Hillary currently lives and works in Toronto with her guide dog, Margarita. She has a BA in Global Studies with Minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Arabic, and she recently completed an MA in Religion, Culture, and Global Justice. After suddenly and unexpectedly losing her vision in 2016, Hillary quickly involved herself in numerous initiatives and communities that are committed to expanding opportunities and rights for persons with disabilities. In addition to the her work with STIL, she is also currently working with other female athletes with vision loss to develop Canada’s first women’s blind hockey and blind football teams.
Sustainability is everyone's responsibility. At STIL, they look to bridge the gap between sustainability and accessibility, thereby enabling all community members, regardless of ability, to be stewards of the local and global environments. They do this by providing businesses, institutions, and communities with the WasteFinder. The WasteFinder is a two-part system that provides both tactile and visual information to assist individuals with vision loss, and all individuals, to independently dispose of their waste in public. The WasteFinder is placed on the ground and is meant to alert those who pass over it that they are in the vicinity of a waste container.
The WasteFinder benefits the environment and addresses the impacts of climate change because it makes the process of waste disposal more accessible and inclusive. Communities that implement the WasteFinder can expect a reduction in the amount of litter, as the process for finding waste units will be clearer and more accessible. They can also expect the diversion of waste from landfills, as the process for sorting waste into the appropriate waste streams will be clear and standardized, thereby reducing contamination.
Hillary’s motivation to create STIL started about a year after she lost her vision. She was becoming increasingly frustrated with the inaccessibility of the built environment and of her inability to participate in seemingly simple tasks, such as proper waste disposal.
After conducting some preliminary research on the topic of accessible waste disposal, she quickly learned that it was a topic that had not been previously addressed within either the sustainability community or the disability community. As such, she decided to create her own solution to this common problem.
To do this, she held a series of design labs with various stakeholders including individuals with vision loss, custodial staff, environmental activists, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and a manufacturer of waste containers.
MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO CREATING A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET
Hillary and STIL are committed to co-creating a planet that recognizes and incorporates the diverse needs of individuals with disabilities in sustainability planning and initiatives. She believes that everyone, regardless of ability, has a shared responsibility to make the planet more sustainable, and she looks forward to spearheading this grassroots movement with other leaders.