Rochelle Archibald is the founder and executive director at A Greener Future, an organization that is all about picking up junk for cleaner waterways and lakes.
Rochelle is the quintessential example of somebody who turned her hobby into a business or, in her case, a not-for-profit. Even on trips for work in her previous employment, Rochelle would spend her free time picking up litter and post the cleanup results on social media where she received support and encouragement. Eventually, when her work contract came to an end, Rochelle decided to follow her passion for cleaning up into an not-for-profit adventure instead. Soon enough, A Greener Future gained sponsors and became incorporated, growing well enough to gain cleanup projects in Portugal, Spain, The Bahamas, The United States and, of course, Canada.
We’ve also created two flagship events that help define what A Greener Future is all about. We recently ran our third annual Butt Blitz, which is a Canada-wide cigarette butt cleanup. We have volunteer coordinators in cities coast to coast that rally volunteers to pick up butts, counting as they go, and then send them all into TerraCycle to be recycled. This year we picked up a staggering 186,000 cigarette butts and handed out 520 pocket ashtrays! By cleaning up butts already on the ground and raising awareness of the damage they cause we hope that eventually smokers will realize the environmental and health concerns related to cigarette butt litter.
Love Your Lake is going into it’s second season. We (and plenty of volunteers along the way!) do a series of 100 litter cleanup along the shores of Lake Ontario starting in Niagara-on-the-Lake and finishing up in Kingston. It’s a big but rewarding endeavour. Water pollution is no joke and it’s nice to be able to bring our data, pictures, and stories to social media to show people the reality of what’s lurking on the beach.
Do you know where you got your drive from?
I get my drive from seeing results. Each time a project is completed I get a huge rush (and relief that it’s over when it comes to the big ones). I’ve always been a goal oriented person as I like having something to look forward to. Each task that I complete gives me more motivation, skills, and knowledge to help me finish the next project or task.
How do you stay self-motivated?
This can be tricky. I think the biggest part is that so many people are relying on me, which is a good thing. The support from volunteers, board members, friends and family keeps me going. If I don’t respond to emails, apply for grants, and do the work who will? I started this organization and I intend to keeping it going and making it the best it can be, not just for my own benefit but for the benefit of future generations that want to live on a clean and healthy planet.
What would you say is your preferred way to network?
In person at our events. It’s nice to meet new people that want to come out and help clean up the planet with us. I’m able to have some good conversations with volunteers during events. I like to find out why they’ve chosen to join us, what makes them care about our planet the most, and take a deeper look at who they are as a person. You don’t always get that kind of heartfelt information through social media.
How would you describe your process for deepening relationships?
Keep going back for more. Although life can be busy at times, taking time out of the day to connect with specific people can do wonders for the mind, body, soul, and relationship. I do my best to make time for as many people as I can, this can be time consuming but I really see the value in it.
What are your preferred tools for keeping organized?
I used to use an agenda all the time but now I find I rely on my phone more often. I’m a mom now so every time I go out it seems that I have to make five trips to the car to bring along all the things we need, packing an agenda is just added weight that is likely to get coloured on or ripped once my toddler gets his hands on it. I do keep a hard copy agenda, just in case my technology fails, but most of the time it stays at home on my desk.
What is your favourite way to market your product or services?
Social media has given us the most momentum when trying to reach our target audience. I love it’s flexibility and ability to reach people around the globe. Litter is a problem everywhere and while it’s important to draw in local volunteers and support, it’s just as important to advocate for change around the world and see what other organizations and activists are doing to save the planet.
Who has been your mentor in helping you find success?
I have two mentors, a life mentor and a business mentor. My business mentor is Suzanne Gibson, a nonprofit business consultant who has taken me under her wing to point me in the right direction as I navigate through the nonprofit world as a novice.
My life mentor is my grandmother. She’s always believed in me and has cheered me on in every task I take on. Some of my best memories are with my Nan, she’s always lived life to the fullest and been grateful for what she has. There’s no one that I’ve laughed harder with, and there’s no one who has taught me more about the beauty in life.
What social issue does your organization raise funds and/or awareness for?
