Q&A with Andy Reinmann

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Post-doctoral research associate, Andy Reinmann, discusses his 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?

I am a post-doctoral research associate working with Dr. Lucy Hutyra in the Department of Earth and Environment studying the effects of land cover change, development and urbanization on the terrestrial carbon cycle. In addition to furthering our scientific understanding of the influence of human activities on the carbon cycle, this work will assist policymakers in developing the climate change mitigation strategies that will enhance the overall sustainability of our cities.

What does sustainability mean to you?

Reducing the adverse environmental and social impacts of my existence and doing what I can to ensure that the world is left better than the way I found it.

When did you first become interested in sustainability?

I took an introductory environmental studies course during my first semester as a freshman in college…it was my first real exposure to the wonders of the natural world and the human activities that threaten it…I have never been the same since!

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

When I need to print something I can often be found digging through recycling bins in search of paper discarded by others after being used on only one side.

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

Two things:

1-Social norms and social pressure. Changing our behavior is difficult, but as a social species with an affinity for community if living sustainably become ‘cool’ individuals will be incentivized embrace such a lifestyle.

2-A sense that any one person’s actions can matter.

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

1-Reconsider your definition of ‘need’. For example “Do I NEED to get my coffee in a disposable cup every day?”

2-Quantify the environmental cost of a particular action/behavior and weigh that against the personal benefit you believe you derive from that action/behavior.

What would you recommend to someone on campus who is interested in sustainability but doesn’t know how to get their ideas off the ground?

Join student groups to amplify your voice and enter into dialog with staff and faculty you respect.

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

Increase opportunities for composting and continue working towards the proliferation of green rooftops at BU. I hope to bring these to fruition by working with students, staff and faculty to build support and with Facilities Management and Planning and Sustainability@BU for implementation.

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