What does sustainability mean to you?
This is a word that gets thrown around a lot. For me, sustainability is about staying productive and efficient while maintaining a focus on green/eco-friendly practices. I think of myself as a realist, and I know it’s often very hard to have zero impact on the environments we occupy for work, living, etc. Sustainability is an effort to consciously minimize wasteful habits, simplify the ways we consume and protect the resources we have left.
What are you doing to help UB become more sustainable?
For almost three years I have worked as a student sustainability coordinator for UB Campus Dining & Shops (CDS). That title sounds fancy as I type it out, but what I do is really quite simple. I serve as a voice for both CDS and the students we serve. When we have a project we’re excited about, I share our ideas/initiatives with students in a number of different on-campus settings. On the other hand, I am always asking for student input about our sustainability initiatives and projects. It’s important that the people we serve have a chance to share their support and criticism of the work we do.
How do you involve UB’s faculty or staff in your sustainability work?
Again, my work requires me to listen to other peoples’ opinions all the time, which I am happy to do! I love hearing ideas about how CDS can continue to grow as a nationwide leader in sustainability for college dining services. I have a number of working relationships with faculty, staff and students at UB that have allowed me to enjoy giving guided tours of Crossroads Culinary Center (C3) for nutrition classes, working directly with employees who handle CDS’ composting, several collaborative Earth Week projects, and a number of other communal, group sustainability projects.
How has sustainability impacted your academic pursuits?
Networking. This job has allowed me to meet and work with amazing people at UB that I would have otherwise never known. I have to give a shout out here to Shivani Kamodia, my co-sustainability coordinator. Shivani joined us this year at CDS and her contributions have made the work we do significantly better and more engaged with a broader UB audience. Meeting people who really care about sustainability has changed the way I think about my role as a member of the UB community. While I’m here I want to make an impact that will leave UB a better place for future students to enjoy when I’m gone. That desire branches out into all of the work I do, from pestering my roommates about the importance of recycling to the work I do with CDS and in the classroom.
What is the one thing you would like people to know that you do in your personal life to further sustainability?
Well, the most important, everyday item in my arsenal is my reusable water bottle… THIS IS A MUST! It’s actually so basic (seriously, if you don’t have one you need to get on that for both style points and a clear conscience) I’ll give you something better: I think about it. The most important thing you can do to practice sustainability is keep it in mind. It’s so easy to forget the little things that make a difference, so I leave notes to recycle, not waste food, etc. in my apartment for both my roommates and myself. Guilt is a powerful tool. I encourage people to think more about sustainability so that the practices of a living a more sustainable life become habit.
How could UB improve its sustainability efforts?
I’d like to see more students carrying reusable water bottles. If the university could organize a campaign encouraging students to use them, I think that would really help. I’m repeating myself here, but this is just essential to me. There are refillable water bottle stations across campus and each bottle saved makes a difference.