Whitworth students advocate for sustainable change
Two students have been tasked with envisioning and enacting strategies to make Whitworth a more sustainable community. Lisa Bobb, '18, is the sustainability coordinator for Whitworth's dining service, Sodexo, while Whitney Jester, '17, is the ASWU sustainability coordinator.
Bobb is majoring in biology with a minor in environmental studies and has a passion for creation care.
"I became interested in the position when I saw problems with the way things in my dorm were being recycled, and I started talking to more and more people at Whitworth who might have been involved in the process," Bobb says. "I learned that until facilitators know that students care and want to change things, nothing will happen. It takes student initiative to make a difference. I wanted to be in a position where I could solve problems and figure out ways for Whitworth to be sustainable on a bigger scale."
Jester is a peace studies major who is also pursuing a minor in environmental studies.
"I think the sustainability coordinator position is important on college campuses because it is in college that young adults build habits that will continue on into adulthood," Jester says. "College is also the place where young adults are building their worldviews. And I think, especially in this day and age, when environmental issues are creeping onto our radar, having sustainability practices as part of these worldviews is essential in creating a better environment for ourselves and future generations."
Although both students are passionate about their cause, there can be challenges to promoting sustainability.
"It can be challenging to start a process so large and intimidating, and to encourage others to share my passion for these issues, when they all have their own passions," Bobb says.
"The most difficult part of my job is dealing with apathetic attitudes and attempting to change ingrained habits," Jester says. "Ignorance toward environment care can be overcome with education, but apathy is something that is much more difficult to change."
However, finding others on campus who are thoughtfully engaged in environmental issues is part of the reward of the sustainability coordinator's position.
"I transferred to Whitworth as a junior last year, and my first semester I felt extremely out of place and unconnected to the community," Jester says. "I grew up in an orchard in a small town and attended a community college with a large body of supportive friends, so the transition to the city and the new community was really difficult to adjust to. Through being involved in the sustainability-promoting events and volunteering in the community garden run by Kipos, a club for students advocating environmental justice, I was able to find my place at Whitworth."
Another great reward is seeing change in action.
"It can feel sometimes like any real change that causes an impact is impossible, but when it gets accomplished, you know you've made a difference with how somebody thinks and acts," Bobb says.
Bobb and Jester have some tips on small ways to increase sustainability.
"Students can learn where different waste items can be disposed of and act on that," Bobb says. "Turning lights off when you're not home, not wasting excessive amounts of water. These sound like small basic steps, but they honestly make a bigger difference than you'd think. If we can get the small stuff down, we can tackle bigger challenges like food waste and energy sources. And it all starts with caring about whether you recycle a bottle or throw it away."
Jester also recommends taking shorter and fewer showers, using public transport or other means of transportation, and shopping for local foods. Main Market Co-Op and the farmer's market on 5th and Browne are her favorite options in Spokane.
After graduating from Whitworth, Bobb hopes to work for World Vision, a faith-based NGO. Jester was accepted to the Peace Corps and will be headed to Paraguay to work in sustainable agriculture development with the goal of building community and alleviating poverty.