The third annual “Keys to Sustainability” fair took place last Friday, bringing together student groups, academic departments and institutes focused on sustainability.
Besides raising awareness about various ecological issues, the event — which was organized by the Office of Sustainability — also aimed to encourage students to join clubs and pursue academic research and internships related to conservation.
“My vision for ‘Keys to Sustainability’ is to give [students] an opportunity to learn outside of the classroom and gain leadership experience,” said Meghan Kearns, the main event coordinator. “There are tons of grants for students who want to do sustainable projects. This event will show them how they can do that.”
Attendees credited the fair with providing them with valuable information about ways to pursue their interests within the framework of sustainability.
“I’ve always been very interested in sustainability but I haven’t really found a way of really following through it at Stanford,” said Tynan Challenor ’17. “This is sort of like a nucleus with all the information, so it seemed pretty helpful to come and sort of see what was going on there.”
Stanford’s sustainability shortcomings
While student organization representatives in attendance at the fair credited the University’s commitment to sustainability, several emphasized that room for improvement — from managing land development to handling the current drought — remains.
Amy Zuckerwise ’15, president of the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED), drew attention to sustainability issues on campus.
“They have just so much construction and a lot of landscaping that doesn’t seem very sustainable to me,” she said.
Meanwhile, Sophie Harrison ’16, a member of Fossil Free Stanford, critiqued the University’s actions with regards to fossil fuels.
“Stanford has been pretty ambitious about cutting our greenhouse gas emissions but doing that while investing our money in the largest coal, oil and gas companies is fundamentally incompatible with those values,” Harrison said.
For Abhineet Gupta M.S. ’11 Ph.D. ’19, one of the most pressing issues to be solved is recycling and composting on campus.
“There are not enough composting bins around, but then even [for] recycling, I think things are not very properly marked,” he said. “Different buildings will have different classifications, so it gets very confusing.”
With California currently experiencing a drought, various student organizations offered their take on the University community’s response. Sasha Brownsberger ’14, co-president of Green Council, applauded measures such as turning off the fountains and reducing plant watering.
“We ourselves are doing what we can about that, with dorm competitions to save water,” he said. “We’ll challenge Stanford students to cut down on their water usage.”
Contact Sofia Filippa at sofiaf ‘at’ stanford ‘dot’ edu