Year End & Volunteer Spotlights

Note: We suggest queuing up the song “We Are the Champions” by Queen to play on repeat as you read this post!

To all the 2018-2019 Sustain SU executive team, leadership team and student ambassadors…we did it! We have crossed the academic finish line with our reusable water bottles in hand. (Unless you’re enrolled in Spring/Summer courses too, which makes you a proverbial marathon runner!)

We hope that at some point (soon, hopefully?) the snow will stop flying long enough for you to stop and smell the flowers, literally and metaphorically.

Amidst the celebrations, the recycling or deletion of lecture notes, the sleep-ins, and the clearance of your calendars, we also hope you’ll take some time to reflect on your individual and collective successes as part of your Sustain SU team.

Whether you regard these successes as major or minor, we hope you’ll be able to appreciate the ‘butterfly effect’ these actions had. From the classroom, throughout the University, to the local community and beyond, you’ve made a difference.

To summarize, we’ll quote Vincent Van Gogh: “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” Thank you all for putting your contributions, smiles and hard work into this lean, green, eco-lovin’ machine that is Sustain SU.

We hope your spring and summer bloom into something wonderful, just like those seed packets from Volunteer Appreciation Night!


Volunteer Spotlights:

Volunteer Spotlights are individuals nominated by the Leadership Team who volunteered countless hours to the program, had a great energy and attitude in all that they did, who showed passion for sustainability and went above and beyond in their role. Half of the team’s nominated SA’s last semester, which you can find here. The nominees for the Winter semester are interviewed below:


Team: Farmer’s Market

“Most likely to be the next host of Jeopardy”

1. What’s your favourite part about being a volunteer for Sustain SU?

That I get to meet like-minded people that care as much about sustainability as I do. It’s nice to be able to talk to people that share my passion to strive for a more sustainable future.

2. What aspect of sustainability do you care most about and why?

Plastic Pollution.

3. What’s your favourite green-living tip or “hack”?

Using a shampoo bar instead of a plastic bottle. It’s great for you hair and it reduces plastic waste.


Team: Sustain X

“The Nighttime Crusader”

1. What’s your favourite part about being a volunteer for Sustain SU?

Definitely meeting a bunch of like-minded people that I’m proud to call my friends! Being involved with Sustain SU has allowed me to learn a lot about sustainability while being able to meet a bunch of amazing people that share a common interest.

2. What aspect of sustainability do you care most about and why?

As Sustain X’s Sustainability Symposium revolved around the problem of plastic waste, I do believe this is one of the the most important aspects of sustainability to me. Unlike many other aspects, the problem with plastic waste can be changed more effectively at the individual level since most people use a lot of plastic in their everyday lives. Just know that a small change in ones’ habits can go a long way in reducing their environmental footprint.

3. What’s your favourite green-living tip or “hack”?

Carrying around reusable utensils.


Team: Sustain X

“Human Personification of a Marshmallow”

1. What’s your favourite part about being a volunteer for Sustain SU?

My favourite part about being a volunteer for Sustain SU is being able to contribute to raising awareness about sustainability related issues on campus while learning more about how to be sustainable myself. I also really enjoyed being able to interact with other volunteers and share tips on how to be more sustainable in our day to day lives as well as learn more about other aspects of sustainability that they are most passionate about.

2. What aspect of sustainability do you care most about and why?

The aspect of sustainability that I care the most about is waste management/reduction. I care most about this because it is important to reduce the amount of packaging and waste that we throw away since most of them just sit in landfills and pollute the land as well as the water. It is also not enough to just recycle since at the rate that people put things for recycling, the recycling process cannot keep up with the capacity. The key then is to integrate reusable containers in our lives and reduce as much as we can the packaging wastes that we produce.

3. What’s your favourite green-living tip or “hack”?

My favourite green-living tip is bringing reusable containers with you for drinks, food, utensils as well as straws instead of using non-reusable containers when eating out.



Team: Social Media

“Most likely to have her instagram on fleek”

“The Social Media team would like to shine a spotlight on our lovely SA – Johanna! She has such a great energy and enthusiasm, and shows it through both her volunteer work and amazing dance skills. She’s been engaged and passionate about sustainability, participating in many of our lovely sustainability events this year such as the Summit and the Sustain X Gala. The Social Media LTs have voted her as “most likely to have her Instagram on fleek”. Thank you Johanna for your amazing work this year!”

