June 28, 2016 | by Madeline Fischer
A new summer means a new team of Office of Sustainability interns. From sophomores to seniors, this group of talented undergraduates brings a diverse range of experiences and majors to their efforts to improve campus sustainability.
This summer, the students are working on focused sustainability projects with partners across campus, including University Housing, the Wisconsin Union, the Morgridge Center for Public Service and Campus Renovation Services.
Anna, Maria, and Madeline are working with a team from University Housing to ensure the success of Moving Days, the annual event that helps keep usable items out of the landfill during the mid-August moving period. They are also preparing sustainability initiatives for incoming students who will live in the residence halls. Madeline doubles as the communications intern, running the office’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts and putting together the sustainability newsletter.
“I believe sustainability is a combination of knowledge, actions, and carefulness that can be incorporated into our day-to-day activities and thoughts.”
“If I could change one thing in the world, it would be how people talk about sustainability. Rather than it being a politicized topic, I would make it be one that is normalized in day-to-day conversation, as well as being something that is synonymous with convenience.”
“Sustainability means respecting both people and the environment – understanding that we share natural resources with every other organism on this planet and must do so equitably. Sustainability means thinking about the not only the people and environment of today, but also the people and environment of tomorrow. By being aware that we are just one small part of a very big system (the earth), we can better understand the impact of our actions.”
Rita and Dakota are stationed at Union South this summer, where they are using sustainability guidelines from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) to improve business processes in Union restaurants. They are also researching sustainable food packaging options for use at both Memorial Union and Union South.
“To me, sustainability is the largest issue of our time. It can not be ignored, and will eventually effect everyone. It is also such an easy issue to get behind, anyone who’s spent time in nature knows how peaceful it is, and will hopefully want to do something to protect it.”
“If I could change one thing in the world it would be to increase the respect, love, and empath we all have towards each other, other beings, and our planet. If we all cared a bit more about things besides ourselves, I believe we could create a fair, sustainable world.”
Gillian and Erin are working to make the Morgridge Center more sustainable in all of its operations through participation in Sustain Dane’s MPower program. Some of their projects include trash audits to understand office waste and exploring alternate transportation options for the center’s popular Badger Volunteers program.
“If I could change something in the world, I would change the negative messaging around sustainability. Oftentimes, environmental sustainability messages have a “doomsday” theme which focus solely on how we have messed up our world. Instead of these messages, I would like to change the focus to positive sustainable solutions, highlighting sustainable champions who have made the world a better place instead of focusing on the problem.”
“If I could change one thing in the world, I would advance every person’s right and access to an adequate education. Education empowers individuals to become rational citizens, skilled employees, better parents and mentors, and change-makers, which makes for a healthier and more prosperous planet.”
This summer, AJ and Brenna are working with Campus Renovation Services, located within Facilities Planning and Management, to develop sustainable construction standards, identify sustainable materials criteria, and update product literature.
“If I could change one thing in the world, I would instill a greater sense of empathy within people. I think many of our problems could be solved if people had the ability to truly step into another person’s shoes and experience the world from their perspective.”
“To me, sustainability is about making the small, everyday efforts to reduce my impact on the world. It means understanding that all the small decisions we make in our daily lives have a large, collective effect on the whole planet.”