Alvina is an Ivey student pursuing a dual degree in Urban Development. She is passionate about social impact, sustainability, and technological innovation. Growing up in Vancouver, she was always surrounded by the beauty of nature, mountains, and ocean. Through the Ivey Sustainability Certificate program, she aims to further integrate sustainability into the business setting and implement a circular economy system into her practices. She hopes to use her skills and experiences to continue tackling meaningful and pressing issues in sustainability. Aside from her academics and career, you can also find her hiking, running, skating, and volunteering with kids.
What is your personal definition of sustainability?
My understanding of sustainability relates to waste management. In my daily practices, I think of the three Rs — reduce, reuse, and recycle. In a business setting, I would analyze a business model and see if there's any possibility of incorporating the circular economy system in their operation. The circular economy concept is when an organization's waste can turn into feedstock for another business and generates revenue. The goal is to reduce the negative impact and pressure a company creates on the environment.
What role do you see sustainability playing in your professional career?
As an Ivey student interested in the consulting services and real estate industries, I hope that by participating in this Sustainability Certificate program, I can analyze and understand how corporations shift towards a more sustainable operation. Although this may be a long and challenging process, I believe that businesses in most industries have a chance to become certified B Corporation. It only depends on whether they see the benefits in doing so or not. In terms of consulting, I hope to pursue the path of sustainable consulting and help organizations identify their areas of opportunities and issues related to sustainability. In terms of real estate, I am interested in learning more about smart urban planning and sustainable real estate developments. Lastly, I hope to reaffirm my commitment to sustainability with like-minded students and learn how sustainability plays in other industries.
What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?
Since high school, I have participated in various sustainability projects. RollUP Solutions (RollUP) and Furniture Bank (FB) are my most recent experiences with social enterprises that tackle sustainability.
RollUP is a mobility device NPO that strives to remove social and physical limitations. In the beginning, we noticed that over 600,000 Canadians go without a mobility device because they cannot afford it, while wheelchairs that are no longer needed became excess and left unused. As the Head of Operations, I'm responsible for collecting gently-used wheelchairs, upcycling them with our community partners, and then donating or reselling the devices with a 95% discount to customers in financial need. With this business model, my team was able to upcycle 185 wheelchairs, which is putting approximately $37,000 worth of devices back to good use.
FB was built on the concept of circular economy, as it achieved sustainability alongside economic benefit. As a consultant, I researched and identified furniture manufacturers who are interested in donating their unwanted furniture to our warehouse, and we will donate them to families who cannot afford furniture. Currently, FB has reduced 16,350 lbs of waste from landfills and generated $137,800 back to the community.