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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Abby Litchfield

 

After studying Environmental Geography at Western, I came to Ivey to acquire the tools and business acumen I felt I’d need to make a difference in the area I’m passionate about: sustainability. For me, this passion was ignited in high school, during a semester-long experiential learning program called the Community Environmental Leadership Program. This program awakened my desire to work collaboratively to solve the world’s most pressing problems. Since then, my journey has centered around finding opportunities to create change for the better, with a few camping trips, musical performances, and great friendships to keep me smiling on the way. 

 

What is your personal definition of sustainability?

To me, sustainability is a lens through which to see the world. It’s about understanding that actions today have impacts tomorrow, and considering where those consequences are felt most. It’s then about being motivated by this understanding to make decisions that will lead to a positive impact. Currently, this way of thinking feels most vital in the context of preserving the natural world and mitigating the harms that will come from its continued destruction. However, I believe the same frame of mind can (and should) be applied to decisions of any size or context – from individual conversations to career choices.

 

What role do you see sustainability playing in your professional career?

I hope that sustainability will be at the centre of my professional career. While I’ve felt passionately about protecting the environment for as long as I can remember, I now see sustainability playing an increasingly important role in business. It is finally becoming unacceptable for firms to ignore their impact, and I want to be a part of that change. I also think business will play an important role in enabling the behavioural and ideological shifts necessary on an individual scale.  With their daily barrage of ads, products, and recognition in the news, corporations have many opportunities to influence the “everyday consumer”. This power for change must be harnessed, and I want to pursue this opportunity throughout my career. So far, my expectations for how to achieve this are relatively broad. While I’m willing to be flexible in terms of my role, and dive into the space from whichever angle I can initially, it is important to me that the early steps I take lead me on a path toward making a tangible impact. Ideally, I’d like start by learning from an ecosystem of various social enterprises that use innovation to take on sustainability from the core of their operations.

 

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?

Growing up in Guelph, I was fortunate to be surrounded by a community that valued sustainability and provided many opportunities to get involved. My semesters spent out of the traditional high school environment in the Community Environmental Leadership Program connected me with a network of like-minded friends to volunteer with in the years to come. We went tree planting around the city, volunteered annually at Hillside Music Festival in Waste Management to reduce its footprint, and canvassed for Mike Schreiner’s Green Party to support Ontario’s first election of a Green MPP in 2018.

At Western, I got involved with EnviroWestern, the Geography Peoples’ Society, Charity Orientation Sophs, and most recently, the Ivey Social Impact Club. I loved working with SIC to put together “Crossroads”, this year’s annual Social Impact conference, because it is always so rewarding and exhilarating to feel the energy that fills a room of like-minded people sharing their passion and ideas. Currently, I’m excited to be working on an Impact Consulting Project to support Walpole Island Natural Heritage Program in building a greenhouse to support both the endangered species in their ecosystem, and the people in their community.

Abby Litchfield

Abby Litchfield