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I was first introduced to the concept of sustainability, more specifically environmental sustainability, by my middle school teachers. My middle school was near a large forest and had lots of wildlife surrounding it. I got to personally experience observing animals in the wild which included animals such as salmons, bears, cougars, and robins. We were taught to respect these animals as neighbors or guests when they were on school grounds. My love of my animal neighbors is what inspired me to strive towards creating an environmentally sustainable future. 

What is your personal definition of sustainability?

My personal definition of sustainability means that people are choosing options that allow future generations to enjoy the same luxuries and benefits as we did today, without sacrificing the current wants and needs of society. A sustainable option should not require us to sacrifice our current wants and needs, but instead offers an alternative solution to the things we enjoy. A sustainable option will ensure that everyone will enjoy the prosperity that the planet offers. 

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

I believe that sustainability will become even more important than ever in the future. Businesses are realizing that sustainability is not just about boosting their public image, but incorporating sustainability is essential for the long-term health of their business. Companies that have traditionally relied on unsustainable sources such as oil companies are now investing in renewable energy. These companies are understanding that being sustainable can be profitable and make necessary changes so that sustainability will be incorporated into more decisions. 

I want to expand the environmental and sustainability initiatives at any future work opportunities.  I aim to educate my future coworkers on the importance and ease of making sustainable choices. I hope to set goals at the workplace focused on sustainability and to make changes that will be beneficial to everyone. For myself, I hope to evolve my mindset to combine strong business and sustainability concepts that will be beneficial to both profits and society. I will feel accomplished when my colleagues feel the need to work on their own sustainability goals and projects. 

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in? 

I worked on installing our high school's first water bottle refill station. Before the installation, filling water was difficult as there was no source of clean filtered water. As a result, students drank a lot of sugary drinks which contained plastic.  By installing this machine, there was an easily accessible source of clean water and bringing reusable bottles instead of plastic alternatives. We were able to fund the project through 3-year fundraising, grants, and environmental competition. 

Another project was our battery recycling program in high school. We made recycling boxes out of old shoe boxes and art supplies. We then placed the boxes in every classroom and collected them weekly over several months. We collect several kilograms of battery and electronic material every year for recycling and was a very popular time for students to get rid of their old electronics. 

Calvin Jiang

Calvin Jiang