One apprentice alumna shares her reflections on using her art skills to share her passion for the environment.
About Our Apprentice Alumna
Mallory is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto in Canada. She is a double major in environmental science and environmental studies, with a minor in geoscience, and is pursuing a career in environmental consulting and education. Her up and coming brand, Enverything, plans to release stickers this year while educating people about environmental issues on Instagram.
2020. I don’t need to say much more. It was sad, weird, uncomfortable, and eye-opening for us all. As a young woman living in a city, I didn’t think it would impact my life as much as it did. I assumed the pandemic would end after three months, and I would get some much-needed time off from school. Boy, was I wrong!
When the pandemic hit Toronto, my family wanted me to move home. Still, I did not want to move home and leave my new-found independence and apartment. So, we compromised, and I ended up moving back home for what would turn out to be six months. My days consisted of the same monotonous tasks: wake up, walk my dog, eat a lot of food, watch YouTube videos, and then go to bed. I got so bored that I cut bangs into my hair, which we all know is never a good life choice. I needed something new to get feeling good about the future.
Enter an Apprenticeship
Then, one facetime call with a friend shifted my ample free time after she told me about using FLIK to connect with female leaders and grow professionally. This platform was what I needed to keep busy during the long quarantine days. Within a week, I connected with Kim and started creating content for FLUSH.
Over the last six months, I have created children’s classes about sanitation, hygiene, toilets, and the environment that FLUSH can share globally via Outchool. The first class that I made is still my favorite - I drew cartoon pictures of toilets and how people use them for kids between seven- to ten-years. I also enjoyed building the Toilets and the Environment class for teenagers - I shared all of the things that I wish I knew before starting my environmental degree, such as the interconnectedness of our ecosystems. Looking back on these classes, I expressed my creativity in a way that I didn’t know was possible. Through my short animations and drawings, I had the privilege of educating children on topics that most people never learn.
Three Lessons from Six Months of Toilet Education
Overall, there are three main things that I have learned through this apprenticeship:
The general public knows nothing about water and sanitation. When I first had my interview with Kim, she told me that I could say that I am a water and sanitation specialist by the end of my apprenticeship. I remember laughing at that comment because I thought it was a joke, and then I started doing my research. I learned loads about things that affect me every day, like where our wastewater goes and how our plumbing systems work. I also learned about how inaccessible toilets are for marginalized communities which opened my eyes to problems that I had never considered before – even in North America. In my preliminary research for this position, I realized how easy it is to ignore sanitation problems when they don’t affect us personally. I am glad that I got the chance to learn about these issues, as I can now bring awareness to them in my work and social circles.
Communication is really important when discussing environmental topics. This apprenticeship made me realize that the environmental sector isn’t very good at communicating our ideas. In creating content for kids, I got to practice breaking down complex information into simpler ideas. This exercise has immediately helped me better explain environmental issues to family members, friends, and colleagues.
You don’t have to choose between being an artsy person and being a sciencey person. Growing up, I always believed that these two fields were mutually exclusive. I never belonged to either group because I wasn’t creative enough to be the best artist, nor was I smart enough to be the best scientist; I was just OK at both. Through creating these classes, I now realize that I can use both to communicate my ideas effectively. This realization has allowed me to think critically about what I want my future to look like and what I want to be doing every day.
My Next Journey
There is one final thing that my apprenticeship with FLUSH taught me – my capability. In October, I started an Instagram paged called Enverything. At Enverything, I create educational posts about the environment that ordinary people can understand. This page has become a creative outlet for me to share important information about the environment that most people don’t know. I hope to develop this page into a brand where I sell merchandise and develop educational classes for children and adults. If I hadn’t done this apprenticeship with FLUSH, then I wouldn’t have taken this first step; for that, I am forever grateful.
Thank you, Kim, for being such a great mentor. Your insight and support have made this an awesome experience for me. I hope that people continue to enjoy our classes and learn about these pressing issues. And to you, the person reading this right now: if you enjoyed this blog post and would like to learn more about my work, don’t forget to check out @enverything on Instagram!