Aly is a third-year sustainability major who is very involved at SDSU! She has held leadership positions in two green organizations on campus: GreenFest chair and Green Love Representative. Her passion for the Earth and skills in leadership and service shine through in this spotlight article!
Could you tell us about your involvement in green organizations at SDSU?
“Yes! When I came to SDSU, I met the VP of GreenFest. I told her that I was a sustainability major looking to get involved and she introduced me to Associated Students. I sat on the GreenFest committee my freshman year, which was a really cool experience and where I got my start to involvement at SDSU. Also during my freshman year, there was a huge sustainability expo where I learned more about Green Love, E3, and all the different ways to get involved with green orgs. At the end of that year, I ran for GreenFest chair and got the position! Putting on virtual GreenFest programs was a fun experience because I got to find ways to get students involved and engaged. Being in a leadership position in sustainability helped me find my passion for educating others on environmental topics and it encouraged me to learn more. The next year, I decided to run for Green Love Representative. I like being that person that people can look to and feel comfortable talking to about these subjects. Finding out that I got Rep was such a happy moment for me! This year I got to start as Green Love Representative and I’m loving it so far.”
As someone who cares about the environment, what do you do in your day-to-day life that’s different from an average college student?
“One of the day-to-day things that I practice is avoiding animal products. I’ve been vegan for a couple years now and I try to eat as ethically as possible by doing my best to avoid palm oil and cane sugar that isn’t fair trade. When I buy groceries, I look for fair trade stamps. Also with food, I carry around utensils so that I can refuse plastic disposables. I’m always reusing containers and making sure I’m sorting my trash properly. When I go on walks, I like to bring a bag to pick up trash. Also, I do my best to be energy-conscious by turning off lights and unplugging appliances that aren’t in use. I’m a big thrifter! When I go thrifting, I make sure I’m not buying things that I don’t need. I use coconut oil and a washcloth as a makeup remover instead of disposable makeup wipes. It’s something small but it makes me feel better about not using wipes or cotton rounds.”
What are your goals for your sustainability journey and career?
“One of my short-term goals is to start growing my own herbs and food. My long-term goal is to be almost completely self-sustainable. I’m hoping in my future that I’ll be able to produce the majority of my own food. Also, I would love to have my own land and create my own little Earth dome! Career-wise, I’m hoping to be able to work for a lot of non-profits and conservation organizations to really do the nitty-gritty work of sustainability. Moving forward from that, if time permits, I want to go back and get a masters. The dream end goal is to be a sustainability director for a company. You need to have a lot of knowledge and experience to get there so I’m excited to start that process once I get out of school.”
What is your sustainability origin story?
“When I was in high school, I started my animal activism. I realized how much I cared for animals and how horribly we treat them in our systems. It was really heartbreaking to learn so I started making choices upon that and getting involved in that way. Around the time that I was applying to college, I was getting more aware of other issues connected to animal cruelty, one of which was climate change. The anxiety that comes with learning about climate change was really hard for me and I didn’t know what to do about it. I started doing some basic sustainability practices and even though my personal actions were small and individual, I knew that I was still making an impact. The climate crisis is a huge overarching problem that isn’t going to be solved by my actions alone. However, these actions made me feel better and inspired me to help other people learn about the climate crisis and what they can do. A way to find peace with a lot of these environmental issues is to know that you’re doing something about it. When I applied to college, I applied to the environmental science and sustainability programs because I knew that in those fields, I would be doing good, important work that gives back.”
What do you do in times when you are feeling overwhelmed with climate anxiety?
“I take a deep breath first. I ground myself in the present moment and remind myself that this issue was here before I started feeling anxious and it will be here after I’m feeling anxious. Unfortunately, the emotion itself is not helpful to the cause or to me. After that, I look up videos of organizations doing good work. Sometimes I have to remind myself that there are other people out there fighting this fight and that I’m not alone in it. Also, I’ve started realizing that instead of focusing solely on a future of climate disaster, I can focus on a hopeful future and being part of the change it takes it get there.”