Sustainability Talk: Interviews with UB Students

Awareness is the first step in being able to promote change.

Without being aware of an issue in its scope, we can never hope to make a positive impact to alleviate the problem.

This is why integrating sustainability curriculum into higher education is so critical. The millennial generation and those that follow will be left responsible for making the decisions that affect our planet’s well-being.

We must create a well educated, sustainability task force that graduates from universities and goes out into the world with the knowledge to make a difference. Sustainable practices are expansive and all-inclusive – therefore, integrating knowledge of sustainability and environmental issues must be a priority for all majors, minors and degree programs.

With this in mind, our Humans for a Sustainable Future team went out to interview students at the University at Buffalo to test their understanding of sustainability and environmental issues.

We interviewed ten randomly selected students from different degree programs and different age levels at UB. Their responses can’t be said to reflect the entire UB student body, but they do give great insight into where we stand in terms of integrating sustainability into higher education.

We definitely have a long way to go!


Hayleigh St. Onge_1

Hayleigh St. Onge

Have you heard the term sustainability? What does it mean to you?

“Trying to be able to keep something up – like never giving up on something. Keeping things as natural as you can, without as much interference from humans.

How do you feel about the sustainability efforts in Buffalo or at UB?

“From what I’ve seen, UB is a lot more efficient when it comes to sustainability and the environment, compared to other places that I’ve seen around the world.”

What does it mean to ‘go green’?

“Doing the best you can not to use non-reusable things by trying to reuse as many things as you can.”

Everyday in America we waste enough food to fill a 90,000 person stadium. How do you feel about that?

“That makes me really sad because there are a lot of people that could use that food – and that just makes me really upset that people do that.”

In your opinion, what can individuals do to help solve these problems?

“Either not get as much food so you don’t waste as much, or save it and use it in a different way, like compost and stuff.”

Do you engage in any eco-friendly practices?

“I recycle a lot, and I use natural lighting.”
Rebecca Bramble

Rebecca Bramble

Have you heard of the term sustainability, and if so, what does it mean to you?

“I’ve heard of it, but I can’t put a description to it.”

What does it mean to ‘go green’?

“When I think of going green I think of recycling, and just doing whatever we can do make the world a better place, because obviously we’re not doing a good job at that.”

Is there anything you do in your own life to ‘go green’?

“I’m big on littering, so I’ll always pick up trash if I see it, or tells others to pick up their trash. Nothing big.”

What is your stance on food waste?

“I mean I know sometimes I do it, and I always feel guilty after just thinking about all the food that’s going to waste when there’s people that would like die for a little piece of that. I think because we’re privileged we take it for granted, and we think, of if we throw it away we can always get another meal whenever we want.”

Supavee Nimitkvl_1

Supavee Nimitkvl

Have you heard of the term sustainability, and if so, what does it mean to you?

“Something stable.”

Does your home town in Taiwan have any sustainability efforts, like recycling programs?

“Not much – in public places they have nothing like this, but in school sometimes they have [recycling].

Everyday in America we waste enough food to fill a 90,000 person stadium. How do you feel about that?

“Wow.. this is my concern to. I try to order just what I eat. I think its very wasteful.”

Do you engage in any eco-friendly practices?

“No.”

Joe Gordon

Joe Gordon

Have you heard of the term sustainability, and if so, what does it mean to you?

“Being able to provide for yourself, or a country being able to provide for itself. To be able to stay alive, kind of.”

Do you have a stance on climate change?

“Yeah, I mean I definitely think it is happening, like the winter right now and everything, so I can’t really ignore that it’s happening, but I don’t really know what can be done about it.”

What does it mean to ‘go green’?

“Trying your best to cut down on polluting, like I realize you’re not going to be able to get rid of it completely, but actively trying to get rid of it I think would help.”

Everyday in America we waste enough food to fill a 90,000 person stadium. How do you feel about that?

“That seems kind of shocking, but at the same time I could see it happening, because some people out there really don’t care much about it. It is surprising though.”

