Sustaining life: Meet Celine MacKay

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My extraordinary person profiles are about to become a monthly thing. There will always be people to write about, but my kids will only be young once. I’m lucky that I’ve been given some time off to enjoy the summer with them. I wanted to go out this month with a bang. I have always been a big fan of Mother Earth. I do my best to treat her with respect. I encourage my kids to reduce, reuse, recycle and even hug a tree once in a while.

I’m always on the lookout for someone who can really spark me. By spark I mean totally inspire. I love when an individual is so passionate and willing to share their story/knowledge that I literally hang off every word they say. Celine MacKay is one of those people who truly sparked me. Her Facebook posts on trying to live a zero-waste lifestyle compelled me to pursue her. I went to high school with her but I only remember a sweet and smart girl whose pretty face made her the whole package.

I wanted to share her story with you in hopes that we can all learn something. She is extraordinary, no doubt about that. She’s a hard-working mother of two who owns and operates Sustain with her husband, Jonathan. They are likely the most eco-centric couple in town. Our planet is hurting. She and her husband are trying to do something about that.

Celine has excellent advice for anyone who wants to start doing their part to reduce their imprint on the world. She will coach you through the transition of a life with less garbage. This is what she has to say about what she’s doing to live in sync and in balance with Mother Earth and how you can be part of the change, too.

~Laura


Maybe it’s not possible to be all in. But if you ask Celine MacKay, she will tell you sustainability is not an all or nothing thing.

“I get the sense that people are intimated to start,” the 35-year-old says. “Living sustainably is not concrete but an ideal based on values and principles lived out every day. Each of us exists on a spectrum of green; moving towards something more sustainable all the time.”

Celine is a combination of all things awesome. She co-owns an eco store in town. She and her husband Jonathan are preparing to open a zero-waste cafe next week. She’s excited about the prospects. No takeout cups will be served. You’ll have to bring your own reusable. She’s into herbalism and aromatherapy and that contributes to the overall health and wellness of her family.

Celine and her husband Jonathan are doing everything they can to teach their children Charlie (left) and Finn how to live in harmony with the earth. That means reducing the amount of their weekly recycling and lowering their garbage consumption to almost nothing.

She loves yoga so much that she teaches it and she cooks from scratch and knows all about toxins that are commonly found in homes. On top of all of this, Celine has adapted to a zero-waste lifestyle. It’s something she works hard at every day.

“Convenience is the enemy of sustainability,” she says.

Everything that comes out of her mouth during our half-hour interview is point blank. It’s the truth. Plastic is taking over our world and it’s become a major threat to life on this planet. It’s made its way into our food chain and it’s even being found in the tiny grains of sea salt. It’s taking over our oceans and it’s impacting our very own town.

Plastic pollution has elevated to rival climate change in terms of the severity and impact. It’s everywhere. What I love is having the choice to choose. You can literally control what you bring into your own life and how much plastic you are personally responsible for. Every time you consume something you are casting a vote. Choosing to avoid plastic or not support the pervasiveness of it definitely matters and it definitely adds up.

Celine has chosen to be part of the zero-waste movement because the natural environment is something she’s passionate about. She encourages people to do an assessment of their recycling and, if possible, totally discard using single-use plastic. Find an alternative that’s going to create less impact.

Her suggestion for anyone who wants to do their part helping the environment is simple. Assemble the tools to be package-free is step one. A good collection of mason jars, stainless-steel containers, a variety of reusable zipper enclosure bags that are lined (she has two in her purse at all times), and a decent collection of cotton produce bags and reusable shopping bags. If you can get that, you’re 90 per cent there, she says. The rest is being organized and aware of your habits.

“Within that simple assortment I can do most of my grocery shopping plastic-free. I also have a reusable cup, a water bottle and stainless steel straw,” she says. “Think about the the things you use every day. You would never leave your house without keys and cell phone, so don’t leave home without your re-usables.”

Celine attributes her passion for the environment to growing up in Muskoka; she’s had an appreciation for the beauty that surrounds her since she was a young girl. She has made a conscious choice to not contribute to polluting the planet for personal reasons as well as for the future of her two kids. And she admits the big change to reducing her imprint on the world wasn’t easy at first and is still something she battles every day. She’s not perfect, she admits. Choosing organic over unpackaged food items often presents a challenge. Sometimes she finds herself worrying about the impact she makes even though it’s very small.

“There are some days when I feel so small and like I’m not doing anything at all. I have to constantly tell myself I’m making an effort most of the time. The biggest thing for me is that I have the choice. It’s about how I structure my day. The biggest impact you can have in terms of lowering waste or consumerism is weaving it into small things you do every day.”

Plastic bags, water bottles, take-out containers and straws. Those are the four most commonly found pieces of plastic litter anywhere in the world. And in our town.

“I can go for a walk anywhere in Huntsville and find one of those four things within five minutes,” she says.

Every single piece of plastic made will never leave this earth. Think about that for a second. It’s a scary thought. There’s an abundance of resources available to help you get in on the zero-waste movement, one just needs the drive to want to start. Baby steps. There’s no better time than the present to be part of the movement to make the world a better place. Preferably, without plastic.

Celine will coach anyone who is interested in attempting to transition to a zero-waste lifestyle. It might seem hard at first, but a shift in thinking and some determination will allow it to become second nature in no time.

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10 Comments

  1. Meredith Hiscox on

    Great job Celine
    Love your store and I need to work harder at this myself.
    Time for a conscious change !
    Thanks for your part in helping us see a need to be mindful in this area!

  2. It is wonderful to see people BEING the example instead of just talking about it, it makes so much more impact. Good job Celine I’m glad to see you and Johnathon helping to lead the way, keep up the great work.

  3. Celine, my wife has started this in our house too. We have been making a conscious effort to reduce our plastics. We have the metal straws as I never thought about them before. Also the bamboo toothbrushes and we look for things that have paper packaging rather than plastic. I hope this idea catches on because it is a great one!!

  4. Very inspiring Celine! I am hoping to touch base with you as I am working towards putting together an event called “Green Foundations; Shaping a Sustainable Community” It would be taking place in Bracebridge, ON – I was wondering if you would be interested in running a workshop or discussion on sustainability and reducing your carbon (or plastic 😛 ) footprint? Please email me or call me anytime to discuss the details further! [email protected]

  5. Such an inspiring story. Thank you for having the determination to make a difference and the fortitude to stick with it. As a family, we try to make good choices to do our part, but there is certainly room for improvement and we will do better. Can’t wait for the cafe!!!! What a wonderful idea. Glad we have you and your husband leading the way for us, in Huntsville!Thank you!

  6. I admire your family for leading a lot of people along the way of saving the earth. I do not use plastic bags, I use cloth, and store bags. I think you are going to have a lot of people interested in following your way..

  7. We are, indeed, fortunate to have you as an example. Even more importantly, you are teaching the next generation (by example, not proselytizing). If they can influence their peers, then you have truly “paid it forward”.

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