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From a young age my mom taught me how to compost. I never truly considered the reason for it until the 6thgrade when I the reality of the worlds conditions was brought to my attention. Shocked by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, my journey to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle began. Simple changes to my lifestyle like thrifting, purchasing from local farms, and implementing a recycling system in my college house are a few of the ways that I try to reduce my environmental footprint. Throughout my time at Western I’ve been a part of Western Women in Leadership, WesternCKI, and volunteering at the USC Tax Clinic.

What is your personal definition of sustainability?

Sustainability can mean so many things, but to me it is not only protecting our planet, but going beyond to help repair the harm that has already been done. Everyone from individuals to organizations need to think critically about the world around them and how their actions affect them from not only an environmentally conscious lens, but also a social and economical one. As small as some actions maybe, everything counts in making a difference, starting from you. Focusing on environmental, social, and governance sides.

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

As long as I can remember, I have always been super passionate about wanting to help the environment. Although I am not 100% sure of what I want to do after school, I do know it has to be for a company that cares about sustainability. Huge organizations have the biggest impact on the environment yet are also the ones who care so little about it. With the rising trends of sustainability, I cannot see myself working for somewhere that is greenwashing or are not proactively running initiatives to help save the planet or just generally making it a better place. A career path I have been interested in recently is ESG accounting. Having a standard that you can quantitatively measure how a business is doing in terms of sustainability to the outside world I believe are something that companies have been missing in the past and I want to be more involved with.

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?

One of my favourite sustainability projects I have been engaged with is organizing a park clean-up for members of a club I’m a part of. I had to organize every aspect of it, from creating a budget for supplies, to applying for a grant to fund it, to going to the park to clean up. Not only was it an amazing event that helped a local park for everything that lives there, but also made me appreciate how much extra work it is in order to be sustainable. It was worth all of time and energy that was put into it and really inspired me to want to go above and beyond regular day-to-day activities that I normally do and look at the bigger picture. This in turn made me implement a compost big for my next-door neighbors and I’s houses in London. I tell everyone that will listen about this project and how easy it is to set up, and I hope that in the future enough houses will also do this, forcing the city of London to create a city-wide system.

Julia Switzer

Julia Switzer

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