Meet Annie Cooper

April 25, 2023
Office of Sustainability

What is your position/department/year/major/club affiliation at Gonzaga?

I am a sophomore majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Communications and Leadership Studies. I am the Communications Manager in Gonzaga’s Office of Sustainability and a member of the Gonzaga Environmental Organization.

What does sustainability mean to you?

To me, sustainability is the indigenous concept of the 7th generation: to live and interact with the Earth in a way that is always thinking about how people will live 7 generations from now.

How have you been involved in promoting sustainability on campus?

Working at the Office of Sustainability this past year, I’ve been in charge of community outreach through our office’s various social media platforms and our monthly newsletter to promote environmental activities around campus and in the community. In addition, in the fall I participated in GEO’s Rethink Waste committee, planning waste sorting events on campus, pumpkin smashing to teach about composting, and a Halloween candy wrapper recycling project.

What are some things you do in your personal life to live sustainably?

Living in a dorm for the past two years, it has been tough to incorporate many sustainable practices in my daily life. However, I thrift as much of my clothing as possible, only when I need it, to try to combat fast fashion trends. In addition, I compost and recycle, and try to teach my friends how to limit their use of single-use products as much as possible.

How could Gonzaga continue to improve its sustainability efforts?

I think in the past few years, Gonzaga has done a good job supporting the communities of students who want to make more sustainable changes to campus. However, there is always so much more they could do, especially when it comes to waste on campus. Although many of the residence halls and campus buildings have marked bins for waste, most people aren’t sure what they can recycle or compost or feel like it takes too much time to care about it. Gonzaga could offer more education to students and staff in waste management, to show how easy it is to properly dispose of your waste.

How will you continue to promote sustainability at Gonzaga?

As a student, I am still learning and growing, and I think the best way to promote sustainability is to help others learn the importance of sustainability and how easy it is to be involved. I really believe that sustainability is all about the small changes you make in your daily life, and that is the most effective way to make a difference on a personal level. By encouraging my friends and community, it makes it easier to create a campus culture that values sustainability.

How do you see sustainability intersecting with social justice issues on an institutional, country, or global scale?

I believe that sustainability is connected to social justice on every level. Again, with the idea of the 7th generation, many indigenous communities have valued and practiced sustainability much longer than the white global North has. In Spokane, we need to continue to support these marginalized groups and to recognize the privilege we hold and the impact we have because of our race and class. Change starts in our own communities, and because social justice is inexplicably linked to environmentalism, we have to listen to the indigenous groups in our city and the surrounding areas and recognize how climate change affects those marginalized communities.

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