Amanda Gage on Living Sustainably at Wake

Meet Amanda Gage, a freshman from Chatham, New Jersey. While still adjusting to life in North Carolina, Amanda has found herself right at home in the vibrant Wake Forest community. Though passionate about many things, Amanda has honed an interest in sustainability and environmental activism; triumphing the status quo, Amanda continues to push herself to reduce waste and follow a more sustainable lifestyle. 

Her Campus: What first got you involved in sustainability? 

Amanda Gage: In the beginning, up until junior year, I was incredibly naïve. However, a farm I worked at the summer going into my senior year put in a lot of incentives to be more eco-friendly; for example, you would get an extra dollar if you rode your bike to work, or they would hand out free water bottles for you to use. I feel like when you are that close to the Earth and you can see what it can do, as cheesy as it sounds, it kind of makes you become more respectful of it. I felt so lucky that I was able to live in a place where the soil was so healthy and it made me want to work hard to protect it, so that’s sort of where it started.

HC: Can you tell me a little more about your time at the farm and where you spent your last few summers? 

AG: I just finished my second summer working at Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown, Massachusetts. It’s a seasonal farm open from May to December. I worked in the farmstand section, so I wasn’t in the field, but I would stock the produce we would get. One of the biggest aspects was that while we sold some off-island produce, we sold a lot of our own produce and the farm would make such a big deal about using the ingredients we had. Everyday, they would make us a fresh hot lunch from what we had growing on the farm. We had such a connection to the food we were selling, and so we were dedicated to making good produce. We were so proud of the produce we sold. 

In addition, I worked at the register a lot and it was fun interacting with customers. One of my favorite moments was when customers would forget their [reusable] bag and would be so apologetic, and we could reassure them saying we had paper bags they could use. It was a really big team effort — whether you were on field crew, flower crew, or farmstand crew — we were so proud of our farm and it was such a great place to work. 

HC: How has the transition into college been while trying to maintain your sustainable lifestyle and the same habits you had at home? 

AG: It’s definitely been a little bit harder. For example, at home, I would always bring my own containers or pack my own lunch in glass containers and try and stay away from single-use plastic as much as I could — again, I’m not perfect, but I feel like it’s been a lot harder to stick with that mission here.

When I went to Whole Foods, instead of using the boxes they had, I used my own containers to put my salad in with my bamboo forks. You definitely have to be more conscious of it. Anytime I leave my room, I have to have my utensils just in case as I never want to be in a position where I’m unprepared. Even in my dorm room, it's hard to be conscious of recycling because you don’t have a lot of space. 

HC: Lastly, what tips do you have for people looking to make a change in their lifestyle or to try to be more aware of their footprint on the environment?

AG: First and foremost, I think the easiest thing in the world is get a reusable water bottle. There are water refill stations all around campus and it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It’s so easy and that in itself can make such an impact. In addition, I think it’s important to just educate yourself, too. This summer, I watched documentaries such as “Cowspiracy” which is about how the meat and dairy industry has such a huge impact on climate change. Taking the time to educate yourself as I feel like a lot of people don’t know the effects of what little things can do and I feel like when you see it through documentaries and videos it can be really helpful. The other tip I have to reuse as much as possible. For example, if you finish a jar of peanut butter, use it to hold another snack. The goal is just to consume less.