Environmental columnist and author to speak at the U of W

‘Start with what’s easiest for you,’ says Adria Vasil

Adria Vasil, author of Ecoholic David Hawe

If you’re looking for ways to lessen your impact on the environment, start with changes that are simple for you to make.

That’s one of the messages leading environmental columnist and author Adria Vasil will bring to the University of Winnipeg when she speaks on campus Thursday, Feb. 3 as part of The Uniter and Mouseland Press Inc.’s Speaker Series.

“If you start with the hard stuff, you’re probably just going to get fed up,” Vasil said by phone from her home in Toronto last week. “I tell people to start with whatever’s easiest for them.

“For some people, that might mean switching to eco-friendly light bulbs, or dropping out two meat meals a week. ... It might just be carpooling and taking the bus - whatever are the easiest moves for you and the most natural.”

Since 2004, Vasil has written the practical and humour-filled “Ecoholic” advice column for NOW, an alternative news and entertainment magazine in Toronto.

She has covered environmental and social justice issues for NOW’s news section for nearly a decade, and in 2007 she published the book Ecoholic - a “guide to the most environmentally friendly information, products and services in Canada.”

Vasil is wary of greenwashing and recognizes that what will ultimately save the planet is buying less, not buying more green products.

Still, she stresses the impact small changes have.

“If we all (ate) one less red meat meal a week, it would be like if everyone in North America switched from driving a sedan to driving a Prius,” Vasil said. “That’s a big thing.”

We have to get our daily routines in line with our principles, otherwise it doesn’t make sense.

Adria Vasil, environmental columnist and author

Vasil sees making small lifestyle changes as a key component of working toward greater environmental change.

“We can’t stop pushing our politicians on environmental issues,” Vasil said. “(But) we have to get our daily routines in line with our principles, otherwise it doesn’t make sense.”

Every move we make, from the moment we get up in the morning to the moment we go to bed at night, makes a difference to the environment, she noted.

“When we all start tweaking the way we go through our routine ... it absolutely has a broader impact,” Vasil said. “If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t get up every day and put 15 hours a day into researching this stuff, like I am now.”

Drawn to activism in her teens after watching the effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in the media, Vasil has appeared on many TV shows and countless print and radio publications promoting green living.

She has a degree in political science and cultural anthropology from the University of Toronto, and a degree in magazine journalism from Ryerson.

In addition to speaking about how our daily routine affects the environment, Vasil says she will share tips on how to green one’s lifestyle, the pitfalls of consumerism and greenwashing and how people can work to affect change on a level beyond just their personal power.

She’ll also answer any questions people have.

“I am still a green ‘Dear Abby’ by trade - that’s what I do every week in the NOW column,” Vasil said. “So if people have questions, they should definitely bring them.”

See Adria Vasil speak at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 3 in Eckhardt-Gramatte Hall at the University of Winnipeg (515 Portage Ave.). This event is part of Grass Routes: A Sustainability Festival. Visit www.tinyurl.com/UWGrassRoutes. Read Vasil’s work online at www.ecoholic.ca and www.facebook.com/ecoholicnation.

Published in Volume 65, Number 18 of The Uniter (February 3, 2011)

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