As an eco-friendly promotions company, Botanical PaperWorks has had the chance to connect with so many inspiring businesses and individuals that are making it their mission to have a positive impact on the environment. So much so, that we decided to start a blog series to feature their stories. Stories and inspiration from people like Jenn Forgie, a true green ambassador, who started something called the 30 Days Of Our Earth Project.
Read the full interview below to learn more and get to know Jenn!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve been working with Image Group for 15 years as a promotional products sales account rep. I am also a professional actor and writer and am currently writing a play. In my core, I am both an entrepreneur and an artist with my heart and eyes on how I can bring more service to others and more good to the world. I’m also a dog mom!
What does environmental awareness mean to you?
To me, it means personal responsibility. It has to start with ourselves first. From there we can branch out to bring more education, awareness, community outreach. I have zero interest in focusing on polarizing and finger-pointing when it comes to the overwhelming degree of disrespect and damage we are doing to our earth. We know there are terrible things, we know there are people responsible, we know there is an apathetic tone in the general public towards this crisis and yes, sometimes I want to scream “Wake up!”
What I am interested in focusing on is “what can I do" first. I look honestly: how can I help bring awareness? In my work, with my clients, in my personal life and so on. How can I contribute in any way, however small, each day. This was the impetus behind my 30 Days of Our Earth project – I was overwhelmed by the amount of garbage left by beach-goers (because we know the seagulls and geese aren’t leaving it all there, right?!) on the beach and the answer to, “what can I do” led me to this project. It is empowering to approach environmental awareness with this perspective. I find, because it invites people in – to help, to talk, to see, to maybe even wake up – rather than shut people out through blaming and shaming. And I remain hopeful. I am not alone, there are so many out there doing their good work for our earth and I find so much hope in that. Look at your company, Botanical PaperWorks – the reason I first and foremost suggest your products to my clients is because of the perfection of offering an ethical, sustainable, environmental promotional product that offers something to the earth, rather than takes from it or dumps on it.
What is the 30 Days of Our Earth project?
I do 30 Day social media projects every couple of months. They are by my own initiative because I am a visual storyteller and I’m compelled to create. This particular one is perhaps my most challenging for myself. It should really be called 30 Days of Picking Up Garbage. It is about the garbage left on the beaches that I pick up. I go to the beach every day with my dog and I have committed to posting for 30 days. I clean up garbage off the beach for about ½ an hour, create some written story and photos to go with each post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The challenge is that once you start to see, you cannot not see, so where does it end? I try to just stick to my focus each day.
What inspired you to start the initiative?
I came back from visiting in BC recently and when I walked my dog the next morning at the beach, I was absolutely shocked by the garbage left behind. It brought me to tears and I knew I had to do something. It absolutely broke my heart and yes, I was angry seeing baby diapers, endless bottles, bottle caps, straws, clothing, broken small BBQ’s, hundreds and hundreds of cigarette butts and on and on. Today is Day 17 and I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it past Day 3. I think the biggest hit that I felt was how asleep people must be; not connected to their own selves, to caring about something bigger than themselves. Just... asleep. And that saddened me and softened me at the same time.
I decided very early on that I would offer these posts, with photos and my written words, from a positive energy. I brought in this little warrior type girl Playmobile figure (ironic as it’s made of molded plastic, I know) to be in the photos. In a way, to bring some levity to the topic but also to show the smallness of her against the largeness of the garbage items to support the idea that even one person can make a difference.
I focus on hope and change and doing what we can. Now, there are people following my posts who are taking bags with them on their dog walks! It’s something. Every little bit is something. The bigger problem is how do we Reuse and Reduce the waste altogether.
What is the most found piece of trash you've recovered?
Cigarette butts, straws, bottle caps and beverage containers (glass, plastic, coffee cups, cans). By far these are the most plentiful. Two days ago, in a very small segment of the beach, I picked up 47 beverage containers before I had to force myself to stop. I have to stop after a while, so I can walk my dog and so I can keep my own spirits up.
What piece of advice or encouragement do you have for those who want to make a difference when it comes to our environment?
I would invite people to disengage from blaming and shaming others and ask, “What can I do? How can I lead by my example?” I’m no saint and I can tell you this project is bringing incredible awareness to my own life where I have much room to improve on reducing and reusing etc., but I do heartily believe that we can come together in a spirit of community through first taking action with ourselves. In our work, in our homes, when we travel, etc.
From there I’d love to see people sharing their ideas, opening conversations about solutions and I hope that people come to believe that every act toward protecting and caring for our earth, no matter how small, matters. I love Margaret Mead’s quote: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Awareness and education and change has to start with ourselves. From there we can reach out to one another. I really believe this.
How do you plan to use seed cards for the initiative?
I want to create a simple illustration-based message about cleaning up after oneself after a day on the beach. It needs to be illustration-based because we have such a diverse population of different cultures and languages. I will personally be walking the beach and approaching people, I will offer to take 1 or 2 pieces of their garbage for them in exchange for them taking one of my cards. I hope to engage in conversation with some, and I will do this with a spirit of inviting them to participate. I’ve already started to talk to some people asking them to be sure to pick up their garbage when they leave the beach, and the responses have been friendly and agreeable. With the seed cards, it adds an element of connection – to me, to them, to the earth – that I think is creative and engaging. For change and awareness to happen, I think creativity and engagement are important.