Q&A with Molly Wilder

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sustainability@BU intern, Molly Wilder, discusses her thoughts on sustainability in this Q&A as part of our What You’re Doing series focusing on the sustainable actions of faculty, staff, and students at BU.

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Who are you and how does sustainability fit in with what you do at BU?

My name is Molly Wilder, and I’m a grad student in Energy and Environmental Analysis, working as an intern at sustainability@BU. My studies are split between the hard and quantifiable science of climate change, and the social methods in which to convey this message and make real world changes. My work with BU is focused on education and spurring adjustments in behavior to be more eco-friendly in implementing Green Office Certifications.

What does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability to me means reducing your environmental impact as much as possible. Consuming less energy, water and “stuff” doesn’t have to change how you live your life or the fun you have, and it really makes a positive difference in the long run.

When did you first become interested in sustainability?

Nature has always been my sanctuary. I find peace and joy in being outdoors. I’ve been camping, backpacking and hiking since I was in grade school, and when I began to learn about climate change, deforestation and loss of biodiversity in middle school I started looking for ways I could help stop these things from happening. That opened the door to me discovering not only ways I could pitch in, but societal and political avenues for change, and the barriers that face real impact from taking place.

What is one thing you do on a daily basis to help make the campus more sustainable?

I probably really annoy people, following them around, turning out lights, but it’s a pet peeve of mine to see a room with a light on that no one’s in. I sit in the dark, or really the natural light, a lot; I only use light in the room I’m in when it’s dark. I unplug appliances when they’re not in use. I don’t use plastic bags or disposable eating supplies: I have my own mug, water bottle and bowl. I walk everywhere-it’s the best way to know your way around!

What do you perceive as the biggest barrier for BU students, faculty, and staff to adopting more sustainable behaviors?

The biggest obstacle to people modifying their actions in my mind is the perception that sustainability/environmentalism/“greenness” has in the broad sense, that it’s a right/left issue. Taking care of our planet shouldn’t be about politics, it should be about taking care of our future and each other. I want my children’s children’s children to be able to enjoy the sun setting on the ocean while being able to breathe clean air and drinking fresh water just like I do, and I don’t understand how that’s just not seen as a human issue. We need to strip way the biases attached.

How would you challenge BU community members to live less wastefully?

There are such simple things that we can each do every day that really don’t require extra effort, yet can really help in reducing our waste: don’t turn on a light if you have a window or its night, and only in the room you’re in; use your own mug or water bottle; wash your clothes in cold water-it helps retain color and uses less energy!; as long as your professor’s ok with it, email them your paper instead of printing it; walk-the weather’s finally lovely and it improves your health as well!

What would you recommend to someone on campus who is interested in sustainability but doesnt know how to get their ideas off the ground?

The simplest and quickest way to learn about sustainability on campus is to check out our website at bu.edu/sustainability. There’s so much information on there, including events, actions one can take, news about what BU is doing and how to get involved. We have amazing resources at BU, and the website is the first step.

What are your hopes for campus sustainability in the future at BU and how do you plan to help the community achieve these goals?

It’s incredibly exciting that we’ve reached our goal of carbon reduction as a campus ahead of time, but I think we can do more. If we continue to utilize more renewables and carbon reducing energy methods we can see that percentage decline more. I think BU has a great number of students, staff and faculty interested in sustainability not only on the campus level but beyond, and I think we can be a leader in getting the message out. If nothing else I want to be a mouthpiece for promoting how easy it is to participate and help reduce your impact, and let people know it’s fun too! Being sustainable helps you connect with your community and gives you a sense of well-being and accomplishment. I want to help people realize that.

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