Chase Cockerill

Chase Cockerill Headshot - CopyChase Cockerill | BA in Political Science, Business Minor | Class of 2016

What got you interested in sustainability?

I love being outdoors! I was fortunate enough to grow up surfing, camping, fishing, and hiking frequently so it was at a young age that I appreciated the world’s natural beauty and understood the importance of acting in a sustainable manner so that future generations could enjoy the same activities that I do.

My interest in the sustainability field really ramped up when I was in high school and was asked to lead our school’s recycling club. It was through this club that I learned how a small group of people could implement strategies that significantly enhanced how sustainable a relatively large institution is. Our club organized recycling challenges and raised enough money from turning bottles/cans into recycling centers that we were able to purchase all new recycling bins for the campus that directly increased the percentage of the student population who recycled.

After graduation you took a job at Measurabl, could you talk about what you do at here? 

I work in Business Development at Measurabl so I’m directly responsible for expanding the global market share of our SaaS (software as a service) platform. Measurabl is precision software that allows any organization to collect, act and report on their sustainability data. I have the pleasure of speaking with and educating many individuals at Fortune 500 companies, professional sports organizations, and institutional real estate owners/operators on how they can best accomplish their sustainability goals and initiatives.  

Do you have any particular interests regarding sustainability? (water, energy, building, etc) 

At this point in my career, I have a really broad interest in sustainability, but am working most closely with real estate assets and the utility cost/consumption data associated with their use. My favorite part of my job is that I have the opportunity to work with so many different organizations and each one is looking to enhance their sustainability in a slightly different way. I find a lot of joy in being able to offer creative, technological solutions that meet an organization’s unique needs.

Kol Chaiken

calpirg2.jpgKol Chaiken | Class of 2018 | Environmental Systems – Policy

Could you explain the problem with the way we currently get our energy, and how renewable energy can solve these problems?

The majority of our current energy use comes from fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas. Fossil fuels release greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and methane into our atmosphere which are the primary cause of climate change. Climate change is a huge threat that will continue to get worse in the coming years, and we’re already starting to see some of the impacts including the fires and mudslides in Santa Barbara as well as the hurricanes that devastated the East Coast and Puerto Rico. In addition to climate change, carbon dioxide causes ocean acidification which kills ecologically important marine species like coral. Other impacts of fossil fuels include air and water pollution.The impact of the pollution usually falls on poor communities of color who experience higher rates of pollution-related diseases like asthma.

Switching to Renewable Energy like solar and wind means that fewer greenhouse gases and pollutants will be emitted, helping to curb the impact of climate change and improve overall health.

What is the 100% renewable energy campaign?

The 100% Renewable Energy Campaign is a national campaign run by the Student PIRGs in partnership with Environment California to get campuses to commit to procuring 100% of their electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030 and all energy (including vehicles and heating) by the year 2050. We believe that college campuses as progressive and innovative institutions should lead the way to a renewable energy future. It’s completely doable and it will create a better future for all of us, so why not?

CALPIRG’s Renewable Energy campaign is in a unique position because we have the opportunity right now to advocate for the state of California to commit to 100% renewable electricity by 2045. Last March a bill called SB 100 that would commit California to 100% renewable electricity was introduced in the state senate. I went with 12 other students from UCSD and 60 others from other UCs to Sacramento to advocate for this bill and it passed through the Senate in July! Right now the bill is making it’s way through California Assembly. This bill would be a HUGE step for renewable energy because California is a very influential state and when we make changes the world pays attention. Unfortunately, there are dirty energy lobbyist working to kill this bill so we need all the support we can get.

Our strategy to pass this bill is to convince our CA Assemblymembers that by voting yes on this bill they are helping to create a greener, healthier more meaningful future for young people across California. UCSD students can help out by doing things as simple as stopping to sign a petition with a CALPIRG volunteer, or making a phone call to their Assemblymember. And, if they’re interested in helping even further they can join CALPIRG and come with us to Sacramento to deliver petitions to our representative.

In your opinion, why is sustainability important?

