Becca Wright: Sustainable Sweetheart

Many people are passionate about protecting the environment, especially during Earth Week. But Becca Wright, a third-year journalism student, takes that to a new level by working in the Office of Sustainability. Read on to learn more about Becca, the OoS, and how you can better take care of our earth.

Image Credit: Becca Wright

KL: What's your major?

BW: I am a journalism major and environmental law minor! I am also pursuing a new media certificate and a sustainability certificate.

KL: What are you involved in on campus?

BW: Lol, everything it feels like. I am a photographer for the Red & Black, a board member of Bag the Bag, and a video producer for the Chapel Bell. I'm also on the leadership team at my church, Christus Victor Lutheran Church and Student Center. Finally, I am the student media assistant at the Office of the Dean of Students and the video production intern at the Office of Sustainability.

KL: What does sustainability mean to you personally?

BW: Sustainability involves so much, it's hard to narrow it down to one idea. When we talk about sustainability, we talk about the social, economic, and environmental impact of our actions and how they affect the next generation. I think it's really easy to get trapped in the idea of "Oh, I have to have an ecology/environmental economics/forestry degree in order to be sustainable." In reality, sustainability is interdisciplinary, and I think that everyone should be striving to be sustainable, no matter what their background is. 

KL: What is your role in the Office of Sustainability?

BW: I am the video production intern at the Office of Sustainability (OoS).

KL: What does the Office of Sustainability actually do? 

BW: The Office of Sustainability is made up of three full-time staff members, one part-time staff member, and about twenty interns. Funded by the $3 "Green Fee" tacked onto every student's tuition, we help create and implement sustainability initiatives on campus. For example, less than ten years ago the waste management and recycling system at UGA was incredibly inconsistent. The zero waste intern at the time, Mason Towe, helped standardize every trash and recycling bin in every building to help students, faculty members, and staff understand waste management better and to divert recyclable material from going into the landfill. Every intern has a role at the Office, whether it's the Bike Share intern, Chew Crew intern, communications, artist in residence, social marketing. There's a lot going on.

KL: Outside of your internship, how do you practice sustainability? 

BW: As the video production intern, I document the projects of the other interns at the OoS. Because I am learning from my peers, I take what I learn and apply it to my life. I often talk about how trash and recycling is my life; I have learned so much about what to throw away, what to recycle, what we can compost, and where it all actually goes. This has helped make me more cognizant of the waste I produce and how to minimize that impact on the earth. 

KL: When and why did you become so passionate about protecting the earth?

BW: I took AP Environmental Science (APES) my senior year of high school. It was my second favorite class, right behind Yearbook. We did this project called "APES in the News" where we had to find news articles in our local paper that dealt with the environment. It was difficult because there were so few stories about the environment despite living in Savannah, Georgia, where not only does the environment play a huge role but also people move to Savannah because of the beautiful marshes, beaches, and nature. I was so frustrated that people were denying climate change despite the fact that Savannah will be one of the first places hit because of it. That's when I knew that I had to pursue environmental journalism. The more we read about sustainability, the more we will talk about it and initiate change in our behavior.

KL: What's your biggest environmental pet peeve?

BW: Hmm. Probably when I find food and drink in recycling bins. Like food and drink are obviously nOT RECYCLABLE PEOPLE YOU CANNOT TURN FOOD INTO SOMETHING ELSE AHHHHHHHHHH. Also, it potentially ruins all the recyclable material!!! Think before you throw, friends!!!

KL: What tips can you give our readers for how to live more earth-friendly lives?

BW: Personal sustainability is more attainable than you think. Little changes over a long period of time can make a big change! If you buy coffee at a coffee shop 300 days of the year, you use 300 disposable coffee cups a year. Change to a reusable coffee cup, and you save 300 cups from the landfill. Don't use disposable straws. Bring your own silverware so you don't have to use plastic silverware. Stop buying styrofoam. When in doubt, throw it in the trash. Don't put your plastic bags in the recycling bin; take them back to the grocery store. Or just don't use them at all and invest in a reusable bag. Visit your landfill, go to the recycling center, see where your trash goes. Until we understand these things, we will continue to have a disassociation with our trash.

KL: What's your favorite outdoor spot in Athens?

BW: OOH. Ben Burton Park or the Founders Garden at UGA. Or the State Botanical Gardens in the morning when it's not too hot, and the inside garden when it gets hot. The light is always beautiful in the morning. But also, most places are beautiful around 8:00 in the morning when the sun is still soft. 

KL: Anything else you want to share?

BW: Listen to my podcast Trashed: Exploring the Products of a Throw-Away Society! <3