Our June Sustainability Snapshots are Penny Gillette and Randi Zimmermann.
Penny is currently getting her degree from Arizona State University in Scottsdale, AZ and living in Kittredge, CO. You may have seen her smiling face while you were getting a cup of Joe at Starbucks in El Rancho where she is the Sustainability Coordinator. We are excited to have Penny on board to help us with our Green Business Initiative. Penny is super gregarious, excited to work on most anything and has the positive energy we love! Read more about Penny’s Sustainability journey:
What inspired you to go into sustainability for your degree? I stumbled upon this article following the release of the 2018 IPCC report.https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2018/10/07/world/climate-change-new-ipcc-report-wxc/index.html. I had an epiphany that I needed to help and do something about this problem. It lit my fire (pun intended) for climate action and I immediately changed my major from psychology to sustainability.What do you feel is the most important thing that people can do today that will significantly impact tomorrow? Live a life of intention, not convenience. I know that’s easier said than done, but putting more thought into my actions and choices has made the greatest change in my life. For instance, I’ve not needed hundreds of plastic bags over the past 5 years because I simply keep 2 reusable bags in my car. Small, thoughtful actions create big impacts.Can you give some examples of how you practice a sustainable lifestyle (either related to zero waste, renewable energy, conservation, in school, etc.)? I compost at home! I’ve been doing backyard composting and it makes our trash way more manageable and less expensive. I also keep metal forks and straws in every bag, purse, backpack, etc. It gives me no excuse to use disposables.What words of wisdom do you have for someone just getting started on their journey to ‘go green’? Start small with what you have. Use Tupperware and save the tubs and jars from takeout, pasta sauce, yogurt, etc.
Now meet Randi Zimmermann.
Randi is getting her MBA from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. Thanks to local Cactus Jacks Saloon and Grill, we joined efforts to get Randi to join us as a fellow for the summer. It is wonderful to have Randi also helping with our Green Business Initiative. Randi is very organized, jumps right into working closely with businesses and like Penny, has the positive energy that will sustain us all! Read more about Randi’s Sustainability journey:
What inspired you to go into sustainability for your degree? I have always been interested in how a business’ choices can have a larger impact on both society and the environment than any individual person. After several years working in small businesses in Austin, Texas, the connection between a business’ influence and our social structures became more evident. As the climate crisis has become more obvious and its impacts more serious, I have experienced more and more climate anxiety. I was drawn to CSU’s Impact MBA because it felt like a good way to channel that climate anxiety into a format that was useful to the environmental movement and had the potential to help mitigate the effects of climate change as much as possible.
Was there a particular class that you took that lead you in this direction? While I may not have realized it at the time, an elective class called Humans Rights: Theories and Practices in my undergraduate degree has largely influenced my views around climate change and its impact on communities around the world. In this class, we read the United Nation’s Universal Declaration on Human Rights and discussed how each of the rights is enacted and / or limited in different countries. This gave me a strong foundation in understanding the impacts of climate change on communities around the world and how those direct impacts will inevitably cause cascading effects even in wealthy countries like the United States.
What do you feel is the most important thing that people can do today that will significantly impact tomorrow? I think that the most important thing that any one person can do is share their engagement in climate- or environmental-related issues with their friends, family, colleagues, etc. Generating discussion around environmentalism is a great way to educate and inform others which will hopefully influence them to be more engaged themselves. Once someone learns about how climate change will impact them personally, they are more likely to care about the issue and share its importance with their network.
Can you give some examples of how you practice a sustainable lifestyle (either related to zero waste, renewable energy, conservation, in school, etc.)? Aside from learning about sustainability in the Impact MBA program, I try to make small changes in my daily life and routine. First, I try to be as discerning as possible when purchasing anything new. I often ask myself if I really need a particular item and if it is something that I will only need for a short time period, if it is possible to borrow, rent the product, or purchase it secondhand. Second, when I do make purchases, I try to find alternatives that have less packaging, fewer carbon emissions, or have thorough sustainability reports available on their website. Examples of this include switching from liquid shampoo / body wash to bar shampoo / body wash, liquid laundry detergent to laundry detergent sheets, traditional cleaning products to concentrated cleaning products, and I am in the process of switching to a bar facial cleanser and body lotion. Regarding dietary changes, I would love to say that I am vegan or vegetarian but I’m not and previous attempts have demonstrated that those lifestyles aren’t entirely for me. I do, however, try to exclude meat and dairy where I can. Generally, this means eating a vegetarian diet a couple of days each week and limiting red meat consumption. I still eat fish and chicken some days but overall, I would consider myself a ‘flexitarian’ based on how my body is feeling that day. I also have a backyard garden and composting pile that is just getting into action for the summer!
What words of wisdom do you have for someone just getting started on their journey to ‘go green’? My biggest words of advice are that baby steps still make a difference. Many people may feel overwhelmed by the thought of living ‘zero waste’ or having to do everything perfectly in order to make a difference but that is just not true. Millions of people making tiny changes will be more impactful than one single person living ‘perfectly’. As each person advocates for environmental change throughout their immediate network, more people see the environmental message. Caring about our environment and the climate is something that everyone can do, just by making small changes in their everyday life and becoming a more conscious consumer. Aside from personal choices related to consumption, join a network or likeminded people. Climate anxiety is a real issue and unfortunately, many people become so overwhelmed by the issue that they find themselves giving up. Talking to people who care about the same issues can be cathartic and can give you hope that 1. there are people working toward solutions and 2. you aren’t alone in your worries.