Green Spotlight Blogs

The Green Spotlight blogs allow students, faculty, staff, and friends of Appalachian a chance to express, in their own words, their personal connection to sustainability.

Anisha S. - Why I am an Eco-warrior: my connection to sustainable development

It was a Friday, last period class and my biology teacher wanted to show us the documentary Water Wars. I rested my head on my arm and braced myself for the long 45 minutes ahead.  But those 45 minutes changed my life in a completely unprecedented way.  The movie was about how the privatization of water was hurting the planet and people in third world countries, but to me it was more than that.  Before I knew it, I was working on starting a “Ban the Bottle” campaign at my school (to end the sale of single-use plastic water bottles, and urge people to bring reusable bottles instead).

Adopting sustainable practices is essential, considering the increasing threats which will be posed upon human life, the earth’s resources, and delicate ecosystems (if there is a lack of action). It may take more natural disasters like Hurricane Joaquin to make policymakers and politicians take these threats seriously, but I cannot bear to wait until that happens.  I don’t want to save the earth; I want to prevent the earth from needing to be saved.  This is why I am an activist and advocate for sustainability in all realms of my life.

My first time stepping up to bring a sustainable change was when I began the “Ban the Bottle” campaign in the11th grade.  I tried to gain support, but I received mostly negative reactions which showed my peers’ general lack of interest in environmental issues.  This made me more determined to make sustainability a priority in the community, and I wanted to do it by reinforcing its value.  The summer before my senior year, I started talking with my teachers, my Dean, and students, about the idea of starting a Student Sustainability Council.  I thought that just as our Honor Board serves to reinforce the values of honor and integrity, having a Sustainability Council would reinforce values of environmental stewardship. The Student Sustainability Council that I created has the purpose of incorporating sustainability into classrooms, clubs, the cafeteria, course material and in all other sectors of the school.  

The challenges that I experienced with forming the council have helped me become a confident and vocal environmental activist at my schools and in my community.  In high school I worked as the President of the Environmental Club, the founder and president of the Student Sustainability Council (modeled after sustainability organizations at Appalachian State University), Interned with the City of Greensboro’s Recycling Education Specialist and the Field Operations Department, and was the Chair of the National Honor Society’s Environmental Awareness Committee.  I am currently still a member of Greensboro Parks and Recreation’s Clean Community Committee, an Eco-Rep for the Office of Sustainability at Appalachian State University, and TerraCycle coordinator of the Sustainable Development Student Alliance at ASU. In addition to working with my school and broader community, I realize that environmental issues are global issues.  The world has to come together in order to bring any positive change. This is why I want to start on both ends.  I want to work in my schools, my community, my city, and also on a global scale.

World leaders must come together and find global solutions for environmental threats.  The United Nations, being an international forum connects us to the world.  I had started Model United Nations (MUN) in my high school because the UN does so much for sustainable development and working to prevent major threats associated with climate change.  I also know that in order to bring any change, there has to be effective leadership.  I hope that MUN will empower future generations of students to effectively advocate environmentalism and global development, and will raise the high school community’s awareness of global issues and their implications.

The UN’s work inspires me, and has helped me develop my passion to unprecedented lengths. This is why I decided to enroll in a M.O.O.C. offered by Columbia University in Sustainable Development.  The course is taught by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, who is a personal role model of mine for his work in solving global environmental problems.  The course is titled Age of Sustainable Development, and has tied together my interests in human rights, social justice, sustainability, and global development.  Now, I am a proud Sustainable Development major at Appalachian State University.

The Native Americans said, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”.  Sustainable practices are the key for over seven billion people to ensure a prosperous planet for future generations.  I want to spend the rest of my life advocating and creating solutions for a sustainable future.


To view sustainability related news on campus go to sustain.appstate.edu/news.