Alice with the UofT Trash Team!
Alice at Clean up the Don 2018
Alice and Wing Wo (co-organizers) at the Federal Pre-Election Town Hall on Climate Change 2015. From left to right: Alice, moderator Dr. Nelson Wiseman, John McKay, Elizabeth May, Matthew Kellway, and Wing.
Alice and Amanda (co-Chairs of the Environment Committee at Massey College) with guests of the documentary 'Circle of Steel' about a female engineering being laid off in Alberta's oil sands - a meaningful and engaging discussion of the environment, economics, and stereotypes - I for one learned *so* much about the difficulties and reality of working remotely as a female engineer! From left to right: Amanda Loder (co-Chair), Gillian McKercher (director), Alice Zhu (co-Chair), and Chantelle Han (lead actress). Massey College, 2019.
Quoting: "On July 20 in Toronto several groups co-hosted a forum on Climate Action: Lobbying, Elections, and Paris COP21. Below from left to right are:
Ellery Fuliere of Toronto350, Lyn Adamson of ClimateFast, Alice Xia Zhu of Climate Impact Network, Cheryl McNamara of Citizens Climate Lobby Toronto, Joy Kennedy of the World Council of Churches, Emmay Mah of Step Up Canada" (from ClimateFast website).
Leadership Roles in the Community
I am a member of the UofT Trash Team, a group dedicated to educating the public about waste management and plastic pollution and taking direct action through community clean-ups. I am also an executive member of People's Climate Movement (PCM), a grassroots organization dedicated to hosting events and campaigning around climate change action in both Toronto and Canada. As part of PCM, I have attended numerous marches on climate change in Toronto, organized initiatives from workshops to town halls to raise awareness of climate change, contributed to Toronto's climate action plan TransformTO, and written several blogs on climate policy.
From 2017 to 2019, I served as co-Chair of Massey College's Environment Committee during my time at Massey College as a Junior Fellow. Our college used to provide take-out dinners in paper plates covered in lots of plastic wrap; however, through our hard work we were able to turn the take-out system into a reusable container system. Besides this main initiative, the Environment Committee also placed recycling posters throughout the college to remind fellows of which products can be recycled, held a screening of a documentary discussing the lives of women impacted by layoffs in Alberta's oil sands, and we hosted trips around Toronto including nature walks in High Park, a tour of Allan Gardens Conservatory, and to the Saturday farmer's market at Evergreen Brickworks. Through my position I learned so much more about environmental campaigning and environmental ethics!
At the end of 2015, I attended the Paris Climate Summit (COP21) as part of a student delegation from the School of Environment, University of Toronto to increase the youth presence at COP and to report back to the student body about the latest updates. An agreement was reached; however, much more work needs to be done to make sure countries continue to increase their starting emission reduction pledges up to levels necessary to avoid severe consequences of climate change (described in the Paris Climate Agreement as the "ratchet mechanism").
I have served as the Sustainability Commissioner of my university's Student's Union from 2015-2017. As the head of the commission, I have held biweekly meetings throughout the year and interacted with students to get a sense of what sustainability projects they would like to see on campus. I have learned so much about delegation of tasks, communication skills, event planning, and overall how to lead a vibrant group of students to accomplish amazing tasks and host numerous successful campaigns and events for our student community.
Examples of past events we hosted include: a climate change rally on Halloween ("Climate change is spooky!") to get students to write to their MPs in 2016, a conference called "What's Next for Canada?" in 2016 to discuss the Paris Climate Summit, a DIY beeswax lotion bar workshop as part of EcoFest 2017, an Eco-Coffee House in 2017... and more!
I also served as the Sustainability Commissioner for the Victoria University Students' Administrative Council (VUSAC) from 2014-2015. My commission helped to organize a pilot composting system in a student residence, a federal pre-election town hall on climate change, and a sustainable fashion show in 2015 where we donated proceeds to support sustainable fashion.
Please see below for a list of all of the organizations I have founded, co-founded, or taken part in throughout my high school and university years.
Current and Previous Organizations, Startups, and Initiatives
Founder or Co-Founder of:
Conference of Parties 21st Session (COP21) University of Toronto Delegation Team 2015-2016
Climate Impact Network (and previously Students' Climate Change Action Network) 2013-2016
Innovamasters Not-for-Profit Organization and cross-University Initiative 2013-2016
HungerSquad International Mobile Application 2014-2015
Wastefree TakeOut Social Enterprise 2013-2015
Also involved with:
Waste literacy and action
UofT Trash Team
Global Leadership Organization - Sustainability Workshops
UofT Sustainable Food Conference
People's Climate Movement
UofT350.org, Fossil Divestment Campaign at UofT
TCAN Steering Community (Toronto Climate Action Network)
Step Up Canada! Initiative
Polanyi Conference on Science and Social Responsibility
MidSummer Night's Run
Harbourfront Summer Festivals
Epilepsy Toronto Holiday Gift Wrapping
Daily Break Food Bank - Annual Holiday Food Bank Organizer in the Scarborough Region
December 6th Initiatives to End Violence Against Women
Master Fine Arts School
Provincial and National-Level Competitive Badminton
Shad Valley International
J'Explore French Immersion Program
My leadership and involvement placed in historical context of the global environmental issues of climate change and plastic pollution
1958 - Keeling Curve showed steady rise in atmospheric CO2 levels
1972 - Plastic on the surface of the Sargasso Sea by Carpenter and Smith, one of the first reports of plastic pollution in the environment
I became heavily involved in climate advocacy with PCM and other local climate groups. Attended COP21 as a student delegate from the University of Toronto to learn about international climate policy and host a conference back home about next steps for climate action in Canada.
1989 - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established under the UN to assess state of climate science
1992 - Rio Earth Summit
1997 - Adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, the first global agreement on climate change
2006 - "An Inconvenient Truth" by Al Gore further raised awareness of the impacts of climate change
2011 - Movement to divest from fossil fuels
2012 - UN Sustainable Development Goals
2015 - Adoption of the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international agreement on climate change
After COP21, I realized a lot of work needed to be done locally to meet Paris targets. I helped contribute to Toronto's climate plan and made a deputation at City Hall to approve the first round of funding for the plan.
2000s-2010s - Increasing awareness of the global pervasiveness of plastic pollution and its potential risks
I started my PhD in 2019. My research focuses on the transport of plastic pollution on a global scale and also has potential to inform policy. By better understanding the sources of plastic, how it moves through the environment, and where it ends up, I hope to inform policy to remediate plastic pollution in the environment and to reduce plastic pollution at its source.
2020-ongoing - Consideration of a global agreement by the UN to significantly reduce emissions of plastic pollution on a country-by-country basis
I wrote a blog on the interconnections between plastic pollution and climate change. I advocate for policies that address the two issues togther. Also, I support the adoption of an international agreement on plastic, where countries submit plastic emission reduction pledges to the UN. I am working on a video series on plastic pollution, and I am always thinking about how environmental issues affect developed and developing countries differently.
I started my MSc in 2017. I collaborated with San Francisco Estuary Institute to assess the state of contamination of San Francisco Bay with microplastics. My research had the potential to inform policy in California related to the regulation of microplastics in drinking water and the labelling of polyester clothing.
2018 - Climate activism by Greta Thunberg and global youth movement (#FridaysForFuture)
I contributed feedback to Toronto's Office of Recovery and Rebuild to ensure a just and equitable transition from COVID-19. I made a deputation to Budget Committee to allocate funding to climate initiatives, and wrote a blog about ramping up climate action in Canada leading up to COP26.
2020-2021 - COVID-19 and COP26 postponed to November, 2021