Don't Wait Until Tomorrow While It's Still Today

Photo provided by Katelyn Vancouver

Photo provided by Katelyn Vancouver

Samantha Good

Ohio University alumna Katelyn Vancouver left her ecological footprint on Athens with the phrase, “It’s still today.” The phrase inspired her organization, ‘It’s Still Today,’ which serves to promote conscious consumerism throughout the Athens community. Her work to improve Athens by spreading a positive message has influenced the way people think, the way they shop and what motivates them to persevere.

Although Vancouver no longer lives in Athens, her mother, Laurie Vancouver, runs the organization from Athens and sells shirts with her daughter’s message on them. Anyone can purchase a piece of It’s Still Today’s impactful influence at the Athens Farmers Market.

When was your organization started?

It's Still Today started in 2014, when I was working as a photographer for a rafting company. A friend was complaining about her work day and in an effort to redirect attention toward the positive outlook of the evening I reminded her that, "It's still today!" Immediately, the group we were with latched on to it and insisted I make stickers with the phrase.

How has it grown since its start?

For the first year or so of its existence, It's Still Today was just the hundreds of stickers I handed out to friends and stuck on telephone poles and bathroom stalls. Despite encouragement from friends back at OU, I didn't start printing shirts until I decided it would be a great way to fundraise for my hike of the Appalachian Trail.

At that point, my friend agreed to create a design for me and actually spearheaded the relationship It's Still Today had with Paper Circle in Nelsonville, a non-profit organization that prints shirts for a lot of local festivals. Paper Circle taught us how to print the shirts ourselves and later encouraged me to adopt the entire process myself. We now not only create our own designs and print our own shirts, but also burn and maintain our own screens.

On your website, you mention wanting to shift consumerism to be more service-minded and sustainable. What sorts of products should people switch out so they can better help the environment?

[It’s Still Today] pushes to encourage more conscious consumerism: reduce— think about whether or not you really need something; reuse–– buy used things or only buy goods that will last; and recycle–– if you can't avoid a purchase and it cannot be reused, recycle it. If there is something you want to purchase that doesn't fit this cycle, reconsider. Conscious consumption requires some time and research and can vary between lifestyles.

For example, I avoid plastic all together. I keep my glass and use it to buy bulk food and reduce packaging, but not everyone has great access to bulk food sources. If that's the case, I try to purchase food in paper boxes because they can be recycled or composted in a way that doesn't emit as many greenhouse gases as plastic containers.

What organizations do you donate to and how do you choose them?

Due to my being across the country and going through a lot of changes, I haven't done a great job publicizing the relationships we established with Rural Action, Upgrade Ohio and the Athens Conservancy. I personally met and talked with representatives from all three of these organizations and told them that I wanted to give them each 10% of the profits It's Still Today earns this year (2018).

This is another part of our effort to make a more powerful statement about the possibilities of conscious consumerism: look beyond the surface of the businesses you support. Where do they get their materials, and where does their profit go?

For It's Still Today, we are supporting Rural Action's environmental education programs, Upgrade Ohio's public transportation project and the Athens Conservancy's work to protect natural spaces.

I chose these organizations firstly because they were local, and I am a big believer in the small efforts. I believe that environmental education helps young people build a healthy sense of ownership of their environment, that public transportation can make a huge impact on emissions and that maintaining healthy natural spaces increases the health of the Earth and everyone on it.

This next year, I am hoping to keep local profits local [and have] our Athens profits go to Athens non-profits… profits I make here on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington will go to non-profits within the Seattle/Olympic Peninsula region.

Last of all, what does the phrase 'It's Still Today' mean to you?

'It's still today' means whatever it needs to. That's one of the beautiful things about it. I have appreciated the variety of interpretations that I have heard [over] the years. For some, it is a puzzle to solve ("When will it not still be today?"). For others, it is a mantra to get through a project, day or week. For me, it's motivation to get things done. It says, "There is still time in the day. If you're going to do a thing you might as well do it now and do it well."