May 18, 2017 Sophomore Ankur Shah on Sustainability: "The definition of sustainability can be modified to using natural resources carefully and cautiously so that future generations do not face a depletion of the same resources." Student Inquiry Where is home? Huntsville What is your major? Earth and System Science and Physics What year in school are you? Sophomore Sustainability in Practice What is "sustainability" in your own words? Sustainability is a practice we should incorporate in our lifestyle which is harmonious with nature instead of the opposite. To me, 100% sustainability is practiced when there is 'no harm' done to the environment. That is not really plausible in modern times so we should try our best to reach as close as possible to 100% of this goal. The definition of sustainability can be modified to using natural resources carefully and cautiously so that future generations do not face a depletion of the same resources. I read a quote by environmental activist, Wendell Berry stating that "We do not inherit the Earth from our parents. We borrow it from our children". What role do you feel sustainability plays in your life, both now and in the future? I try my best to live a sustainable lifestyle by consuming only what I really need. Since the past year, I have reduced my plastic consumption to a very minimal level, bought used books whenever I could, bought less clothes and also recycled waste wherever I could. I am also a vegetarian because I am aware of the negative consequences of animal agriculture on our environment. In the future, I plan to switch to an electric or a hydrogen fuel cell car, live in an energy efficient home and follow a completely plant-based diet as dairy production still leads to a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. While these are small steps towards sustainability, these make a huge difference when many people take them. What does a "Sustainable UAH" look like? At a sustainable UAH, I see efficient waste management systems, gardens to grow healthy food for students, some sculptures around campus made from used plastic (trash art), solar powered and energy efficient buildings, a clean pond throughout the year and more courses being taught on the topic of environmental sustainability. While UAH is certainly moving in this direction, I would love to see many more students involved in making a sustainable UAH. In what ways can UAH improve in its pursuit of sustainability? In my opinion, one of the most important ways in which UAH can improve in its pursuit of sustainability is by creating courses which focus on how to lead a more sustainable lifestyle or the “dos and don'ts” of such a lifestyle. This will educate the students on the negative effects of overconsumption and also increase their knowledge on environmental the issues we face today. Furthermore, waste management on campus (specifically in dorms) can be made more efficient by increasing the amount of waste recycled. Students can use their creativity to make any kind of art from trash. Buildings can also be made more energy efficient by using smart sensors that can switch the lights off if sunlight during the day is abundant. The sewers on the roadsides need to have a mechanism to prevent litter from flowing in as this pollutes the pond. Lastly, if there are policies in place to ensure these practices, it will last for a much longer time and make a much bigger difference. Take the Survey What do you think about Sustainability? We want to know! Take our survey!