• BEST IN STATE—Senior Courtney Schoen Lewis was named Best PR Student in Utah. Story

Utah Bioneers: We all play important roles in sustaining the Earth

November 4th, 2011 Posted in Arts and Life

‘Sustainability is not a hippie movement, it’s not a political movement, it’s an important part of society and we all have a role in it.’ – Krista Bustamante

By Allie Jeppson

LOGAN – Utah State University student involvement in sustainability continues to grow with the 8th Annual Utah Bioneers Conference that began Thursday.

“We’re getting a lot more student involvement, generally,” co-chair of the conference Jack Green said.

According to the Bioneers website, Utah Bioneers is a non-profit organization that brings together “social and scientific innovators from all walks of life … and provides a forum and social hub for education about solutions presented through the Bioneers conference and its programs.

“Viable solutions already exist for most of our environmental and social crises. The solutions in nature consistently surpass our concept of what is possible. Once people discover these realities, it dramatically leverages pressure for change,” the conference pamphlet stated.

One “viable solution” that USU students have found is the implementation of this year’s green fee, voted for in February, Green said. Increasing freshman attendance to sustainability workshops offered during orientation is another, he said.

Senior Krista Bustamante, who spoke during Thursday’s social equity workshop held on campus, is a prime example of how students can become involved in sustainability.

“Sustainability is not a hippie movement, its not a political movement, its an important part of society and we all have a role in it,” Bustamante said.

Social equity, as defined by the 1996 Presidential Council on Sustainable Development and presented in the workshop, is “an equal opportunity in a safe and healthy environment … and the least understood element of the triad that is sustainability.”

Also included in the sustainability triad is environment – caring for the planet and economy, the profitable side to making the world more sustainable. Bustamante addressed each part of sustainability in the workshop, relating each one to the audience on a more personal level – me, us and now.

When people think of sustainability they usually think of things like environment, recycling, natural resources, pollution and reduction, Bustamante said. What they fail to recognize is the social equity aspect of sustainability – how becoming sustainable affects us as individuals and as communities.

“What is your story and how does it pertain to sustainability?” Bustamante asked the audience in the “me” portion of her speech. “There is no us and them in sustainability, everything that we do affects us.”

Relating social equity and sustainability to a larger, community scale, Bustamante showed the audience percentage ratios of what the world would be like if it were a 100-person village. Of those 100 people, Bustamante noted, only one would be a college graduate.

“Does this seem socially equal to you?” Bustamante asked. “Not in the least bit. Getting different forms of education is extremely important to this drive of social equity.”

Sustainability is more than simply recycling. It’s about thinking about the resources and costs of production on each product we buy, Bustamante said. Does the price for which you are buying things seem equitable?

“It’s about survival — creating a wholesome, healthy, beautiful world that we all want,” Green said, “and that means that we have healthy economic and environmental systems.”

Bustamante addressed the United States’ dependency on other countries for resources and how unequal it is to the way that other countries use resources of their own. “If everyone in the world used the same amount of resources that Americans do, the amount of resources needed would take three to four earths,” she said.

Bustamante encouraged students and community members to help solve this problem by getting involved with organizations such as the USU sustainability council, the Natural Leaders Network, No Child Left Inside and Youth Discovery Inc.

Sustainability is appropriate for anyone, Green said. It leads to thinking in different ways that comply with sustainability.

“This is about your world,” Bustamante said. “Students have a long time to go, this is about you.”

The conference will continue through Saturday with other speakers and activities teaching students and residents of Logan how to become more sustainable, how to spread the word, and how to create a more sustainable future.


Tags: , ,

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.