By: Nathaniel Tok, SFU Student
Mireta Strandberg-Salmon, a recent graduate of SFU’s resource and environmental management and dialogue program was recently awarded as a Top 25 Environmentalists under 25. The Peak reached out to Strandberg-Salmon to discuss her time at SFU and what the award means to her.
Strandberg-Salmon began her environmental work in high school working to stop the sales of single-use plastic water bottles from vending machines. She continued her initiative at SFU while leading the Ban the Bottle campaign. The group successfully helped to set up 168 water bottle refill stations across the SFU campuses and campaigned for the phasing out of bottled drinks and single-use plastic in 2021. This prevents the sale of roughly 260,000 plastic bottles at SFU each year.
“Pursuing environmental studies and an environmental career didn’t necessarily feel like a choice to me, given the state of the planet,” said Strandberg-Salmon. However, she noted the work “hasn’t felt like a burden. I love working with others to develop and implement creative solutions for a healthy, just, and resilient future for all.”
Strandberg-Salmon said, “My proudest environmental accomplishment to date is the role I played in catalysing a grassroots campaign to scale up my original Ban the Bottle campaign.” Her Ban the Bottle campaign has now expanded to 12 highschools in Greater Vancouver and in the United States.
Today, Strandberg-Salmon works in the environment sector both personally and professionally. As a policy analyst in the circular economy team at Environment and Climate Change Canada within the Canadian federal government, she does research and policy analysis to advance the circular economy in Canada. A circular economy is described by the Canadian government as an economy where nothing becomes waste by reusing, refurbishing, and recycling the goods we consume.
As a board director with the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation, she works to create climate justice and environmental protection at both the local and national scale through behaviour change and community cohesion. Strandberg-Salmon said being involved in both national and local contexts excites her the most. She is able to learn about implementing change at different scales.
Mireta credits her education at SFU with shaping her into the activist she is today. She said, “My education gave me the confidence and belief that I can, and should, challenge the status quo.” She noted she is learning “the facilitation skills necessary to bring people together to build a better future.
“The key to being successful is really to find a network of support [ . . . ] People want to get involved, they want to help, and they will be drawn into your vision for a better future.”
For her, winning the Top 25 award is a reminder to celebrate the small wins because every step forward can lead to a big future impact. “It’s easy to feel like your work is just a drop in the bucket, but this type of recognition is really important, validating, and encouraging for youth.”
Ultimately, Strandberg-Salmon believes activism is for everyone. As Strandberg-Salmon said, everyone can create their own impact with their “3 Vs: voice, voting, and volunteer.” She added, “Your voice is one of the most powerful tools you have to make a difference, so use it as much as you can in whatever form speaks to you.”
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