To me sustainability means helping to create a better world than the one you were given by preserving natural resources and creating a healthier environment. As an Environmental Policy major and campaign coordinator for CALPIRG, my role in sustainability is to help implement laws and regulations that break unsustainable norms. CALPIRG’s last big win was passing Prop 67 the plastic bag ban which makes California grocery stores more sustainable by providing incentives for people to bring their own reusable bags. This is important because often times based on the ways our laws, culture and infrastructure is now it’s hard to make sustainable choices, but it’s our job to make sustainability easier for everyone. I like to do little sustainable things each day like separating my compost and bringing it to Roger’s garden at the end of each week.

What other sustainability initiatives are you involved in? 

I’m working on a project with Dr. Jane Teranes from Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the head of the Environmental Systems department to assess UCSD students’ understanding of climate change.

Matt Ellis

Matt Ellis_1MB.jpegMatt Ellis | Measurabl | Class of 2003 | B.A. Economics, Religion

How did you first become interested in sustainability?

I was working in the commercial real estate business at CBRE and the concept of “green building” started coming up routinely. This is in 2008, the start of the recession. I was curious: what made a green building? What was the value to the tenant and landlord? As you can imagine, business was relatively slow so I started looking into “green” during my spare time and found there wasn’t much guidance or literature, particularly in plain English and accessible for brokers like myself. So I started taking what was available and condensing that into a newsletter about “green leasing,” which I shared regularly around the office. That caught on and CBRE encouraged me to learn more about sustainability and then share those lessons with the broader company. The more I learned, the more convinced I became that sustainability was transformative to the way we did business as a real estate services company and the built environment: buildings, infrastructure, cities, and homes. That original interest, and my education in sustainability from there, compelled me to start Measurabl and put effort into sustainability full-time.

Could you talk about what you do at Measurabl and how you help other companies to become more sustainable?

You “can’t manage what you don’t measure,” so Measurabl made it simple to measure what matters – the environmental impact of your organization – using software. Whether you are a commercial building owner, a corporation, a city, or a university, you can easily and cost-effectively collect the data on your environmental performance like utilities and projects, as well as understand how you’re doing relative to peers, which means you are empowered to take action and improve performance.

You noticed that companies had difficulty collecting sustainability data, and you took the initiative and started Measurabl to address this issue. What are some things you learned from this experience of starting your own company?

It’s incredibly rewarding and equally challenging; there were many lessons learned. The main ones are: (1) Build what you believe in foremost, but be willing to hear and apply criticism dispassionately. (2) Have fun. If you aren’t having fun (most of the time) then something is wrong in the organization – your people, product, investors… Find that and fix it, or get out of the business. (3) People are everything and it’s more than just your employees that matter: build and maintain good relationships with your clients, investors, and partners. They will help you more than you realize.

Is there any advice you would like to share with students who are interested in pursuing a career in sustainability or trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle?

#1 thing to know is that sustainability is a real and growing industry; you can build a career in sustainability. #2 is to know that “career” can take many forms beyond the growing ranks of “Director of Sustainability” who occupy the mid or senior executive level at many large organizations. The trick is to recognize the type of role you want by perfecting the skill set you already have. So if you’re an engineer, look at environmental engineering. If you’re in finance, look at green bonds or impact investing. If you’re already employed and a sustainability role doesn’t exist at your company, create it by writing the job definition and listing competitors with that role, then go to your leadership to ask for their sponsorship.

Allyson Long

Allyson Long - Copy.jpgAllyson Long  | Safety Coordinator at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Could you talk about your role as an active member of the Green Labs Team?

I joined the Green Labs Team when I was working with EH&S Research Safety to promote safety in sustainability – to protect both laboratory personnel and the environment. I’ve used my transition to Scripps Institution of Oceanography to encourage SIO labs to become more involved and be leaders in UC sustainability. The Vernet Lab at SIO was the winner of last year’s North American Laboratory Freezer Challenge (NALFC), and there are now 7 SIO labs and 5 SIO offices Green Certified. I love working with a research community that is forward thinking and action driven. Some upcoming projects the GL Team is pursuing are reviving the Chemcycle program, getting more labs to chill their freezers up, and collecting data on lab waste. Any UC San Diego lab is welcome to join the monthly Green Labs meetings just to listen in on or to actively participate in ongoing projects.

