Social Impact Needs You Too

By: Briana Loughlin | Plastic Free YYC

We live in a very interesting world these days. Everything moves at the speed of light and if it doesn’t, we deem it as broken. We exist within a digital world holding a plethora of information, an un-ending list of choices and a community that has no borders, literally at our fingertips; A fabricated world that can make it all too easy to forget the one just outside our front door. Our physical world is changing rapidly and, as we race on in our perfect cyber land, we allow our physical world fall victim to our out-of-sight-out-of-mind mentality. Interestingly enough, taking the best our digital world has to offer, many of us are stepping up to make a difference and we are witnessing the rise of, what some are calling the Social Impact Revolution.

While doing good for the world is not a new concept, it has more recently become considered essential for success; be it success within your career, your business or your family-life and the community.

Two years ago, I believed I was on the right track creating a rewarding marketing career. I was working for a global wine company, building connections in a fast-paced, lucrative industry, gaining experience and developing all the right transferable skills. However, as perfect as it all seemed on paper, I felt like something was a missing. I felt uninspired in my work, doubted myself, fought with my loved ones and simply didn’t recognize myself. I came to the conclusion it was time to leave and thankfully, so did the universe. Only a day before I was about to hand in my notice, the company followed the direction of many other employers in Alberta at the time and laid everyone off.

It took me no time at all to see the opportunity in this change, and in the most cliché way to describe it, I became reacquainted with my inner child. I rediscovered what was once guided me, the things I loved and the values that made me, me. Of course, I still enjoy a glass of lush Viognier, but I realized the things I valued and truly loved had nothing to do with selling wine! Because I’m a tree-hugging, bunny-loving, can’t-hurt-a-fly kind of girl.

Respect, love and empathy for our environment and all things living on this planet will always be my jam.

So, there I was, armed with a slew of marketing and communication skills and technological knowledge, paired with lots of time, that I could use for something I was passionate about.
So, I did just that. Turning on my laptop, I started writing. I posted and shared my thoughts and experience throughout our digital community, taking advantage of the never-ending resources it provided, all in an effort to get anyone who would read it on-board to reduce plastic waste and save a sea turtle, maybe two. And just like that Plastic-Free YYC was born and I had unwittingly joined this Social Revolution.

Fast-forward to today: Together with my rock-star co-founder, Isabelle, I now lead a growing team of passionate volunteers (26 to be exact) and PFYYC is the leading voice against plastic waste within our city. Joining many others around the globe – individuals, organisations, businesses and governing leaders – on the forefront of this cultural movement, PFYYC works across all sectors to spark change and reduce plastic waste. By taking advantage of all the greatness our digital world has to offer, we strive to stop this out-of-sight-out-of-mind mentality by bringing awareness to what is happening in our physical world.
When I look back to where I started, I had no idea it would lead to where we are now and how much I would learn. The journey of taking a simple lifestyle blog, turning it into an NPO, building a team and then leading that team, has been hard but rewarding.

Through it all, I have learned not only about the power social impact can have on a community, I now see the positive impact it can have on a person’s career or personal life.

Unintentionally, I had created a new, successful career path for myself. Being the Co-Founder of a fast-growing NPO I was able to create the opportunities I needed to build leadership skills and public speaking experience. My entrepreneurial spirit ran wild with ideas, events, and plans for my new organisation and my creative mind was unleashed. My attitude within my own home changed as well, full of positivity and support, and my social life is complete with the most amazing, like-minded people. As we built our remarkable team, it seemed important that we provided our volunteers roles and tasks they were good at and excited about thus indirectly creating a career-development hub. By basing each volunteer’s position in PFYYC on areas of interest and expertise or areas they may be studying in school, their participation within our organisation becomes valuable, hands-on, professional experience!

As more individuals find clarity in their values, integrating purpose and passion throughout their lives, it is more important than ever for businesses to play a part.

Individuals now have the ability to make educated decisions that will fall within their values, ideologies and beliefs. As consumers we want brands to share our beliefs and companies that truly care to make a positive impact in the community. It is no longer enough for a company to simply say it stands behind a cause or to “throw money” at a problem. At Plastic-Free YYC, we have had the pleasure of partnering with businesses, getting them involved by not only reducing waste, but being part of the conversation to provide value to their customers and stakeholders. To truly create social impact, it is essential to integrate purpose within the company, from leadership to the day-to-day operations, instilling core values and beliefs into the essence of your company.

The Social Impact Revolution is redefining the way in which all aspects of society interact.

It is defining our career choices, our votes, and our purchasing decisions. It is also clearly changing the way we define success. In this dynamic world, it is important to understand the whole picture surrounding “social impact”: what does it mean to you, your business, and your community; what are the values or beliefs are being represented by it; and of course, what changes or actions are you willing to make/accept as you embark on this endeavour of having a “social impact”. True social impact comes from within and is built, organically, from the values, passions and beliefs that make us all who we are, first and foremost as individuals.

As said by the great Leo Tolstoy:

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Want to have an impact? Get ready to change.
~ Briana

Briana Loughlin

Briana Loughlin

Co-Founder and Director of Inspiration & Change at Plastic-Free YYC

Briana Loughlin is the Co-Founder and Director of Inspiration & Change at Plastic-Free YYC. Briana provides her team direction on their waste reduction mission, as well as inspires Calgarians to live more plastic-free lives. A proud, Ocean Defender, Briana shared her mission as a public speaker, blogger, and activist. When she is not out saving the world from the perilous plastic pollution epidemic, she stays busy running her company, Awesome Sauce Virtual Business Services.