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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Lucy Tan

What is your personal definition of sustainability? 

Sustainability to me means doing things in a way that reduces negative impact as much as possible. I don’t believe that it is possible to operate and produce in society with a net zero impact. Thus I think organizations should strive to produce in ways that are the least damaging as they can be. To me the word sustainability implies longevity, it is a practice you can continue doing because the harm is a) reversable, b) not that impactful. If a business cannot produce something for a long time without accelerating the speed of environmental deterioration, it is not sustainable.   

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

I want to enter into a CPG career because marketing is my passion. I recognize that CPG can seemingly be the antithesis of environmentalism and more importantly, does not promote sustainable practices. Thus, I want to introduce and innovate ideas for more sustainable packaging and advertising. Last year I took a trip to Japan where I was introduced to a plethora of packaging concepts I had never seen in North America. I think this transferring these ideas is a starting point for packaged goods company. Overall, I believe that simply operationally, there are many places to identify improvements to be more sustainable, whether that be sourcing or implementing technology reducing harm to the environment. Moreover, I see corporations as at the forefront of change. Consumers will change as the products on the shelves do. It’s a two-way relationship. So while consumers can change their habits, I believe corporations have a large responsibility for catalyzing that movement and promoting environmentally sustainable consciousness and actions. I believe regardless of the industry I can introduce sustainably options, for example to consultant clients, I simply need to gain the knowledge on how to make it feasible and implementable for others.  

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in? 

At my high school I was a member of the eco-club where we promoted more environmentally friendly habits throughout the school. We launched a recycling initiative where the class with the most correctly recycled bins were rewarded with a pizza party at the end of the month. This was a rigorous process as we had to have members generally inspect the contents of each bin but it certainly engrained the notion to recycle more consciously in some of the students’ minds. Additionally, I contributed to the tree planting initiative outside my school to bring more greenery to the yard. From a personal perspective, I regrow vegetables at home for my housemates to use. This helps reduce the need to rely on grocery stores, which employ many emissions to transport foods. Additionally, I contributed to the process of identifying sustainable sourcing options at the company I am interning at, Evergreen Journals. While I feel many changes are beyond my reach there is certainly opportunity for me to engage in further projects to promote and enact sustainability. Attached is a photo of me exploring the lush bamboo forest in Japan, Arashiyama.  

Lucy Tan

Lucy  Tan