What are some sustainable habits for energy use, recycling, and waste management that support sustainability initiatives for UC San Diego?

It’s important to know that we all make trash and consume energy. But we can all certainly make less trash and consume less energy! UC San Diego makes simple acts of sustainability easy: Coffee carts/cafes will give you a discount for bringing your own coffee mug and some places offer reusable mugs (you just have to ask!); Hydration stations are virtually everywhere so there’s no reason to buy disposable plastic water bottles; Dining facilities like Roots offer reusable dishware and post-consumer composting; And every space on campus has recycling bins.

An important and impactful habit is to start becoming disengaged from single use disposable plastics. You can’t avoid every plastic thing, but you can refuse a plastic straw or lid that is handed to you. Consider bringing your own reusable silverware to your next office potluck, or buying a fresh piece of fruit instead of fruit in a plastic container. I bring a basket of reusable mugs and a reusable coffee carafe from an on-campus coffee cart when I host meetings. People still go for the disposable items because it’s what they know or because it’s more convenient, but some of my SIO colleagues now ask to “check out” the basket of reusable mugs for their meetings.  Look at what other spaces are doing around you; I borrowed the reusable mug share program idea from the Sustainability Resource Center located in Price Center.

Know that changes take time and don’t become discouraged or feel guilty when you can’t avoid waste.  Learning new habits and practicing things differently will be hard in the beginning, and certainly not everyone around you is going to embrace sustainability the same way you do. Engage and inform your colleagues by putting up a UC San Diego recycling guide next to your kitchen waste bins or host a Writing Instrument Brigade collection in your office.  Join one of the campus sustainability groups to become connected with others in our community. I’m so glad to be part of both the Staff Sustainability Network and SIO for Sustainability groups because they keep me motivated and remind me that we’re all part of something bigger. Keep things simple and know that little actions lead to big changes.

You established a recycling center at SIO to collect items that can’t be properly recycled in the single stream bins. Could you talk about how you went about doing this and why it’s important to the goal of Zero Waste? 

Diverting waste from landfills is an easy task when it’s convenient, which was my goal. “Universal waste” are items that California prohibits from going into the trash and landfill, but can be recycled. These include batteries, fluorescent lights, and electronics which contain human and environmental hazards like lead, mercury, and cadmium. UC San Diego already has great programs established to collect these types of waste, such as sending batteries for disposal through intra-campus mail or dropping off your used cell phones at the collection point in the Price Center Bookstore. There is also the Writing Instrument Brigade program where you can send in your unused writing instruments (pens, pencils, markers, etc) to be diverted from the landfill and upcycled.

Knowing how to navigate all the information on Blink and knowing where to go on campus to find these services is half the battle, so providing a central recycling collection point for SIO just made sense (even more so considering SIO’s location from main campus).  Recycling is a universally recognizable component of waste minimization and everyone on campus can help divert hazardous materials from being landfilled. Every item diverted from the landfill contributes to the Zero Waste Goal!

Kara Powell


Kara Powell | Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution | Class of 2018

You were the first founder of Sierra Club at UCSD. Could you talk about that experience?

I’ve been involved with the Sierra Club for a long time off-campus, and when I first came to UC San Diego I found it odd that there wasn’t an on-campus chapter. The San Diego Sierra Club was looking to welcome more diversity to their member base, especially younger members. Unfortunately, it is time-consuming to take public transportation to the San Diego Sierra Club Chapter meetings, and most college students are faced with a busy schedule and not owning a car. I decided to rally a few of my dedicated, environmentally-conscious friends to create a Sierra Club Chapter on campus that could connect the students at UC San Diego to the campaigns that the San Diego Chapter works on. Our main focus as we gain momentum as a club is trying to establish Community Choice Energy. This is a campaign that the Student Sustainability Collective has also been involved in, and it is a great opportunity for students to gain experience participating in political discussions and processes. We have organized public meetings with San Diego Councilmembers that were meant to inform both the council and the public about the harm caused by an electrical provider monopoly, which is what currently exists with SDG&ESEMPRA, the corporation behind SDG&E, has the power to control prices of our energy and decide where the energy comes from, often supporting fossil fuel use when renewable technology is ready for us to take advantage of. Community Choice Energy seeks to place that decisive power in the hands of elected city officials, who are more likely to listen to the people of San Diego, instead of corporate executives. In the future, I hope to expand the club and continue to regularly hold nature outings in order to provide students with the opportunity to experience the outdoors if they otherwise are unable to.

