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I live by a short and sweet life philosophy: put people and the environment at the heart of everything you do. I am a passion-driven individual on a journey to live, lead, and breathe a sustainable lifestyle. Throughout this ongoing cycle of learning, acting, and educating, I hope to spark changes within myself and the communities around me. Born and raised in Toronto, I am particularly passionate about urban ecology, intersectional environmentalism, and redefining the stereotypical ‘city consumer’ lifestyle. As a retired arts student, my other interests include fashion, music, and writing! 

What is your personal definition of sustainability?

Sustainability is more than a tag on a shirt or a label on a can telling us how something is made. I believe it encompasses a lifestyle change that reflects a person’s commitment to the environment. Even within this role, sustainability must go beyond simply reducing harm. Its discussion is often limited to how individuals, businesses, and governments can implement less-damaging practices. However, in order to truly protect the environment and extend its life trajectory, we must serve a greater duty to create a net positive change – we must discover ways to become producers of energy, rather than strictly consumers. 

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

As a city person through-and-through, my goal is to prove that the urban lifestyle can be compatible with an eco-conscious mission. On a larger scale, I want to show that corporate industries do not have to trade-off environmental considerations in order to be profitable.  

My career aspirations are strongly rooted in social impact, with a particular interest in environmental sustainability. This summer, I will be working in impact investing to provide social financing for purpose-driven organizations. I hope to use the skills and insights that I gain from the impact sector to help bridge traditional industries with the world of sustainability. I believe that a successful call to action requires environmental advocates to be present on both sides of the ‘social transaction’, meaning there must be leaders in corporate industries that possess an eco-driven vision and a willingness to answer – this is the role I hope to serve as I work to drive social purpose into the traditional business landscape. 

Post-graduation, I plan on attaining a degree in environmental law to further educate myself on the nuances of this topic. The tools that I gain will allow me to better advocate for environmental recognition and consideration in corporate industries. 

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in? 

While I haven’t been involved in many sustainability-focused projects, I have always been passionate about supporting my communities. However, the more I immerse myself in the world of social impact, the more I realize that protecting people goes hand-in-hand with protecting the environment. 

Growing up, I have been involved in several habitat preservation workshops and tree-planting initiatives for local conservations. It was only after working intimately in nature itself alongside other eco-conscious individuals did I begin to think introspectively about my own impact on the Earth. In my journey to learn more about environmentalism, I hope to use my experiences in social impact to tackle sustainability through different social lenses. Over the past few years, I have taken on roles in various organizations to promote gender equality, multiculturalism, anti-racism, and philanthropy. Reflecting on these experiences, I want to explore the different facets of intersectional environmentalism by inviting gender, race, social class, and culture into the conversation. 

Recently, I have partnered with students from around Canada to create social media content designed to educate and promote topics related to sustainability. Going forward, I am excited to dive head-first into the world of sustainability, expanding my portfolio with new passion projects. 

Zoe Sun

Zoe Sun