need to see ourselves living with nature and respecting it.

PB: What are some ways we can save water?

Frank: There’s plenty of ways to save water! During a rainstorm, you can divert your water pipes towards a bucket or your backyard to save for future use, so that it doesn’t contribute to dirty runoff overloading the sewage system which would otherwise end up polluting our lakes and rivers.

Also when you turn on the hot water tap at home, instead of waiting for the cold water to go down the drain as you wait for it to heat up, collect the cold water in a bucket and use it to water your plants.

Finally, as someone who loves to travel, I highly suggest carrying your own water bottle and refilling it on the road instead of relying on plastic water bottles. If tap water is not safe to drink, use a filter or boil a predetermined quantity from the get-go and refrigerate it for later use.

Frank enjoying the shores of Lake Huron at Pinery Provincial Park as part of the UTSC GCSA camping trip in September 2016.


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