Do you engage in any eco-friendly practices?

“Towards the summer I try and ride my bike instead of taking my car to work – it seems wasteful to just drive a car everywhere.”

Samuel Trzaska

Samuel Trzaska

Have you heard of the term sustainability, and if so, what does it mean to you?

“Most of the time I associate it with the Earth and recycling and what not, preserving water, things like that to ensure that the environment can remain the same way.”

How do you feel about the sustainability efforts in Buffalo or at UB?

“I don’t really have much of an idea about them – I know at UB there’s efforts to promote recycling and other stuff. I know they have some kind of compost program or something like that.”

What does it mean to ‘go green’?

“Drive a hybrid car, recycling, preserving water – just having a larger scope of the environment in general.”

Do you engage in any eco-friendly practices?

“I would like to think so – when there’s a recycling bin I’ll try to use that, when there’s a compost bin I’ll try to throw my food waste in there, when there’s a bottle rolling around I’ll try and pick it up, taking shorter showers and turning off the lights – the basic stuff that I hope other people try to do.”

Did you know that livestock account for 51% of GHG emissions?
“I didn’t know it was that much, but I was aware that livestock are a large contributing factor. It’s definitely a problem, but there’s so much involved in the livestock industry, so many jobs, a lot of people depend on it, myself included. Protein is an important part of the diet. Of course, you can do that more sustainably, but I think 51% is too much so I think we can do something to reduce that down to 30% that’d be good.”
Richard Patti

Richard Patti

Have you heard of the term sustainability, and if so, what does it mean to you?

“No and no. I don’t know what it means.”

Do you have a stance on climate change?

“I feel that it is a natural ebb and flow, but we’re definitely punctuating it more than it should be right now.”

What does it mean to ‘go green’?

“Practices that are more environmentally sustainable.”

Such as?

“Build a windmill, compost heap in your backyard, solar panels on your house.”

Do you engage in any eco-friendly practices?

“Not at all.”

Do you want to?

“Probably should. I’d drive an environmentally friendly car if they weren’t so damn ugly. Ya know – those help.”

Did you know that everyday in America we waste enough food to fill a 90,000 person stadium?

“I actually did know that – I learned that in one of my classes. I feel like we should ether eat more food – wait wait scratch that. We’re already fat enough. We should not waste food and we should find a way to – I don’t know if there’s a way to recycle food, but if there is we should find a way to do it.”

Ethel Tan

Ethel Tan

Do you have a stance on climate change?

“No not really, I don’t have a stance on climate change.”

How do you feel about the sustainability efforts in Buffalo or at UB?

“I definitely think Buffalonians are more concerned about sustainability. I see them recycling more than I do in Singapore, so I do think that they make a big effort to do so. I don’t think recycling or sustainability is on Singaporean minds.”

What does it mean to ‘go green’?

“I think going green, in my opinion, is more reducing waste, like not buying too many products that you don’t need, recycling, taking care of the environment, walking and cycling instead of driving – things like that.”

Did you know that everyday in America we waste enough food to fill a 90,000 person stadium?

“I think that’s a terrifying number, but at the same time, demand and supply are an issue and people over consume, where [resources] could be better spread out to people who need it more, but unfortunately that’s not the case.”

Do you think that individuals can make a difference?

“Some of my friends back in Singapore, after a big dinner or potluck with package up the extra food to give to the hungry or homeless. As individuals here, we can also do that by giving away things we don’t need instead of throwing it out, and regularly questioning yourself as to whether you need this thing you are going to buy so we don’t over consume.”

Do you engage in any eco-friendly practices?

“Actually, no I do not..”

If you could, what would you do?

“I think one thing I could do is purchase more environmentally friendly products, perhaps. Because you know, as a girl you use a lot of different products like hairspray and face wash that comes in bottles that aren’t environmentally friendly.”
Haider A. Tung_2

Haider A. Tung

Have you heard of the term sustainability, and if so, what does it mean to you?

