By Meghan Horvath
As undergraduates go forth in their future career paths, The Office of Sustainability raises awareness on sustainability, encouraging students to keep these efforts top of mind as they enter the workplace.
The Office of Sustainability’s mission is to highlight sustainability as an issue that warrants the attention of all majors. It works to show students that they can install sustainable initiatives and spread knowledge of the topic in their respective fields regardless of degree.
Jackie Hazelwood, communication and outreach intern for The Office of Sustainability, is a senior studying Community and Environmental Sociology with an Environmental Studies certificate. In her time working for the office, she can attest to the healthy range of majors that get involved.
“It’s anywhere from Environmental Studies to Business, which is something I like a lot about The Office of Sustainability in general is the diversity,” Hazelwood said. “It’s really necessary; I think what we’re trying to bring to campus is that sustainability can be applied to pretty much any field and can be inputted in your daily life and any job, especially people that are leaving and going into the working world. This is the time for sustainability to be put into place.”
Run by dedicated university faculty, staff and student interns, The Office of Sustainability is the lead resource for sustainability efforts on campus. Since it started in 2010, its team continues to promote education and best practices to make sustainability a greater part of campus culture.
Brenna George, student leader and student programs coordinator with The Office of Sustainability, is earning her degree in Environmental Studies, as well as Operations and Technology Management in the business school. She intends to pair sustainability with business in her future career path.
“My sophomore year I worked with a professor in business and sustainability and he encouraged me to apply for a leadership position with the office,” George said.
Within the office, she’s worked specifically with the Sustain-A-Bash event, which is designed for freshman engagement in sustainability, as well as the sustainable Wisconsin Welcome that shares a similar goal of reaching new students as they arrive on campus.
With eight interns, two supervisors and two full-time employees, The Office of Sustainability primarily works in conjunction with other local, environmentally-focused groups.
“The Office does a lot of partnerships to help other sustainability initiatives on campus. When there’s a void, we’ll fill it, which is how Sustain-A-Bash and the ABCs of waste were developed,” George said.
As part of the ABCs of waste program, interns weigh trash bags around campus buildings as a form of trash auditing to account for waste.
“We did trash audits in housing this October and found that 37 percent of the trash was compostable,” George said. “Food waste is super heavy and we have to pay to send it to the landfill.”
On top of current initiatives like Sustain-A-Bash, sustainable Wisconsin Welcome and trash auditing, The Office of Sustainability is also looking to expand its mission to be an even greater resource to students.
“We’re trying to work more towards a consultant and partnership model,” Hazelwood said. “We’ve worked with housing a lot in the past and We Conserve. We are a resource to students. In the future, we’re definitely moving towards more group interaction and brainstorming.”
With the combination of its sustainability programs and its partnerships, The Office of Sustainability serves as an outlet for students to pursue their passion and make a difference in sustainability efforts.
“Coming from San Fran, I think I came into this university with a very environmentally conscious interest,” Hazelwood said. “I really wanted to get involved in some capacity in that and put to practice what I was learning. This gave me a resource to do that and try to make a difference on campus in any way we could.”