This campaign has been an amazing experience, and it has taught us about the way the government is run in San Diego and the influence that a group of people can have if they educate and organize themselves to take action. Especially in the wake of Trump’s election, it has inspired students to be more involved and to voice their opinions on political issues. It has shown them that making a difference is possible and given us hope that we can change the status quo.

As I was working for the Sierra Club, I continued to stay involved in several other sustainability organizations on campus. It is common for multiple groups to have similar interests and goals, and I was involved in trying to organize clubs into cooperative events and campaigns. The Inter-Sustainability Council at UC San Diego is a great resource for people involved in sustainability. I attended their meetings and was able to connect members from CALPIRG, who were running a “Save the Bees” campaign, to members of Roger’s Garden in Revelle College. Roger’s Garden needed help maintaining their native plant garden, and was hoping to develop it into an educational resource for people to learn more about drought-tolerant landscaping and native pollinator sanctuaries. Every week members from the Sierra Club, CALPIRG, and Roger’s would meet up and collaborate on this project. I enjoy staying involved with multiple clubs on campus so I can continue to meet new people and create collaborations like the Native Plant Garden at Roger’s. Working together is important for any movement, especially for sustainability.

Could you talk about your work at the Ruth Bancroft Garden and how drought-tolerant gardening practices are implemented?

I’ve been involved with sustainability since high school, when my part-time job was at the Ruth Bancroft Garden. Ruth Bancroft was a cacti and succulent enthusiast with a large amount of land. She created a beautiful collection of these plants and opened it to the public. The Garden uses the landscaping to teach visitors about the importance of water conservation and habitat protection. Frequent workshops are held that show participants how to turn their stereotypical, water-sucking, ecologically useless American lawn into a diverse array of drought-tolerant native plants that support wildlife and save on water bills. There are many ways to make your lawn more sustainable, especially by establishing native plants. Plants native to California are already adapted to a lack of water, and they are able to consume less water than grass and still be aesthetically pleasing. Native plants are also already a part of the local ecosystem, and they provide food and shelter for wildlife that typical lawn grass cannot. If the majority of suburban households replaced their lawns with drought-tolerant native landscaping, it would create a network of habitat fragments that could support populations of wildlife that provide us with useful services (such as crop pollination). The experience of working at the garden inspired me to learn more ways that I could make a difference and eventually led me to become an Ecology major at UC San Diego.

I was particularly interested in the protection of native wildlife, and during my time at UC San Diego, I started to focus on native pollinators and the important services they provide us. I began working in the Holway lab during my first year, studying the effects of habitat fragmentation on pollinator abundance and efficiency (a project led by James Hung). My work on plant-pollinator interactions continued through my time at UC San Diego.

What did you do while working at the San Diego Zoo Institute For Conservation Research and could you talk about the importance of conservation/ methods used to help endangered species?

In the summer of 2017, I received a fellowship to conduct research at the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research. The San Diego Zoo emphasizes the importance of conservation through habitat protection and endangered species protection, and the Institute is heavily involved in conservation research and education. I worked with the Plant Conservation team and the Center for Plant Conservation Research to develop a shiny app that focuses on plant-pollinator interactions. Pollination is an important ecosystem service, providing one out of every three bites of food that we consume. Native pollinators are also vital components of ecosystems, allowing plant diversity to flourish and support the food chain. The shiny app that I developed with the help of Katherine Heineman analyzes these plant-pollinator interactions and educates site visitors about pollinator conservation. I had an amazing experience at the San Diego Zoo and I gained many skills that have helped me in my later projects.


Christy Schlutius

Christy Schlutius | Food Recovery NetworkEcoNauts |Class of 2020 |Major: Environmental systems: ecology, behavior, & evolution / Minor: Education studies

In your opinion, why is sustainability important and what are some of the aspects of sustainability that you are most interested in?