“Maintaining the nature, maintaining the greenery around us to maintain a clean environment.”

How do you feel about the sustainability efforts in Buffalo or at UB?

“They clean up some trash around here, plant some trees – I think they’re doing a pretty decent job.”

In your hometown in Pakistan, do they promote any sustainability efforts?

“They try to promote it, but I’ll be honest, Pakistan doesn’t focus too much on recycling or the environment as other countries would, as I would like them to at least. The government does do some efforts like building parks and green spaces here and there, but the people themselves don’t put in as much of an effort, if you ask me.”

Did you know that everyday in America we waste enough food to fill a 90,000 person stadium?

“I believe that – that is terrible, that is absolutely terrible. I personally work with a non-profit, non-governmental organization in which which give food out to the needy. Right now there’s a terrorist attack that just took place in Pakistan so our organization is distributing food to [the victims], so to know that food is being wasted, and there’s so many places in the world that need food, that just… makes me angry.”

Do you engage in any eco-friendly practices?

“I never throw my trash anywhere but the trash can, never in the road or any of that stuff. I have a garden that I help my dad maintain every once in awhile. But other than not polluting, I don’t do anything to increase the environment, per say, but I don’t pollute so I think that’s an effort in itself.”
Elizabeth Hart_1

Elizabeth Hart

Have you heard of the term sustainability?

“Yeah I’ve heard of it – it just means to use the resources of the Earth in a way that lasts as long as possible.”

Do you have a stance on climate change?

“I definitely believe that climate change is real and that we should try and prevent it.”

How do you feel about the sustainability efforts in Buffalo or at UB?

“Well I’ve heard a lot about UB 2020, and use solar energy too – there’s those solar panels on campus.”

Where you live or with your family to you engage in any recycling or sustainability practices?

“At home my family recycles, but where I live on campus there isn’t really any access to recycling outlets, sadly. At home we do recycle and try to use as little water and energy as we can – that’s about it though.”

What does it mean to ‘go green’?

“I guess to just make as much of an effort as you can to not hurt the environment.”

Did you know that everyday in America we waste enough food to fill a 90,000 person stadium?

“That’s really sad. It’s unfortunate because there are so many people in other parts of the world that don’t have access to food… So that is definitely sad.”

Do you think that individuals can do anything to improve the situation?

“Yeah, we can make a conscious effort to not waste food. And even governments do important things – I know France just passed a law that supermarkets can’t just throw away their food anymore; they have to donate it.”
Garima Anand_1

Garima Anand

Have you heard of the term sustainability?

“To use resources so that it is available for the future generations.”

What is your stance on climate change?

“I think pollution is the main reason for the climate change – and increasing population causing increasing pollution and that’s how the climate is changing.”

How do you feel about the sustainability efforts in Buffalo or at UB?

“I think the solar panels are a great effort from UB – that’s all I know.”

Does your hometown in India have a recycling program or anything?

“Yeah it does have recycling, but in a very few places. The government is doing something, but even at the individual level – individuals are building homes that are environmentally friendly and stuff like that. But it’s not huge – [the efforts] are still growing.”

Did you know that livestock account for 51% of GHG emissions?

“Yeah I am a vegetarian so I am against all that – but I didn’t really know about this fact. I would say support vegetarian and go vegetarian to more people so we can save our climate from this thing as well.”

Did you know that everyday in America we waste enough food to fill a 90,000 person stadium?

“The only thing I don’t like about the U.S. when I came to the U.S. is they waste a lot of food. I don’t really like that because I come from India – it’s still a growing country, but when you go to India there’s still a lot of poverty. There are people who are not even able to get two meals a day. I think U.S. should do something about it, because U.S. is also apart of UN, so if U.S. can do something to donate some food to the poor countries, I think the underdeveloped could do a lot better.”

Do you engage in any eco-friendly practices?

“I try not to waste food and to recycle as much as I can, and in India I helped plant a lot of trees, but in U.S., not yet.”

 

*Photography by Zhi Ting Phua

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