Dying coral reefs drive Associate of Science student to make change

By Sucheta Singh

Coral reefs around the world are dying. Christen McDonald saw it firsthand in Jamaica, where she grew up. The coral cover off the coast of the small Caribbean country had declined from 50 percent in the 1970s to less than five percent by the early 1990s. Although it has been making a slow comeback with help from reef restoration efforts, the devastation left a lasting effect on Christen.

So lasting, in fact, that when she moved to Canada, Christen decided to pursue Environmental Studies at Douglas College. Then, when she heard a presentation at the College about the zero waste movement, she knew she had to get involved.

“It inspired me to work toward a waste-free lifestyle, and I haven’t looked back,” Christen says.

Now, among other things, she makes her own laundry detergent, eschews the use of plastic and paper bags and, instead of buying her own bike, she rents one.

After completing her Associate of Arts Degree in Environmental Science, Christen plans to transfer to a university to complete a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering. Once she graduates, she wants to work as an environmental scientist for BC Hydro, assessing the impacts of dams and other projects on the environment and offering ways to reduce them.

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