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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Nathan Szierer

 

Growing up, I always had a keen interest in nature and the beauty it offers. I was also lucky enough to spend my summers camping or at my family farm in Eastern Ontario where I discovered and came to appreciate our environment. This pushed me to study geology before coming to Ivey, where I gained a deep understanding and respect for the things I had been exposed to growing up. One of my favourite activities is hiking (at any time of year) and taking moments to pause and observe the environment around me operate as if I was not there.

 

What is your personal definition of sustainability?

To me, sustainability means framing my decisions in a way which considers the future environmental and social impact of my actions and attempting to limit this impact. Further, I believe that in order to act sustainably, one must do as much as they possibly can (within their means) to limit usage of products or services which negatively impact the environment and the lives of people around the world such as single use plastics. Finally, part of sustainability is working to improve

 

What role do you see sustainability playing in your professional career?

Currently, my desired career path is within the fashion industry. This industry is one which is notorious for being un-sustainable as a result of the production and distribution of clothing items. From the massive amounts of resources needed to produce fabrics to the carbon emitted throughout the many stages of clothing production, the fashion industry represents one of the least sustainable industries in the world. This issue is only made worse by the popularization of ‘fast fashion’ and an increase in consumer culture, where we constantly purchase new clothes as trends change. I believe that there is currently a massive opportunity for sustainability innovation within the fashion industry in order to reduce the environmental impact it has. For example, an industry leader in moving towards sustainable business practices, Burberry, has launched collections made using repurposed textiles and is working to reduce emissions throughout its entire value chain. It is my hope that in my professional career I will be able to drive the companies I work for towards operating sustainably and working towards reversing the damage they have already caused to our environment.

 

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?

In the summer of 2019, I worked for the Cambridge Self Help Food Bank as a Summer Garden Intern. In this role, I was responsible for maintaining four gardens across the city of Cambridge to grow sustainable and organic produce for food bank participants. Throughout the summer I made sure to use as few resources as possible to grow our crops while ensuring no plants suffered from a lack of water or food. In this role, I was also able to work with children and adults in my community to educate them on sustainability and the positive impact of self-sustaining food production. When interacting with elementary students, I was able to share the value in reducing personal environmental impacts and showing them easy ways of living a more sustainable life. We were also lucky enough to engage with companies including Pepsico and BMO to receive donations to expand our gardens and produce even more food. In my summer with the food bank, we produced over 3,000lbs of fresh produce alone. This project was the most rewarding work I have ever done, and it played a large role in bolstering my desire to live a sustainable life.

Nathan Szierer

Nathan Szierer