Lily Eckoff

lily eckoffLily Eckoff is a third-year Environmental Science major from Denver, Colorado. During the 2022-2023 school year, she is leading Green Love, the Associated Students Sustainability Commission. In this role, Lily serves as a liaison between students and administrators at SDSU to encourage green initiatives, projects, and events. She also oversees Green Love’s five committees: zero waste, gardening, environmental justice, events, and outreach. Read this spotlight to learn about Lily’s sustainability origin story, favorite aspects of Green Love, and advice for college students.

What is your sustainability origin story?

“I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. It is a very beautiful state with so many different types of ecosystems including lakes, rivers, mountains, plains, grasslands, and sand dunes. At a very young age, I was brought up with the idea of taking care of the planet. I was surrounded by nature and its importance was constantly being emphasized to me. In addition, I went to an expeditionary learning elementary school. This is a school that focuses on hands-on learning, heavily influenced by nature and its systems. This required me to establish a relationship with the Earth and to be part of the Earth’s ecosystems, learning from it and not just seeing it as a resource. I learned how to put up a tent before I knew the ABCs very well!”

“In middle school, I was home with a cold one day and I fell deep into the vegan side of YouTube and Netflix. I watched documentaries like Cowspiracy and it really brought to attention the crisis that we are in. When I was little, I was raised with an appreciation for nature but I didn’t know the urgency of the state that we are in currently. My learning process about environmental issues began in middle school. It infuriated me and I felt like it was hidden information that I had stumbled upon. It didn’t feel like it was out in the open. It made me feel like we need to be doing something now and made me wonder what I can do on a large scale. I went to my middle school library and for the first time was checking out non-fiction books about environmental justice, the agriculture industry, and more. I went vegan when I was 13 and I am still vegan to this day!”

What made you decide to run for Green Love Commissioner?

“One of my friends is really involved in Associated Students. She is the Associated Students Rec & Wellness Commissioner and last year, she served as the Rec & Wellness Representative. I didn’t really know much about Associated Students but I wanted to get involved. I started following the Green Love Instagram first, then attended bonding events like the cleanups and bonfires. My friend helped me get involved and sent me a link to the Green Love application.”

What is your favorite aspect of Green Love?

“Green Love is amazing. My favorite aspect would probably be all of the cool people who are in it. I love learning about all of the different reasons that everyone joined, what it is that they are pursuing, and the different approaches they have to sustainability. All of the co-chairs and members are super cool. It’s really interesting to learn about what they are studying and see the passion in their committees. I am just constantly so shocked when we are at meetings and the co-chairs are talking about different projects that they have set up. The gardening committee made beehives last week and the zero-waste committee taught us about Terracycle. People will just do these things out of their heart and you get to be a part of it, which is amazing.”

“My favorite thing about being commissioner is that it has really forced me to be surrounded by sustainability. When I was taking my GE courses, I felt detached from environmental science. I was so out of the loop with sustainable policy and current environmental news. I had to go out of my way to learn about those things. Now, I am in those environmental science courses and Green Love, which immerses me in sustainability through all of the people I interact with, emails I get, and more. So much learning is available now. Green Love has accomplished so many great things and being part of that legacy is super cool.”

How do you think college students can best help the environment?

“College is a great time where you are in a place where you are going out of your way to try new things, explore yourself, and learn. I would say that you should take environmental science, politics, systems, economics courses and take these classes with the lens of how the planet plays a part. Ask yourself, “how does being a part of the planet fit into how I’m living my life?” If you’re taking a sociology class, and you’re critically thinking about how you move based on your identity and the society we live in, and then you add the layer of how you are interacting with the planet and the ecosystems that you are part of. How does sociology fit into the Earth? If you want to learn about how you best can help the environment, create as much intersectionality as possible. Be yourself, learn about yourself, figure out who you are, and then add the Earth into it. It’s a great second lens to look at things through.”

What inspires you to continue doing environmental work?

“All of the progress that has been made with sustainability and the fact that sustainability has become cool is really inspirational to me. In places where people used to roll their eyes and dismiss sustainability, that is starting to change. It used to be viewed as much more impractical and we have made a lot of progress in changing that. Also, as someone who went vegan eight years ago, I have seen the change in peoples’ attitudes when it comes to sustainability topics like a plant-based lifestyle. I get a very different response now than I did eight years ago. Everybody seems to want to incorporate and learn more about it, which is heartwarming and necessary. I look around and I feel like so many people want to do something and are passionate about it. In some of the panels that I sit on with executives at SDSU, I’ve seen them genuinely care about sustainability and be eager to incorporate it into what they do.”