The Strand sat down with Michal Leckie, candidate for Sustainability Commissioner in the 2017 VUSAC fall election, to talk about her campaign and her experience with sustainability at Victoria College.
The Strand: What does sustainability mean to you?
Michal Leckie: I think sustainability means limiting our impact on the environment, and making our presence here not detrimental to our home. Sustainable actions would be ones that decrease the harm that we’re causing.
Why are you the ideal candidate for Sustainability Commissioner?
I think what’s really important is just that [all the candidates] are present, and we all have great qualities, and I think that the more people who are like that on the commission the better. So I think whoever is leading the commission is less important than who is on it.
But the leader does have some impact, and I think that I would be a good leader because I was on the commission last year, so I have a lot of experience with how the commission and Vic works, and how you can make change here. I know of the sort of things we’ve done in the past, and what we’ve tried to change, specifically what worked and what didn’t work. So I think I’m ready this year to use what I learned last year to continue things that worked great, but also change things that didn’t, and to add news things to it.
Beyond [the sustainability commission], I’ve also been very involved in the past with environmental groups, in high school and outside of school. I went to the Arctic with a group called “Students on Ice;” you go to the Arctic and learn about the natural environment, the cultures, and the effects of climate change on the northern communities, which was really beneficial.
What is one thing that the sustainability commission has done in the past that you would like to see continue?
One event we did last year was “Life Hacks.” We had a whole bunch of different stations where you learn about a sustainable practice; something you can do that makes your life a bit more sustainable. One was how to make vegan foods, another was making your own toothpaste, and another was learning how to recycle—it was like a game. I would like to do that again, and expand it a bit and add some more things. Also, we only did it once in the second semester so I would like to do it in the first and second semester with different components.
What is the biggest thing you think needs to be changed about how Vic approaches sustainability?
I think that there are a lot of concrete actions that need to be done, like composting, which I am really trying to push for this year—to get composting in residences. But beyond that, I think that we need to encourage students to feel connected to their environment and not so separate.
Living in walls every day, it’s easy to forget that there’s an environment out there. I think that when we feel connected to our environment, that’s when we feel like we need to protect it and motivated to do actions to protect it. So I think that what Vic needs to do this year is foster that love for the environment, and hold events that bridge that gap that we so often see between ourselves and our natural environment.
Can you elaborate on the “No New Things” initiative mentioned in your campaign statement?
We haven’t done it before. A few years ago we did this thing—energy wars in the residence, water wars—it was a period of time where the residences were in competition trying to save water. It was one period of time focusing on one specific action, so I wanted to expand on that and do a few more of those things.
One of them would be “No New Things,” where people pledge for a month not to purchase any new things, to work on using what you have and really considering when you buy stuff [whether] you need it.
Why did you decide to run for Sustainability Commissioner now and not in the spring?
Last year, I was in first year and there were many upper years on the commission. Towards the end of the year we didn’t talk about this election process and I neglected to learn about it. I was always planning on being involved in the commission this year, but I assumed that the commissioner was a role for an upper year. So I didn’t apply, and then after the elections we realized no one did. So then I did talk to the commissioner last year, about all sorts of different options, and the easiest thing to do is to run now. I wish I had run in the spring.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photo | Courtesy of the candidate