Emma Melis

McGill University, Montreal, Canada


I am a passionate young environmentalist, originally from Toronto, Canada, and now living in the heart of Montreal to attend McGill University, where I study Arts and Sciences for Sustainability, Science, and Society. Environment-wise, I’m super passionate about pollinators, “trashion,” zerowaste, and respect for nature. Otherwise, I love painting with watercolours, writing, learning languages, watching documentaries, travelling, and meeting new people.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Stimulating. Challenging. Educational. Empowering. Creative.

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?

Oh boy… there were so many unforgettable PGC moments for me. From loudly blurting out “STOP SUCKING!” at my friends when they accidentally took straws, out of habit, in the days following the Strawless Water Challenge, to cooking a meal of dumpster-dived food with people in my residence, there are a lot of memories to think about when I recall the PGC. Ultimately, the most memorable aspect of the PGC for me was engaging people and getting them involved in some of my crazy (at times!) schemes. I couldn’t have completed this challenge without the members of the Environmental Residence Council, my residence-mates, and my close friends and family. The PGC’s element of social communication, leadership, and engagement in each challenge was definitely one of my favourite parts of the PGC’s set-up. It forced me to expand my sphere of influence and of activism outreach, and was a great way to force myself to ‘be out there,’ like a push in the right direction.

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have you changed? What have you learned about yourself?

I have absorbed so much information and wisdom in such a short amount of time, and have become well-versed in issues that I’d never really researched before.

Before PGC, I felt like a passionate environmentalist. Now, I’m informed and equipped with hundreds of resources to pass on to others and spread helpful messages, information, and tips and encourage environmental efforts.

From PGC, I learned that it’s my vocation to study environmental sustainability. Do you know that feeling of relief when you find that everything has finally “clicked” into place? Delving deeper and deeper into the infinite well of environmental activism this month has shown me that this is my life’s calling — to be a steward of the planet in whatever and all ways I can.

Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

Over the course of this month, I’ve been tasked with becoming knowledgeable about environmental issues and coming up with solutions and step-by-step approaches in mitigating and resolving these issues. The challenge trained me to tackle future initiatives I hope to lead.

The purpose of this challenge can be summed up into this simple word progression: EDUCATION. INSPIRATION. ACTION. IMPACT. REPEAT. When one person is EDUCATED about an important environmental issue at hand, either in their own local region or in another global part of the world, and they feel intensely angered or saddened by the problem, they’re INSPIRED to act upon it. There were many challenges this month that made me learn more about issues I’d always glossed over in my own daily life, and by learning more about the detrimental realities of many of these things, I realised how bad it all is and how it must be changed. So follows the ACTION. If the change is going to happen, an action plan and project layout, needs to be set up with a specific set of goals in mind and so that it can happen dynamically to engage people. By engaging people with a successful campaign and project, there is an IMPACT. The environment benefits from the positive impact of your campaign, and there’s also a social impact as a result of leadership from within. If more and more people become involved and inspired, the process will continue and REPEAT itself as the cycle starts all over again. This is the kind of Ripple effect I will want to always strive for!

When I picture myself as a future changemaker, I see myself… being myself. I think that the only way to effectively spread inspiration to others is to naturally show your own inspiration and passion for the cause in question. I want to use my strengths to my advantage to effect changes and to benefit people and the planet.