I think sustainability should be an integral aspect of our lives simply because the availability of resources depends on it. I’m a firm believer that we all share a responsibility in being stewards of the environment and implementing better practices into our lives to help alleviate anthropogenic stress on the environment. Many aspects of sustainability interest me, but I am most passionate about food waste. There is an increasing dialogue about food production and consumption, both of which concern environmental health, but I think food waste naturally comes as an afterthought even though it too can have detrimental environmental effects. However, what is exciting to me about food waste is that there are many different solutions, from source reduction to recovery to compost, that all have the capacity to have great positive impacts on the environment.

Could you talk about the problems of food waste/ food insecurity and how Food Recovery Network (FRN) helps solve it?

Food is wasted at all levels of food production on a global scale, but Food Recovery Network works to eliminate food waste at the pre-consumer level. On campus, this refers to food prepared at dining halls that did not get served or food prepared by vendors at the Farmer’s Market that did not get sold. Without a recovery program in place, this food is typically thrown out at the end of the day unless it can be repurposed into a meal the next day. However, the majority of the food thrown out is still perfectly good for human consumption, but perhaps does not meet the chef’s standards to cook with. Our chapter of Food Recovery Network has established relationships with Housing*Dining*Hospitality (HDH) and the Faculty Club, as well as the Farmer’s Market vendors, so that we can instead recover that food before it goes into the waste stream. It is important to recover food before it goes into the waste stream because if it ends up in the landfill it produces methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and even if it is composted all of the energy that went into growing, packaging, and transporting the food was used for no reason.

The second part of FRN’s mission is to link the problem of food waste to a solution for food insecurity. With this recovered food, we are able to provide resources to the food insecure community of San Diego. Food insecurity affects 12% of the population of San Diego County as well as many students on campus. Since our start, FRN has partnered with Urban Street Angels, a transitional youth homeless shelter in North Park that provides emergency overnight shelters for people ages 18 to 25. By delivering food recovered from the dining halls, Faculty Club, and Farmer’s Market, we provide roughly 150 meals per week for the homeless youth community at USA. Starting this quarter, we will also be able to provide meals for students with food from the Farmer’s Market and Faculty Club. These meals will go to students facing food insecurity who may or may not qualify for CalFresh or other food assistance programs.

What do you do as an EcoNaut and what are some things you hope to accomplish through this role? 

As an EcoNaut, I work with resident advisors (RAs) to help educate residents about campus sustainability efforts and how they can incorporate sustainability into their lives in ways they perhaps had not thought of before. My goal in talking to residents is to show them concrete steps they can take to help solve different environmental issues. The programming that the EcoNauts bring to RA events is great in that it informs residents of a variety of issues facing the environment in an interactive, informal setting, but I know that learning about these problems can sometimes feel overwhelming and hopeless. To me, the most important part of our programming is ensuring that when residents leave an event they feel like they have new knowledge and tools to help fix a problem rather than feeling doomed now that they know more about it.

Colin Moynihan

Colin Moynihan1.jpgColin Moynihan | HDH Sustainability Manager|Class of 2015 | B.S. Environmental Engineering

How did you first become involved with the EcoNauts and could you talk about what you did as an EcoNaut? 

I first became involved with the EcoNauts in the summer of 2012, when I was hired by Krista Mays. As an EcoNaut, I created programs and worked on projects to promote sustainability and living green on campus. I worked closely with the other EcoNauts to plan events, educate UC San Diego students about sustainability, perform waste audits, and implement various other programs to make Housing*Dining*Hospitality (HDH )and UC San Diego more sustainable. I particularly enjoyed the creativity that this position called for because it required that I think outside the box, and it helped my passion for sustainability grow!

Could you please talk about what you do as the Sustainability Manager in HDH?

As Sustainability Manager for HDH, it is my overall role to foster a culture of sustainability among students and staff. In order to do this, I have my hands in many different things. I manage and support the EcoNauts with their projects and events. Since they are HDH’s student sustainability advocates, it is important to make sure they have the tools they need to engage, educate, and inspire residents on a peer to peer level. I also review HDH’s programs and operations and suggest various sustainability improvements to help us achieve our many sustainability goals, such as Zero Waste by 2020. Such improvements range from waste management, to sustainable food procurement, to our back-of-house food scrap composting program.

