Continued from Part 1. In this part, we talk to Emily about how she got started as an activist.
Parvati Magazine: I understand you got active at a very young age to raise funds for a village in Mexico. Can you tell me about that?
Emily Chartrand: When I was nine, my sister and I were told that Santa was on a budget for Christmas. We had many friends we wanted to buy gifts for, so we started thinking creatively about what we could do. We developed “SnowmanPoop”, a chocolate-dipped spoon with marshmallows to accompany hot chocolate. My friends loved it, so we decided to sell SnowmanPoop in stores to make some extra money. It was sold in eight local stores that year.
Through SnowmanPoop we donated over $300 to various charities, including UNICEF and World Vision. We felt empowered making and donating money. For the summer, we created OgopogoPoop (a jelly bean treat named after a mythical monster of Okanagan Lake).
Eventually, OgopogoPoop was sold in thirty stores in the Okanagan and we started making more money than we could ever imagine, so we wanted to do something bigger. In seven years of business we were able to have an impact on people around the world and visit Mexico twice, where we worked with people who live off a garbage dump. We brought 200 lbs of humanitarian supplies and improved families’ homes by purchasing a water tank, septic system, concrete floors and various other projects. We also supported other causes including KIVA, a micro-lending platform.
PMAG: Since you came home from Midway, what have you been doing to get the word out about going plastic-free?
EC: When I returned I knew that I needed to educate as many people as possible about what is happening on Midway. I have spoken to approximately 3500 people, and another 7000 have read my blog. The money I made through my speaking funded a humanitarian trip I took to Africa in the summer of 2011. I also created a learning resource for grade 5 teachers to use that meets the British Columbia Ministry of Education’s prescribed learning outcomes for grade 5 social and science curriculums. I am unable to measure how many children I will/have reached through this resource; however, it is being piloted in classrooms throughout School District 67 this year. It’s my goal to make it available for teacher’s use around British Columbia and ideally across Canada. I am going to continue speaking as I enter university and I hope that I can have an impact on people so they feel compelled to reach out and do something about this issue.
PMAG: What are your plans for university and the next steps you want to take in terms of activism?
EC: Honestly it’s hard to know what to do! I’m not certain what I want to study or what I’d like my career to be. But I’m hoping to attend UBC in the fall of 2012 and enrol in general arts studies or business administration programs. I am most definitely going to stay extremely involved. I will continue to speak as much as I can and hopefully either start or join environmental groups at my school. I am currently a World Youth Ambassador for the Robert Bateman Get to Know Program and I will continue to be a part of that.
PMAG: For other young people reading this, what is your advice on how to get started doing something to help other people or the environment?
EC: I encourage anyone I talk to to find something that you’re passionate about and follow your heart. If you’re doing what you’re passionate about, then you will be successful!
This is my favourite quote:
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
– Harold Whitman