Okanagan: Women 4 Sustainability targets simplicity

Keeping it simple is a basic tenant of a sustainable lifestyle, but one that is often downplayed, according to Joanne de Vries of the Fresh Outlook Foundation (pictured below. - Contributed
Keeping it simple is a basic tenant of a sustainable lifestyle, but one that is often downplayed, according to Joanne de Vries of the Fresh Outlook Foundation (pictured below.
— image credit: Contributed

Local conference runs three or four times per year, encouraging women to develop more sustainable lives

As a columnist for the Globe and Mail put it this weekend, many of us are "trying to cram a steamer trunk's worth of living into a clutch-purse sized day" and this will soon have women in the Okanagan talking.

Women 4 Sustainability is a local conference set up by the Fresh Outlook Foundation, generally to address sustainability and how it applies to women in all walks of life. This spring, the topic of choice is simplicity.

"We're looking for topics that women from all sectors can enjoy, whether they're in business, non-profit, government or academia," said Joanne de Vries, founder and CEO of the Okanagan-based Fresh Outlook Foundation.

The Foundation is perhaps best known for its annual Building Sustainable Communities Conference, a multi-day clearinghouse for ecological and cultural ideas generally attracting the local governance, community planning and academic crowd from around B.C.

Women 4 Sustainability is one evening of breakout sessions and conversations intended to spur dialogue, action and ideas.

Joanne de Vries"Simplicity certainly is at the centre of discussions about sustainability," said de Vries who selected the theme after noticing it's also often the most overlooked.

"Basically, I think many of us are on this treadmill where we want more so we work more so we earn more so we can buy more," she said.

Jumping on this hamster wheel often leaves women with less time for relationships, downtime and a healthy lifestyle.

Statistics Canada estimates suggest 40 per cent of the food produced in Canada is going to waste—a $27 billion cost—because Canadians typically buy too much, cook too much and then must throw too much food away. And our approach to clothing is no better.

"In the past, fashion was a seasonal thing. Now, with globalization, fashion is dictated by new designs that come out every few weeks," said de Vries. "Stores are restocked at least once a month."

From practical sessions on decluttering at home and at work to sessions on shopping and cooking more simply, Women 4 Sustainability should spur discussion on ways to reduce stress and have less impact on the planet.

The event runs April 8 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Sunset Ranch. Tickets are $20, register online.

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