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True North Living » Travel » Ecotourism & Sustainable Travel » Q&A with Elizabeth Teo
Ecotourism & Sustainable Travel

Q&A with Elizabeth Teo

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What initially inspired you to live more sustainably?

I started my platform Zerowastecutie on Instagram in university because I struggled to find ways to keep our environment healthy beyond voting. As a dual US and Canadian citizen, the 2016 US election hit me hard. I felt like all hope was lost and wanted to empower myself and others. I started sharing my zero waste hacks and found out that others resonated with my story. I do believe my love for our environment stemmed from the time I attended the Science and Math Institute, an environmentally focused alternative high school in Tacoma, Washington. Our gym class involved hiking through the forest and learning about native plant species, and we studied marine biology by the ocean. Being immersed in nature during high school was a profound experience that drives my passion for the environment.

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What do you think is the most important piece of advice for young people who want to live/travel more sustainably?

Here are my top tips for traveling more sustainably:

  1. Pack Light: Only bring what you truly need. It reduces your carbon footprint, makes travel easier, and teaches you to appreciate experiences over things.
  2. Eco-friendly Gear: Invest in reusable items like a water bottle, utensils, containers (even reused takeout containers), and shopping bags. They cut down on single-use plastics. Prepare your bag so you’re always ready.
  3. Support Local: Choose local businesses and eco-friendly accommodations. It boosts local economies and often has a smaller environmental impact.
  4. Slow Travel: Take your time! Opt for walking, biking, or public transport instead of flights and cars if possible. It’s better for the planet, and you’ll experience more along the way.
  5. Research: Look into local animal sanctuaries, parks, shelters, and businesses you can support. Check tipping preferences—some places appreciate sanitary items like toothpaste or pads. Help uplift the local economy.

Remember, every small step counts! Together, we can make a big difference.

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What is one thing you think has helped you live more of a “zero waste” lifestyle? (ex, reusable water bottles, reusable bags etc.)

I always take my reusable bottle and container wherever I go! This not only reduces the use of disposable water bottles and takeout containers but also inspires others to take action. At family gatherings, my reusable containers often spark conversations and encourage others, like my aunt, to start using them too. If you’re flying with a reusable water bottle, remember to empty it before going through security. You can refill it at the nearest water station once you’re through.

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Why should Canadians be concerned about sustainability while travelling this summer?

Canadians should be concerned about sustainability while traveling this summer because it’s crucial to minimize the environmental impact of tourism, preserve natural resources for future generations, and respect local communities and cultures. We have many beautiful national parks, such as Banff, Jasper, and Thousand Islands, that need protection so future generations can enjoy and appreciate Canadian wildlife. With millions of visitors each year, it’s important to keep these parks clean and pick up any litter, as animals can mistake it for food and get sick. Treat these parks as if they were your own home!

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