A Greener Future raises awareness about the harm that litter causes to wildlife, people, and the planet. The funding we receive helps us run projects that cleanup littered areas in a variety of different places, as well as create educational messages to inspire a reduction of litter in the future. It’s important to educate people about where litter comes from, it isn’t always from litterbugs, sometimes it’s the wind or wildlife. By getting people to understand where litter comes from and the damage it can cause we have a better chance of getting them to make changes in their daily life that will reduce the occurrence of litter in the future.
How and where do you continue to learn?
I’m currently taking courses at Athabasca University (online). I also take weekly trips to the local library. I have a list of titles that is continuously growing. Having good conversations is always a great learning experience as well, I love gaining a new perspective and understanding how others see the world.
Do you have a fitness ritual that you live by?
Getting outside! Picking up litter is hard work. By the end of our Love Your Lake project last year I felt quite fit just from being outside and active every single day for ten weeks straight. I probably did over 10,000 squats and lifted over 500 lbs of garbage. When I’m not picking up litter (through the winter) walking, hiking, and chasing my toddler keep me in shape.
How do you feed your soul?
Traveling. I love experiencing new places. It doesn’t necessarily even have to be far from home. I love the feeling of not knowing what’s around the next corner. I love seeing wildlife, big trees, cool clouds, and colourful flowers. I’ve hiked the Camino de Santiago twice (Spain and Portugal), it’s the ultimate experience because every day is different, you never know who you’ll meet, where you’ll end up, what the weather will be, or if you’ll break an ankle (speaking from experience). Even if things don’t go as planned I can appreciate the experience and learn how to better prepare next time.
How would you describe the eating ritual that makes you feel most powerful?
Eating a zero waste diet makes me feel powerful. Over the past couple years our family has been working to reduce our waste little by little. We shop with reusable produce bags at the grocery store and take glass mason jars into Bulk Barn to get them refilled. By doing this we have reduced a majority of our waste, there’s always produce stickers, elastics, and the odd treat wrapper that sneaks in.
This way of eating has made us much healthier as a family. Most produce we can find package free, and we’re vegetarian so we don’t have to worry about meat packaging. We avoid all the middle aisles at the grocery store which is mostly processed food and go to the bulk store instead. Here we can get rice, pasta, cereal, baking supplies, loose leaf tea, and pretty much anything else we need package free! There are also unlimited treats there, so we have to be careful!
Who is your favourite personality to follow on Instagram?
I’m really inspired by Kathryn K (@going.zero.waste). She lives a zero waste lifestyle and shares her knowledge, passion, and ups and downs through her posts. She makes working towards a zero waste life seem manageable and rewarding instead of daunting and unrealistic.
What lifestyle brand would you say shares your values most?
Patagonia. From their founder to the funding they provide to grassroots organizations, there’s nothing I don’t like about Patagonia. They tell great stories through their social media and encourage people to be more responsible when it comes to their consumer habits and environmental impact.
Who is your favourite artist?
My taste is continuously changing and I always have my eyes and ears open to see who or what I discover around the next corner. I am always astounded when I hear my friend Jessie Black play piano, or see the paintings that my friend Jennifer Richardson creates. I feel the meaning in their art because I know them both as inspiring young artists, and since I’m not a painter nor pianist I can really appreciate the talent they exude.
What is your favourite meal?
Anything that my fiancé makes. He’s especially good at making soup! We’re a vegetarian family and we often put some time and research into finding new recipes to try out.
What is your favourite sport to watch?
Football! I was never really a big sports fan until I met my soon-to-be-husband. He took the time to explain the game rules and best of all took me to live sporting events. Going to a NFL game for the first time was an amazing experience. The energy, the people, the atmosphere combine to make an unforgettable experience, plus my fiancé’s enthusiasm is quite humourous.
Where is your favourite place to unwind?
By the water. I’ve always been a beach lover. I suppose that’s part of the reason why I came up with the Love Your Lake project. I certainly can’t complain that I get to spend eight weeks lakeside. While picking up litter may not sound like fun, it is! Especially when you get to enjoy the sound of the waves, feel the breeze in your hair, and see the birds flying overhead – thanking us for cleaning up their home.