My other responsibilities include collaborating with other areas and campus departments on projects such as UC San Diego’s zero waste plan and the UC Office of the President’s Annual Sustainability Report, advising the sustainability efforts of new building projects, and reviewing Green Grant applications, just to name a few more.

What are some of the sustainable practices that are currently being implemented or you hope to see implemented in the future in housing and dining facilities on campus? 

I am working on a pilot program to re-introduce post-consumer food scrap collection and composting in the HDH dining facilities. We’ve struggled with contamination of non-compostable items for many years, and have had a challenging time implementing a successful program. I am taking a different approach to capture this difficult waste stream, and am excited to see how well it performs. It is planned to be rolled-out this Winter Quarter, so keep an eye out for it!

In the future, I hope to see even greater sustainability innovations in future HDH buildings. With our various campus sustainability goals, such as zero waste and climate neutrality, fast approaching, it is important that we start designing our new building projects with the mindset that these goals have been achieved. Our next development, the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood, is planned to be cutting edge, but it is only the tip of the iceberg of what is ultimately possible in sustainable buildings. Designing with these goals in mind will push us to think more creatively about how to solve the challenges we are facing today.

What is your graduation year, major(s)/minor(s)

I graduated in early 2015, with a BS in Environmental Engineering. I ended my undergraduate career as a researcher at Osaka University, Japan, studying energy engineering. Upon my return, I took a position as a Project Engineer at a mechanical design and consulting firm in San Diego, where I designed HVAC systems for commercial buildings, including some of UC San Diego’s buildings. After a couple years I decided to make a transition to focus on my passion of sustainability, and I accepted the position as HDH Sustainability Manager. I’ve been on board since May of 2017, and have been especially enjoying the creativity and variety of work that this position allows. I am looking forward to contributing more to the sustainability of HDH, and UC San Diego overall!

Natalia King

natalia king.jpgNatalia King | Class of 2017 | Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution Major

As president of Sierra Club, what are some things you hope to accomplish/see happen with the club in the future?

Over the past year, one of the main focuses of Sierra Club at UCSD has been working collaboratively with Sierra Club San Diego on the My Generation Campaign. My Generation is a campaign that is working towards powering California with 100% clean energy by organizing communities across the state to demand local clean energy as a way to improve air quality, create jobs, and take action against climate change. Here in San Diego we have been working towards this goal in the form of a local political campaign, Community Choice Energy (CCE). CCE is a community choice program that would allow elected city officials to vote on what source San Diego residents and businesses would get their energy and how much they pay for it; if implemented, it could offer more renewable energy and lower rates than SDG&E, the region’s power monopoly.

Educating our communities about CCE and organizing meetings with our local Council-members and Mayor Faulconer hasn’t always been an easy ride, but it’s one that our club members feel strongly about. We, along with many other San Diego constituents, believe that CCE is the best and most efficient move we could make as a city in bringing our region to achieve its 100% renewable energy goal by 2035. It’s been an honor to have been a part of the team that has worked so hard to help progress this campaign. Going forward, I hope that the Sierra Club at UCSD team members continue their hard work on this campaign and that, before long, our coalition succeeds in bringing clean energy to San Diego and all its residents.

Why is sustainability important to you and what are some aspects of sustainability you are most interested in?

I first became interested in sustainability in 2013, during California’s most recent major drought. As a biology major attending community college in the Bay Area, I was shocked when I first heard about the drought – not through my biology courses and discussions nor through other community members, but instead from an electronic traffic sign on the freeway along my commute that pleaded “SERIOUS DROUGHT, PLEASE SAVE WATER”. After seeing that sign I became obsessed with learning all I could about the drought, and this obsession led me to my first sustainability passion – water conservation. Since then, I have remained dedicated to the conservation of water and community education on the matter.

After transferring to UCSD, my passion for sustainability really took off thanks to being introduced to the sustainability community, Sustainability Resource Center, and especially thanks to Jen Bowser. At the 2016 UCSD Sustainability Awards hosted by Jen, I had my first real glimpse into a world of sustainably-minded individuals like I’d never seen and I was blown away; finally, it felt like I had found my people! Since then, I have continued my education of sustainability through personal research, local and UCSD organizations, and the many projects that I have been a part of. Today, my main focuses in sustainability pertain to climate change, the journey to zero waste, water conservation, educating my communities, and empowering my fellow earthlings to create and live more sustainable lives of their own.

