APRIL 2018 PROFILE: FLOR MACIEL

April 06, 2018

“To me, sustainability is the practice of conserving the Earth’s resources so that future generations can have a comfortable life. Of course, comfort is relative, but it is living in a minimalist way and only purchasing the items you truly need as well as recycling and reusing. It is also being mindful of the environment we live in and sharing with animals, while realizing that humans have had such a huge impact on the Earth, such as climate change, and now taking the step to mitigate it.”

What sustainable practice do you live by in your daily life?
“In my daily life, I practice little steps to be sustainable. These, for me, are taking shorter showers and being careful of the amount of water and energy I use. I also don’t purchase water bottles or plastic bags; I opt for the reusable versions. A favorite practice of mine is to use hand-me-downs from my family members or purchase second-hand clothes.As a few of my fellow SSAs have done, I actually hope to have a clothing swap event this quarter at Crown and Merrill."
What is your long-term vision for UCSC?
"I hope that UCSC, through the work that many sustainability organizations are doing, can further foster an attitude of sustainability for current and new students. This will mean that every student will have a chance to learn about sustainability and practice it, even if they were not able to do so at home. I’d also like for UCSC to achieve its Zero-Waste goal and become Fossil Fuel free. To achieve these goals, I think it’d be incredibly helpful if the Sustainability Office was given the resources to expand its student participation. On the energy usage front, I hope there is solution to incentivize on-campus students to use less energy because they don’t need to pay an energy bill separate from the housing one. This makes it so there is no way to save money from energy as they could be living off campus."
Do you think UC’s should join forces to become more sustainable, are there things we should learn from each other and apply it?  
"I think that it would be ideal if every UC could come together for sustainability. Being a significant high-education institution, the UC system has the influence to advocate and push for sustainability. There are many things to be learned from each university. For example, through the research I have done for my Campus Sustainability Plan project, I learned that some UCs only allow Energy Star mini-fridges in their dorms. Additionally, if feasible, it’d be useful if more UC grants were created, such as the #MyLastTrash grant, to fund a diverse array of sustainability endeavors."
What are your thoughts on Environmental injustice?  
"Environmental injustice is a topic that I hope to learn more about. So far, most of my knowledge comes from ENVS 100 and the paper I wrote concerning the discrepancies in air pollution exposure between socioeconomic levels in China. Overall, it is disheartening to know that the poorest are also the most vulnerable to environmental issues, such as climate change. In my future career, I hope to amplify the voices of such people, so that they can explain the hardships they face. I also want to expand my knowledge on environmental injustice and I will be taking a class next year to do so."

Does sustainability only mean taking care of the planet? If it doesn’t, explain why?
"In my opinion, sustainability encompasses taking care of the Earth, as well as people. People are a part of nature no matter how much we try to separate ourselves from it. So in order to be sustainable, we must take care of people alongside with nature; however, this brings up the issue of equal accessibility for sustainability. People from lower socioeconomic levels may be thinking of other issues, such as employment, housing, or food security before they can think of the Earth. In order for sustainability to succeed, we should offer support for the issues these people are facing and include the ideas they have in the discussion."
Is there a message you would like UCSC students to know?
"Concerning sustainability, the message would be to keep doing simple things: composting, recycling, saving energy and water, or volunteer and donate money to the many sustainability organizations there are. Academically, keep trying your best in your given major and follow through on any opportunity that interests you."
What does it mean to be an Student Sustainability Advisor (SSA) intern?
"I think being a Student Sustainability Advisor is primarily about knowing the attitude of the community you live in. For me, that is Crown and Merrill, where I have lived  for 3 years. It is also using that knowledge to try to create programs about various sustainability topics that you believe will attract residents in your community. Overall, I believe this program has a lot of potential because there is an SSA for every paired college!"

How do you feel about being accepted as an intern at Carnegie Science Department of Ecology?
"I feel so fortunate to be researching a topic that I am passionate about at the Carnegie Science Department of Ecology. I am also excited to work with Dr. Geeta Persad and, under her guidance, research the question I will eventually develop about the climate and air pollution. Although, I sometimes question myself if I actually truly received this internship (which I now know to be “imposter syndrome”). So if anyone else feels this way, you are not alone. I also would like to thank Kristen Lee who advocated me for this position; I’m positive she had influence in me being accepted, so thank you!"