Random Acts of Green

Trent University grad Jessica Correa aims to spread the Random Acts of Green brand nationally

Jessica Correa is excited by all the Random Acts of Green she has posted on her company’s Facebook page and Twitter and Instagram accounts, but one stands out.

“We really liked the Ultimate Frisbee group,” Correa say. “They do the carbon flip.”

To explain: Correa, 24, has a master of environmental science degree, with a focus on sustainable development. She also runs a business, Random Acts of Green, dedicated to promoting environmental activities in the community.

The carbon flip is an Ultimate Frisbee staple the local league adopted. Instead of flipping discs to see which team gets the choice of starting on offence or defence they do a car count.

“They encourage everyone in the league to reduce their carbon footprint by carpooling to get to the game or use active transportation,” Correa explains.

The team with the fewest cars in the parking lot wins the “flip.” At the end of the year the team with the most flip points gets a pizza party or a keg party . . . “something fun,” as Correa says.

But the impact of the carbon flip is limited if no one knows about it. Post a high quality video on social media and the word gets around, one more pebble on a growing pile that could draw everyone’s attention to the possibilities of developing a sustainable lifestyle.

That’s what Correa and her team do.

“In our minds, if it’s not seen it’s not green.”

During grad school at Trent University, Correa looked at car sharing and how to market sustainable behaviour to her millennial generation. The focus groups she conducted led to a disheartening conclusion.

“I was frustrated with it,” she recalls. “I found that we’re all going to follow the same old formula: get a job, have a family, get a home, get a car. The same formula as our parents.”

She kept thinking someone should use social media to promote an alternative formula, one that simplified sustainability and brought it into everyday life. Not tree huggers or hippies or protesters, just regular people.

One day last December she had a “eureka” moment.

“I kept waiting for someone else to do it. Someone else should change the perception of environmentalism. And then I was like, ‘No one is! No one will!’ And then I was like, ‘OK, I’ll do it!’” When she is fired up, which is most of the time, Correa speaks in exclamation marks, an energetic bundle of mental activity shooting out sparks of innovation.

She is also very bright and highly focused. She finished her master’s program six months ahead of schedule while turning the Random Acts of Green concept into reality. She was soon snapping photos of people “doing green things” and posting them on social media, developing her “brand.”

Her posts started to draw attention. She was shocked when someone approached her for a quote on a green issue but it also prompted a second eureka moment – maybe she could make money at this.

“I just started dipping my toe in the world of the entrepreneur,” she says. She had no business experience but took “how to” seminars through Peterborough Economic Development and the Peterborough Innovation Cluster.

Now she pitches to clients who hire her to help them develop and popularize green initiatives. She posts video and photos of the events on her three Random Acts of Green social media platforms. Clients can put links to the sites on their own sites.

The City of Peterborough and the Peterborough Petes are among her clients.

Growing the business has been a struggle, she admits, but she’s confident the concept will work. Confident enough that she deferred her acceptance to a PhD program at the University of Waterloo.

Correa hopes to grow Random Acts of Green into “the number one green behaviour promoting brand in Canada.”

If that doesn’t happen, she says, she won’t have lost anything and will have gained an invaluable experience.

That’s a sustainable attitude, in any colour of the spectrum.

This is one of a series of articles commissioned and paid for by Sustainable Peterborough and published in partnership with The Peterborough Examiner. By Jim Hendry, Peterborough Examiner, original article published Saturday, November 12, 2016.