Meet Sophi Robertson, Our Environmentalist in Residence for Fall 2019!

August 1, 2019 | Diana L.

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From September 2 to November 9, Toronto Public Library welcomes Sophi Robertson, our fall Environmentalist in Residence (EnvIR) presented as part of the Our Fragile Planet program series!

Sophi Robertson
Photo credit: Amanda Dell'Aquila.

Since 2016, Sophi lives a waste-less lifestyle and actively engages with community members, brands and companies to live more sustainably. Through her work as @YourEcoFriend on Instagram, and as one of the administrators on the Zero Waste Toronto Facebook group, she regularly offers practical and accessible ideas, tips and solutions related to reducing waste. She has been featured on CBC’s Marketplace and The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail is also accessible through Canadian Newsstream with a valid library card.

In her current role as the Zero Waste Event Coordinator at the Toronto Tool Library, Sophi motivates community members to think and act on reducing waste and sustainability through events, outreach and resources.

Sophi at an event promoting zero waste gift wrapping
Sophi at the annual Toronto Tool Library Holiday Gift Swap event, working the zero waste gift wrapping station. Photo source: Sophi Robertson.

The Environmentalist in Residence (EnvIR) program supports the Our Fragile Planet program series and will serve as an industry expert in the area of conservation and sustainability.

This residency and the Our Fragile Planet program series is made possible through the generous support from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.TD Friends of the Environment Foundation logo

Sophi will lead free, engaging programs, hands-on workshops and offer community consultations at the Richview Branch from September 2 to November 9, 2019.


Get to know Sophi

I chatted with Sophi to get to know her better.

What interested you about Toronto Public Library's (TPL) Environmentalist in Residence (EnvIR) position, and what are you looking most forward to during your residency?

Being able to share my passion for protecting our environment through waste reduction and helping to make it accessible for Torontonians. I'm looking forward to connecting with library staff and patrons. I want to hear their concerns, their questions and hope to provide some practical actions to address them.

The EnvIR program was developed with Indigenous communities and relationships in mind. What steps would you take to ensure that your work honours and respects the role of local Indigenous groups and communities as stewards of this land and its waters?

I am inspired by the TPL always striving for better in incorporating Indigenous perspectives and representation. I acknowledge that many of the mindful environmental practices come from Indigenous people and traditions. I will continue to share these practices while acknowledging and respecting where they come from. Indigenous communities are rooted with a deep reciprocal connection to the natural world, which is truly what I endeavour to share. We all must connect with our environment to protect it. I hope to partner with Ojibiikaan Indigenous Cultural Network to offer a collaborative program this fall.

What is the environmental issue that you would like to tackle as the Environmentalist in Residence?

I have a keen interest to waste reduction as it was my first tangible step in lowering my environmental impact. I share my experiencing by offering hands-on workshops with a background of why I teach this. It is also essential to provide the resources necessary for achieving household waste reduction.

Sophi carrying a crate of litter.
Sophi picking up litter along the shores in Newfoundland. Photo source: Sophi Robertson.

What do you enjoy the most about your environmental work?

I enjoy the strong sense of community I get through this work. The feeling of renewed hope is motivating when people are empowered to make or learn something new that reduces the extraction of resources from our planet.

What inspires the environmental work you do? / Who are some environmentalists that inspire you?

My daughter inspires me to continue the work that I do so that she can have a healthy future. There are many environmentalists that inspire me, but I feel that I am most inspired by everyday people who care about making a difference in the lives of the people around them. I believe that if we care about our community, we also care for our environment. People and the planet are one and the same.

Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?

I am working with the Toronto Tool Library to bring four swaps to the city this year. I am hoping to transition from my day job of 16 years as a Registered Massage Therapist to a full-time position that supports my work in environmentalism.

Sophi next to a sign that reads #LetsGetWasteless
Sophi next to a sign that reads #LetsGetWasteless. Photo source: Sophi Robertson.

Don't pass up this exciting opportunity to meet Sophi, our spring Environmentalist in Residence at the Richview Branch and some additional library locations!


Upcoming Programs

Here are some of her upcoming programs: 

Environmentalist Meet & Greet & Sip

Meet Sophi and enjoy some of her famous (and yummy) "Scrappy Tea" – made from 100% rescued fruit scraps! Learn how you can make this flavorful beverage while reducing food waste.  


What is a Zero Waste Lifestyle?

Learn about how this can be a simple lifestyle choice and tips to reduce overall waste and consumption. 


No Sew Reusable Bags

Say no to plastic bags by creating your own fabric tote bag out of an old t-shirt in this hands-on workshop. 


Sophi's DIY eco-friendly cleaning solution

DIY Eco-Friendly Home Cleaning

Store bought cleaners typically have several toxic ingredients and can be costly. Learn how to make citrus peel infused vinegar and simple reusable all-purpose wipes. 


How to Host a Low Waste, Budget-Friendly Party

Celebrating a special event doesn't need to be expensive or wasteful. Learn about upcycling party decor, package-free food and low waste gift ideas. 


An example of a Furoshiki cloth-wrapped item.

Reduce Waste, Reuse with Furoshiki- The Art of Japanese Cloth Wrapping

Learn how to wrap and carry items like food or gifts without tape or waste.


Sophi's zero waste kit - reusable jars, fabric and more.

Zero Waste Fair

Hosted by our very own Environmentalist in Residence, meet a variety of organizations that focus on different areas of reducing waste and promoting sustainability. Learn how to repair computers and manage electronic waste, where you can donate stuffed bears that will go to a good cause, what litter is most commonly found along Toronto waterways and more! 


Costume Swap

Got a used mask, wig or costume? Don't let it go to the landfill by throwing it out. Drop by and exchange your dress-up pieces for a new look for your next costume party. A collaboration between TPL's Environmentalist in Residence and Richview Branch's Artist in the Library. 

Upcycle Costumes

Need some finishing touches for your Halloween costume? We’ll lend a hand to hem, pin or alter your costume for the perfect fit. We’re also happy to help give you ideas on how to accessorize your outfit with items you already own. A collaboration between TPL's Environmentalist in Residence and Richview Branch's Artist in the Library. 

DIY Oat Milk

Learn how to make organic oat milk – stress-free (only two ingredients), package-free and lactose-free! 


Safe, Convenient and Low Waste Period 

Learn about environmentally-friendly alternatives to disposable menstrual products.