Have you heard of Environmental Climate Change Organization (ECCO) Halifax? Created by two Grammarians, Abby Steeves'23 and Heather Clarke'25, it's a group dedicated to taking environmental action and educating others. We asked Heather and Abby to share with us what inspired them to start ECCO and what it's all about. Check out what they had to say:
In Heather's words: "It’s still crazy to me that ECCO started with a walk. My friend Abby and I were just walking around our neighbourhood and we saw a piece of litter. That sparked the conversation. I had always wanted to do something for the environment, and I knew this was my chance. Abby and I were bursting with ideas. We are both so passionate about the environment, and we knew our friends were too, so we contacted them. That was how ECCO was formed. We worked hard trough the summer of 2019 and put on our first event September 20th of that year. Our survival and the survival of the planet depends on our choices and when we act. We need to act now and ECCO and I are doing everything we can to help. Please try your best to do the same."
In Abby's words: "Heather and I have always been close family friends, and we have also always been very passionate about the earth. Seeing as we are neighbours, and our families are really close, a lot of the time we spend together is spent talking about the climate crisis. We help each other out and give each other tips about things like good meat substitutes or new plastic alternatives. We have also made a lot of personal changes (becoming vegetarian, significantly cutting back on plastic etc.) together so it is only fitting that we started this group together.
A bit over a year ago we were on a walk and we started talking about the environment. We were both feeling overwhelmed and tired as a result of the things we cut out of our lives for the greater good of the planet and we started to talk about how small we felt. It is definitely true that any one person can make a difference by themselves and the every day things one person does makes a difference, however it doesn’t always feel that way. Although we do recognize the importance every individual has, we agreed that we are stronger together and we had a lot of friends that had expressed interest in getting involved, so why we thought "why don’t we make a group?!"
One thing led to another and the next thing I knew Heather and I were in my room texting all our friends that we thought may be interested saying “Do you want to help me save the world?”. I originally assumed that this would last a month or so until people got bored of it, but it has grown into something even bigger than an environmental action group. One of my favourite things about ECCO was being able to witness people, who a few months before knew close to nothing about the climate crisis, grow and start to make personal changes and become aware of what is going on around them. I've loved watching people show their support for the climate movement. I've also loved seeing how ECCO has given people the opportunity to learn not only about climate change but about activism and leadership.
If you truly understand exactly what is happening with the earth, you are scared. It is impossible to not be even a little bit scared about the climate crisis for those who understand it. For me and for a lot of people I know, a deep understanding of climate change doesn’t come instantly. It may take months or even years of people being told facts about the earth for them to have this “uh oh” moment when they finally understand what is happening. Once you truly understand, there is no going back to the habits you had earlier. It reshapes your life. It took me a few months of research to understand what is going on around me and that I need to make personal and global changes to have a livable and safe future. This was really difficult for me to wrap my head around and for anyone to wrap their head around for that matter (especially a child or teenager). The immediate personal changes I wanted to make weren't easy but I knew it’s what I had to do. ECCO means so much to me because not only are we making a difference, but being around people that understand the burden that being a teenage activist carries is indescribable and has made me a better person."
Click here to check out their Instagram page and learn more about their work. Keep up the incredible work, Heather and Abby!
Abby was also featured on a podcast with the Webb Innovation Center for Dyslexia where she touches on living with dyslexia as well as her environmental activism work and ECCO Halifax. Check it out here!