You don’t have to move mountains to make a world of change.
Even the smallest tweaks in behaviour can cause a ripple effect that help change the environment around you. Just ask Erika Arnold. She’s always been a conscientious person, aware of her footprint on the earth and taking steps to limit it.
“But the past few years, I’ve been really trying to reduce my waste and pay attention to it,” she says. “I had already been doing some zero waste stuff, and I buy mostly fruits and vegetables, and I don’t buy a lot of packaged foods.”
Then she went on a trip to Costa Rica. She saw another way to live, another way to conserve materials, and started to realize just how much waste we produce in North America. And she brought that learning home with her.
“I did a full overhaul,” she says. For example, a lot of restaurants she visited in Costa Rica didn’t use throw away straws, but had steel ones to wash and reuse. While traveling, she and her friend purchased their own reusable cutlery — and she still uses it that today if she’s away from home.
And for things like soap, she buys bulk and brings her own refillable containers. And Arnold just doesn’t do this at home; she’s brought her sustainable habits to work with her, too. She’s part of the team at Studio B Yoga in Garrison. They were recognized for their sustainable way of doing things at the recent Chilliwack Chamber of Excellence Awards. And when owner Crystal Hasell found out they were nominated, she knew the accolades belonged with Arnold.
“She said, ‘if we win that’s your award,’” Arnold recalls. And from the time Mayor Sharon Gaetz read their name, along with a welcoming namaste to the end of their speeches, the two say the award is a bit of a blur. But they are thankful that the community has come to see them as a sustainable company. And it’s clear that Arnold’s enthusiasm for cleaning up the planet is growing. Signs of her efforts are all around the studio.
Their soap is bought in bulk, straight from the store into their own containers. They have a filtered water station and mason jars so nobody has to bring bottled water (which isn’t sold in the studio). For their merchandise, they prefer sellers who are local, with little to no packaging. They don’t print receipts unless a client needs it.
And, Arnold has even gotten the staff — and a handful of members — into the habit of taking their own reusable containers to restaurants for leftovers. It’s a two-for-one sustainable option. Food doesn’t go to waste, and no styrofoam ends up in the garbage.
And about that leftover food. Arnold and other staff members take their compost home with them, ensuring nothing that could be green again ends up in the landfill.
For Arnold, getting into the habit of sustainability is about getting out of the habits of convenience.
“For some reason we’ve gotten into the idea of convenience,” she says. “I have even seen one fruit or vegetable wrapped in plastic.”
Hasell says Arnold “is amazing and deserves so much credit for encouraging us all to try a more sustainable life to create a better future earth.”
In addition to teaching five classes a week at Studio B, plus the Girlvana Yoga for teens, and working as the studio manager, she runs a Sustainable Fraser Valley Facebook group and an Instagram page called @zerowastefraservalley, encouraging people to make changes in small ways. When she’s not doing all that, she’s in Vancouver studying holistic nutrition.
Hasell admits that she doesn’t do as much as Arnold, but that everyone making small changes can have a big effect. And Arnold has been that one drop in the ocean that’s having an effect on the studio, its staff, its clients, and with the acknowledgment that comes from the Chamber win, they hope the greater community, too.