Caleb Yoder: Keeping Gonzaga Green
In accordance with it's mission, Gonzaga is fully committed to safeguarding the natural world in response to climate change. Part of that mission is graduating Zags who are environmentally conscious. However, some students have taken it upon themselves to educate their peers and give them a 'green thumb.'
Meet Caleb Yoder.
What is your year, major, or club affiliation at Gonzaga?
I am a Senior Communication Studies Major, and I work as a Student Sustainability Engagement Coordinator at Gonzaga’s Office of Sustainability.
What does sustainability mean to you?
To me, sustainability means being conscious of our place in a larger ecosystem. It can be easy to forget the impact that our everyday actions have on the environment, but everything we do has an effect downstream. People are not above nature, they are a part of nature, and sustainability calls us to recognize this and take action to protect our world.
How have you been involved in promoting sustainability on campus?
Last semester, I was part of the Student Sustainability Leadership Project, which taught me a lot about how institutions like Gonzaga can promote sustainability in their community. This summer, I’ve also been working with the CCE to grow produce in the Campus Kitchen’s garden and redistribute unused food to people in need.
What are some things you do in your personal life to live sustainably?
Trying to protect the environment can be intimidating and overwhelming for individuals to take on alone. That’s why one of the most important things that I try to do is spend my money responsibly and shop locally. Not only does this support the local economy, it provides an alternative to supporting the large corporations and industries that are some of the world’s major polluters. We cannot expect companies to change if our demands as consumers remain the same, which is why I believe in “voting with your dollars”. In other words, I try to support the kinds of sustainable business that I want to see more of!
How could Gonzaga continue to improve its sustainability efforts?
One of Gonzaga’s strengths as it relates to sustainability is the number of students passionate about the environment and the clubs dedicated to sustainability work. Another thing Gonzaga does well is hire its own students, giving them employment through work study and on-campus jobs. I think Gonzaga could combine these two strengths by creating more student employment opportunities dedicated to sustainability work. Paid positions, as opposed to a club or volunteer positions, give students the structure and consistency that they need to make tangible change. Students would also benefit by getting real world work experience in the sustainability sector, and the University would gain new workers dedicated to making Gonzaga more environmentally friendly.
How will you continue to promote sustainability at Gonzaga?
I want to be someone who leads by example and practices what I preach. I think that Gonzaga has a lot of resources and events for students who are interested in sustainability, and I want to take full advantage of those during my Senior year here. I also want to connect other students to these resources, which doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Something as simple as word of mouth can go a long way!