Becoming an Environmentalist: My Story and Advice

If you’re reading this you’re either curious about who I am and what I’m about OR you are wondering how to be an environmentalist. Taking you through the major events that directed me to where I am today, I offer you advice and inspiration if you’re on the path to becoming an environmentalist!

My story will bring me to my current stage where I’m studying at the University of Edinburgh for my Master’s degree in Carbon Management which I hope to continue into a PhD and working as a Renewable Energy Professional.

Disclaimer: some links in this post are affiliate links. If a purchase is made through these links I may earn a small commission. The decision to make a purchase is entirely up to the reader. I only promote what I believe in.

Pela Case

What Being an Environmentalist Means to Me

Winter Hiking and being an environmentalist

My definition of an environmentalist is someone who actively makes protecting, sustaining, and advocating for the environment a priority. 

Some environmentalists will be working in a related field, partnering in non-profits, or even writing books to educate others. However, you can still be an environmentalist if you try to live greener or remind friends on how to protect the environment. There are many places on the spectrum.

Realizing that being an environmentalist can start with a passion for the environment should fuel you with the motivation you need to translate this into action. We all start somewhere.

When Did I Become an Environmentalist?

To take you on my journey to where I am today I needed to reflect on when I realized that I was an environmentalist. The truth is, because of my broad definition of what it means to be an environmentalist, I do not think I can pinpoint the exact moment I realized.

I use the word “realized” because I believe that I have always been an environmentalist, just not always completely aware of it.

Most of us are born holding onto that connection with nature and grasping tighter as we learn more about the science behind the world we live in, but unfortunately, a lot of us lose that relationship with age.

I never lost that passion and connection, not fully anyway. The problem was I could never figure out what I wanted to do with my life, but I did know I wanted to connect it with nature.

I spent most of my time outside growing up and my curiosity for animals and plants never faded. Constantly surrounded by rural and natural lands in my home province of Newfoundland, Canada. My relationship with the environment to is strong to ignore.

Now ask yourself; “Am I an Environmentalist?”

Becoming an Environmentalist: My Story

Woman (Alexx) standing in front of flower pot island at low tide in Burntcoat Head Park being an environmentalist

Studying Geology

I guess the first real step in my journey (that I can recall in detail) is when I decided to attend University to study Geology.

The summer before my first year of university, I signed up for general courses with no idea of what path I would take. I remember explaining to my coworkers that I loved science and Earth, but I did not like one single science enough to commit. This is when my supervisor suggested Geology.

I never completed a single course in Geology or Geography in high school and this career path was foreign to me. Unfortunately, all the career paths and possibilities are not always presented to us when we need them most.

When I looked into Geology I realized that it is literally the study of the Earth. It incorporated every single one of the sciences and made connections that I never knew existed. It was perfect.

Luckily, all through my four years of school, I never doubted the path I chose. My only regret is not paying more attention and not learning more from my professors at the time.

Unfortunately, I lost my strong relationship with nature through University. I studied and learned about the Earth every day, but forgot to enjoy the physical world.

Partying, studying, and bad friendships/relationships consumed my life without me really noticing.

After four years passed in a blur, I finally graduated. Where would I go next?

I looked at the moon tattooed on my left arm and remembered the planetary space and science center at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. I toured the center as part of a conference and really loved it.

Applying for a Master’s degree seemed like the right move. I loved school and I would tell people that when I’m older I wanted to be a university professor.

They offered Planetary Geology courses and it sounded perfect. I am fascinated by space and of course, I love geology. It would be the best of both worlds (no pun intended).

I contacted the head professor and expressed my interest. He flew me to the University and after a great meeting and interview, he offered me a fully paid opportunity. I could even earn my Master’s and Ph.D. in four years instead of six.

A Major Turning Point

I will always regret what comes next, but in the same breath, I am so thankful because this decision is why I am where I am right now.

The same day I received the acceptance letter I also received a job offer with a major Oil & Gas company in my home province. They promised me I work from my home province, get paid a great amount of money, and have opportunities to work and train all over the world.

My desire to stay in Newfoundland and my fear of being unsuccessful with my Master’s degree led me to choose the job. It is so bittersweet to reflect on.

