Did you know that the way we live our lives now is threatening our life support system here on Earth? How about the fact that 1/3 of the waste on the University of Washington’s campus is food waste? As of 2012, we are using 156% of the biodiversity on our planet, according to speaker Kristi Straus. We were lucky enough to have Dr. Kristi Straus come and talk to us this last Tuesday, May 9th, about her passion for sustainability sustainable habits.
Sustainability is a very broad term that essentially means to meet your present needs without it affecting the ability of future generations to meet their needs or run out of resources. The premise behind sustainable eating is finding “What needs to change so we can live sustainably… it also includes economic and social components…socially just and economically manageable for those who live in those systems,” according to Dr. Straus. Everyone consumes food, but few people know how to do so in a sustainable manner. Sustainable food habits include food that is ecologically responsible, fair and accessible, produces no waste, is healthy, and is local. While the idea of “Local” is up to your discretion, the concept your “food-print” comes into play when you think about the distance food travels to get to your plate. Your food-print tells you the environmental impact of your food consumption, which is most commonly measured in the miles it takes for food to travel from the point of production to the point of consumption. Currently, the average distance food travels to get to us is around 1,500 miles; just think of the carbon dioxide implications involved in that much travel!
The most important thing you can do to reduce your food-print is to eat locally – within reason. Eating local doesn’t just reduce the food-print, but it also provides fresher food and benefits the immediate economy of your community. Buying local could mean participating in a community sponsored agriculture program or buying at a farmer’s market. To get the most out of this, look for organic certified products: they’re not only better for the environment, but they’re better for you too!
Kristi Straus grew up in California and went to school in Maine as a Biology Major. She then took time off to travel and went to Morocco to participate for the Peace Corps for two years, where she worked with health and clean water and witnessed how sustainable living works in other countries. Dr. Straus said that it “made her think about resources and happiness in a new way.” She now has a Ph.D. from the University of Washington and focuses on how conservation, science, and policy all play into one another.
(For UW Students) To find out more about the fight for sustainability and our planet, Dr. Straus recommends taking ENVIR 239, ENVIR 439, ENVIR 240, or ENVIR 495. Or visit one of these sites:
- Ask Umbra
- Ecological Footprint Calculator
Following a busy week filled with Earth Day activities, we were fortunate enough to welcome Jaffer Ali, CEO of Nue Power, to our meeting this week. He shared his insights with us, covering everything from his childhood to his entrance into the business world. He shared with us some tips regarding how to make good first impressions with companies and how to succeed at entrepreneurship by incorporating sustainability efforts in the field of business just like he did.
Born in Saudi Arabia, and then later living in Pakistan, Ali came to the United States at the age of 4. He knew no English and was fully immersed in the American culture with no warning. A few years later he learned about the stock market by asking his father about it. He eventually learned how you can own tiny pieces of large businesses and instantly he was hooked. He was particularly interested in investing in Coca-Cola.
Fast forward to 2017 and Jaffer Ali has not only created his own business but successfully created a network and filled such a unique niche. With Ali’s company, Nue Power, his main vision is to implement solar energy solutions within communities, especially within homes in the Pacific Northwest. He believes that in a few years solar panels will take over because of its efficiency. Solar power will soon become cheaper and more accessible than any other source of energy.
We learned that compared to other branches of business, entrepreneurship is much riskier and more competitive than other positions in business. Without a doubt, entrepreneurship has many benefits but also requires large risks, which is evident in what Ali did. Technology is advancing is such a quick rate that people are constantly trying to reinvent every process or item in hopes to save time, save money, reduce risk, and even increase status. Although this is true about technology, sustainability is another component that is becoming crucial in the field of business. Sustainable practices eventually lead to reliable products and a better corporate culture. Ali reminds us all about the importance of combining good business practices and sustainability in hope to create an eco-friendly future for all.
If you want to learn more about Jaffer Ali and Nue Power Solar, visit https://nuepowersolar.com/
At our next meeting on November 15th, 2016, the Green Greek Representative Program has the privilege of hosting “one of the world’s pre-eminent business consultants and teachers in the field of sustainability,” Kevin Wilhelm. He will be coming to talk with us about how we as a community can go chase after our dream careers with sustainability in mind. Kevin Wilhelm has been very successful in writing multiple guide books on how to make different areas and aspects of your life more sustainable now and in the future. What’s more, Wilhelm will be giving us insight into his newest book Sustainability Jobs. This book has given people the necessary tools in how to go after their dream job in sustainability.
One of his key concepts is that as a community we need to make sustainability “stick,” a major concern especially within our Greek community. It’s important that we look at these changes not as a temporary solution, but as the beginning of a new lifestyle for our community. Wilhelm is coming to share these ideas and give us some major tips and hints as ways we can continue to make these positive sustainable changes in the Greek community.
Kevin Wilhelm has spoken to hundreds of audiences, many of which share a desire to make their communities more sustainable. We are beyond lucky to host Mr. Kevin Wilhelm and hear just a few ways in which we can enrich the sustainability within the Greek community.