Bethany Downer, 2016 Finalist

BETHANY DOWNER
AGE: 22
HOMETOWN: St. John’s, NL

Bethany’s passion for the environment goes beyond our planet. The connections between environmental issues and Bethany’s interest in space continue to grow as she works toward her dream of becoming an astronaut.

Commander Chris Hadfield has had an impact on many Canadians, but few get the chance to have a private conversation with him. Bethany was given this opportunity and used his advice to launch a campaign to address her community’s excess shoe problem. As soon as she got home from meeting Hadfield, Bethany began to shape and plan her vision for One Step Shoe Recycling.

Bethany has used her experience with Hadfield to make an impressive impact on her community and beyond. One Step Shoe Recycling has seen more than 13,000 shoes redistributed across Canada, and more than 14,000 pounds of physical waste diverted from landfills. Bethany attests that you never know where you will find your spark or motivation to create change. Although she gives credit to Hadfield, it is clear that Bethany’s motivation and drive for change is pulsing on its own.

One Step Shoe Recycling assisted in delivering more than 1,000 pairs of shoes to a rural town in Zimbabwe and provided unwanted footwear from workers in Newfoundland and Labrador to the village’s hospital workers.

One Step Shoe Recycling assisted in delivering more than 1,000 pairs of shoes to a rural town in Zimbabwe and provided unwanted footwear from workers in Newfoundland and Labrador to the village’s hospital workers.

Since Bethany’s Top 25 nomination in 2015, One Step Shoe Recycling has grown exponentially. With multiple national partners and a donation network comprised of more than 15 countries, this non-profit organization has brought in over 13,500 shoes since its founding in 2014. Talk about reducing, reusing, and recycling!

Bethany’s work also emphasizes the importance of community betterment. Values of sustainability and community development have become closely linked for One Step Shoe Recycling. The organization has organized shoe drives to donate footwear to new families moving to Canada. These community based values stretch from her hometown of St. John’s Newfoundland to areas all over the world.

Through her work, Bethany has helped those far removed geographically while diverting more than 14,000 pounds of waste from landfills across Canada. Her ability to simultaneously make change on a global and local scale rightfully finds her a place in our Top 25 again this year.

You may have drawn your motivation from Hadfield, but we think youth across Canada will be inspired by you, Bethany!


HIGHLIGHTS

  • Bethany’s efforts extend past collecting shoes to also educating people about sustainability. She delivers lectures, workshops, and seminars to various age groups across Newfoundland and Labrador to share the story of One Step Shoe Recycling and provide insight on what it means to live sustainably.
  • Since beginning her public speaking initiatives in 2015, Bethany has spoken to more than 4,000 youth across Newfoundland and Labrador. Doing so helps to educate communities on how collaborative effort can drive sustainable practices and how environmentalism can be applied to today’s consumerist culture.
  • One Step Shoe Recycling assisted in delivering more than 1,000 pairs of shoes to a rural town in Zimbabwe and provided unwanted footwear from workers in Newfoundland and Labrador to the village’s hospital workers.


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