Winning an Opportunity of a Lifetime and Losing Myself

The job was an amazing opportunity and I am thankful for the friendships I made and the education I received, but I will never work in the oil and gas industry ever again unless my job is to completely change it.

woman looking at a donkey in a barn

Working in an offshore and isolated environment for three weeks at a time can really mess with you. Especially working the night shift.

With only three weeks home at a time, and being occupied with all the wrong people, I completely lost my passion for creativity and being outside. A year passed and I never even hiked.

On top of the strain on my life, working in the oil industry filled me with guilt. How could I be who I was, advocate for what I do, and work here? The more I realized I was only doing it for the money, the more I realized I was disappointed in myself.

I always take pride in what I do, but for the first time in my life, I was not proud of myself. This is a feeling I never want to feel again.

A year passed and I lost myself. Consumed by family tragedies, toxic work environments, and bad habits I lost myself.

In the summer of 2019, I decided that if I was stuck in my work contract until 2020, I’m going to at least make the most of my days off.

I purchased a pocket camera and started hiking and blogging. Rediscovering myself in this process and realizing what I was giving up and what damage I was contributing to.

Girl standing on rock looking out into the ocean

The pressure to stay in this “great” career was overwhelming. My parents and even some friends tried to remind me how lucky I was, but I kept insisting that I was unhappy.

Going back to school was my top priority now. The company started to struggle with the falling of oil and gas and I knew that I needed to get out. My mental health was at an all-time low, I did not even recognize myself.

Quitting and Applying to School

Fast forward to March 2020, just before COVID-19 grew to a global pandemic, I called my boss from the oil rig and told him that I could not be here any longer. Mentally I was so far away and it was not safe for my coworkers or myself.

Thankfully, my boss and coworkers were very understanding and within 48 hours I was home and my resignation was completed.

I could not believe it and I definitely panicked for the first little while. Even though things were scary and unpredictable at this moment (and even more so because of COVID-19), I had to keep going. Making a plan and applying to school would give me some structure.

March, April, and most of May were very difficult for me. COVID-19 had put the world at a standstill and I had just completely switched up my life.

Then I was accepted into the school.

No matter what happens now, I know that I made the right decision. Studying Carbon Management and doing my part to educate others and work towards a greener world is my passion and my calling.

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Blogging and Growing as an Environmentalist

Following Alexx started in 2019, but I did not really discover who I am and what I want this brand to be until now.

My blog name represents my readers following my lead and learning from my experiences. It allows me to post about a wide range of topics because for a while I did not know what exact “niche” I wanted to be in. However, I think I finally discovered what I want to be.

Following Alexx

Environmental activism is extremely important to me so I will be using my blog as a platform to communicate and educate as I learn more. Discussions about how to live more naturally and even green product/company reviews!

Photography and being out in the world trying new things and adventuring is what I live for. I know I can stay committed to the life I want to live by posting my experiences and photos I capture along the way.

Most importantly, I’m a work in progress. I am constantly learning and growing. Having healthy discussions and having fun with my blog is crucial to keeping my spark so I will always include a more personal and fun side of myself!

Advice for Others

If you’re feeling stuck or want to grow as an environmentalist I have several words of advice for you:

  1. Do what makes you happy not just what makes you money: of course, I know sometimes this is easier said than done. If you are stuck in a job because of financial burdens I want you to start making your “get out” plan. Start a savings account that will be used solely for bills when you decide to leave your job. This gives you time to comfortably figure out what you want to do without rushing into another miserable career.
  2. You can change your mind at any time: This applies to everything, nothing is permanent unless you make it.
  3. Start by reading and educating yourself: if you want to do more for your planet or even just more for yourself, start by learning as much as possible. Sarah Ivens “Forest Therapy” played a huge part in my rediscovery.
  4. Find your people: only surround yourself with people who energize you and inspire you. If people are dragging you down or causing you to lose hope, remove them from social media, and set your boundaries.
  5. If you never try you will never know: I can be shy and doubt myself, but in my academic and professional career, when I take the chance I usually see results or I get redirected towards something better. If you’re considering a career move or life path, reach out to someone! 
If you made it to the end of my post I want to say thank you for taking the time to get to know me. I hope to build my brand and build a community of people that I feel good to be surrounded by.
Please leave any comments or reach out! I would love to discuss more.
Want to know more? Check out my About Me page.