|This month’s Rockstar is Trudi-Ann Webster, Business Development Manager, who oversees product for Okeanos. Read on to learn about how a fateful visit to the coast at the age of eight put Trudi on a path toward environmentally conscious living, and how a job dealing blackjack on a cruise ship opened her eyes to the plight of the oceans.
Q: Tell us about your childhood. Did you spend a lot of time by the ocean?
A: I grew up in Calgary, Alberta, which is a landlocked province. I did not actually get to see the ocean until I was 8 years old. We visited the Pacific Ocean, off Vancouver Island in Victoria. It was the first time I had seen waves. It ignited my love for the ocean, for sailing and for wandering along the beach. When I was 10, my family drove across Canada and I had the opportunity to see the Atlantic Ocean, and experience how different that was from the Pacific. Up here in Canada, it’s colder, darker, and there are a lot of sharks. More seafood too. It was the first time I was exposed to how overfishing can affect the oceans. Halifax harbor was once very polluted. They have done a lot to clean it up in the past few years. They literally have a vacuum underneath the harbor to collect pollution.
My love affair with the ocean started the minute I saw it and has continued throughout my life. I served as a fishing guide off Alaska, and someone I was guiding, asked if I’d ever been to the Virgin Islands. I hadn’t but was intrigued. I got a job on a cruise ship as a blackjack dealer which allowed me to travel all over the world. I finally made it to Bermuda, fell in love with the islands, and wound up staying for most of my 20’s. It was there that I got to see firsthand what happens when coral reefs die, and it spurred me to remember that we are just walking on the earth – it’ll be here long after we’re gone. So, we must protect it.
Q: You live in Canada – has there been a push for the adoption of more sustainable brands in recent years?
A: Canadians are very environmentally conscious. We are so grateful that we have an abundance of freshwater at our disposal, so we’re naturally very protective of our lakes and rivers. In the last three years, we’ve seen Canada and Canadians make a concentrated push for single-use items with less plastic. Consumers are shopping sustainably, looking for organics, and sustainable packaging. We have a robust recycling system for bottles, cans, and wrappers. It’s a closed loop recycling system that is mandatory in every town and every city.
Q: Has working with Made From Stone made you think twice about sustainability in your daily life? What are your go-to sustainability swaps?
A: Yes, I have. Since I started at Okeanos, I’ve become much more aware of PFAS, and the toxins that end up in our food. It was something I had not really given any thought to before. I assumed that things marked “food safe,” were just that. Safe. It turns out that’s not always the case.
Q: You have a little menagerie there that we hear on our Zoom meetings. Tell us about your animals.
A: I have five cats living with me, and one cockatoo. They’re all strays, and somehow, they all live harmoniously. Smokey, Yoshi, Frisky, Mysti, and Gigi. Mysti and Gigi lived under my porch for the summer, and when fall came, they were still here, so they stayed. Tweety, the cockatiel I inherited from a friend of mine.
Q: How did you get started working in product sales? What led you to Okeanos?
A: I’ve spent my 20+ year career in food and products helping brands. A friend of mine mentioned Okeanos, and thought it was unique. I checked out the website, and thought wow! Okeanos’ mission really resonated with my values. It’s everything I wanted in a company; eco conscious, sustainable, young, progressive, and not stuck in its ways. I asked my friend to connect me to see how I could help, and the rest is history.
Q: What makes Okeanos stand out from the competition?
A: The most compelling part to me is that Okeanos is taking a multi-faceted approach to this problem. We’re not just speaking with our product, but also through our philanthropic efforts. This allows us to make a real, immediate and tangible impact and tackle the problem from all sides.
Q: When you’re not working, where can we find you?
A: In the Summer, on my paddle board, on a lake here in Alberta. In Winter, you find me snowshoeing.
Q: What new hobby or skill did you pick up during quarantine?
A: I took knitting back up, and I learned Qigong, which is a form of ancient meditation. I also learned how to cook Vietnamese food, and how to make gluten free croissants. More recently, this winter I have taken up doing word searches. I challenge myself to find words that are not on the list … as well as the ones they list.
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