To me, sustainability is important because without it there is no happy future for us and the future generations of this planet. We need to learn to better coexist with our earth instead of using up all its resources and giving nothing back in return. Instead of leaving too much power in the hand of economics, we must find and fight for the ways that we can maintain a fair balance between economics, environment, and equity.

What are some easy ways that people can be more sustainable in their everyday lives?

One thing that people can do is to work on decreasing their dependence on wasteful single-use plastics by instead opting for reusable products. Easy ways to do this include bringing your own water bottle, thermos, reusable bags, straw, and even cutlery when you leave the house. I find it makes it easier for people to do this if they plan ahead and leave things in places they know they’ll need them! For instance, I carry a cool 3-in-1 stainless steel utensil in my backpack and I leave reusable shopping bags and some tupperware in my car so that when I go out to shop or eat, it’s one less thing I need to remember!

Another tip I’d suggest expands upon the idea of “reduce, reuse, recycle” to include other R’s, such as “refuse” and “rot” (or compost) whenever you can. Refusing can be as easy as asking for “a water with no straw, please” or letting the host at your favorite restaurant know that you don’t need a bag or cutlery for your to-go food!

Additionally, I always encourage people to ask questions, do more research, and take it a step at a time. There’s a lot of ways to work towards sustainability and it can be seem over-whelming if you try to change every aspect of your life all at once. Instead, focus on one or two things at a time, and then expand from there! Sustainability may be a spectrum, but so long as you’re actively working towards leading a more sustainable life – even in the form of baby steps – I think you can be proud of that! On top of that, don’t let sustainability be a taboo topic! Talk to and educate your friends, your family, your neighbors, and even the waiters that sometimes look at you confused when you pull out your bamboo straw or own utensils.

What other sustainability orgs have you been involved with?

In addition to Sierra Club I have been directly involved with one other sustainability focused organization – the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative (CNI)’s Sustainability Ambassadors. Having been accepted into the year-long program with 11 other Ambassadors, I took on a role as one of UCSD’s Climate Change Ambassadors. We met weekly to learn about different fields of sustainability from working experts and used our gained knowledge to create engaging sustainability-focused programs, such as the series of programs we titled “Climate Change: A Culture Change”. The Ambassador program was one that I’ll forever be glad to have been a part of, as not only did it do so much to teach me more about so many aspects of sustainability, but it also worked as a “teach the teachers” program that really gave me the tools and training to best go out and effectively share these ideas with my community members.

Aside from working directly with Sierra Club and the Ambassadors, I have worked to bring aspects of sustainability to every opportunity that I can. As a Resident Assistant (RA) in the Village a majority of my programs focused on sustainability opportunities and I whenever I could collaborate with the Econauts on events, I made sure to. Two other RAs and I also collaborated on a “Village Goes Green” recycling campaign and hosted recycling parties in which people could come get rid of their recyclables that needed special handling while engaging in “Recycling Jeopardy” with the Econauts.

Today, my main sustainability focus is in working with the awesome start-up founded by Michael Mnatsakanian, SustainaBinity. Together, we work to simplify the process of beginning and maintaining sustainable lives by supporting and inspiring individuals and communities to bring the best zero-waste, sustainable products and practices into their daily lives while eliminating their dependence on single-use plastics and products. To achieve this, we work on two main goals: empowering, educating, and inspiring those on their zero-waste journey by offering ethically-sourced, high-quality sustainable products, and also providing consulting services to create customized solutions to environmental problems by integrating sustainable practices into homes, businesses, and communities. Most recently, we worked with RIMAC Sports Facilities at UCSD in conducting an initial waste audit to aid the university in working towards their zero waste by 2020 goal. The audit may have been a lot of work, but it was so fulfilling to work with our university on such an important goal! Now that the first phase of the project (waste auditing, baselining, reporting, and recommendations) has been completed, we are gearing up for phase two (waste auditing, tracking progress, determining realistic waste diversion goals, and training their staff to conduct waste audits).