1. What’s your favourite part about being a volunteer for Sustain SU?

Spreading the word about sustainability facts and events.

2. What aspect of sustainability do you care most about and why?

Climate change and sustainable consumption!

3. What’s your favourite green-living tip or “hack”?

Shop less and ditch the plastic! Swap to bamboo toothbrushes, tote bags, reusable cotton pads etc. 🙂


Team: Farmer’s Market

“Most likely to work for an environmental non-profit”

1. What’s your favourite part about being a volunteer for Sustain SU?

I love connecting with people who are also passionate about sustainability! There are so many ways to grow and learn through sharing ideas as green leaders, and cultivating those relationships has been an absolute joy.

2. What aspect of sustainability do you care most about and why?

Climate change is encapsulating of so many things – it is indicative of the health of our oceans, our forests, our communities, and so much more. It is a process that we hasten through deforestation, through the burning of fossil fuels, through poor production practices, and it in turn impacts every aspect of our world. This is why it really takes the forefront of my mind. It is both the impactor and the “impactee.” If we are ever to heal our ever damaged ecosystems, it will be through the mitigation of climate change. End of story. And this mitigation will occur through changing process that damage these exact same ecosystems!

3. What’s your favourite green-living tip or “hack”?

Find ways to change your diet! Cut out beef, go meatless on mondays, grow your own veggies – so much versatility!


Team: Reusable Dish Program

“Most likely to climb Everest and not tell anyone until afterward”

1. What’s your favourite part about being a volunteer for Sustain SU?

My favorite part of being a Sustain SU volunteer would be making tangible differences not only for ourselves, but for other student groups as well. Being a part of the RDP team, renting out our reusable dishes actively eliminated the use of disposable ones. It was rewarding to help reduce waste on campus and working with a wonderful team made the experience all the more worthwhile.

2. What aspect of sustainability do you care most about and why?

Many aspects of sustainability are interconnected. For example, water scarcity impacts agriculture, which affects sustainable food sources. While all areas of sustainability are important, climate change is like the overarching driver that impacts all these areas. We must act on climate change, which can be achieved by being more sustainable in our food production, consumption, etc., bringing this all back full circle.

3. What’s your favourite green-living tip or “hack”?

Be curious and open-minded. Explore and try new things!



Team: Sustain X

“Most likely to become Prime Minister”

1. What’s your favourite part about being a volunteer for Sustain SU?

The people! I always look forward to community hours and our meetings. I love everyone that I volunteer with and am always so impressed by how kind and know knowledgeable everyone is! They are all great role models. It’s absolutely amazing.

2. What aspect of sustainability do you care most about and why?

Reducing waste!! I think it irks me the most that our society has shifted to prefer convenience over sustainability. It is so so easy to reduce waste (especially from single-use items like straws or plastic cutlery!!!) but more often than not we choose the less sustainable option because it is too hard/we are unprepared and vendors or businesses don’t always supply a sustainable option. However, I really do have to commend Sustain SU’s efforts to reducing and diverting waste. Thanks to our volunteers, I really believe that the U of A is starting to shift towards environmental consciousness.

3. What’s your favourite green-living tip or “hack”?

I always take tupperware with me everywhere (especially student summits/big events). If you buy lunch – vendors like Fillistix will give you a discount for using them and if you don’t then there’s so much free food on campus (especially after said big events) that you can take home with you! The food will be inevitably be thrown away so its *practically* your duty! Also, I feel like if you are reading this, you probably know what the reusable dish program is … but there are still people that don’t! Tell your friends, your peers, your parents about it – let’s get the word out and reduce waste on campus.


Team: Reusable Dish Program

“Most likely to quietly take over the world – silent but deadly”

1. What’s your favourite part about being a volunteer for Sustain SU?

Being part of a supportive community!

2. What aspect of sustainability do you care most about and why?

Climate change does not only affect us but it also affects the animals and our descendants. I believe we are responsible of leaving them a sustainable future. Regarding animals, their natural habitat is being destroyed, specially for animals who live in cold environments. I want to be part of the change where these circumstances stop happening.

3. What’s your favourite green-living tip or “hack”?

Always carry cloth bags around whenever you go grocery shopping.

Volunteer Appreciation Party Recap:



The Internal Team held a volunteer appreciation event which was a huge success! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to help set-up for the event, but the rest of the Internal Team did an amazing job making the room look fantastic!  It was an opportunity to thank all the volunteers and for them to mingle with each other. Dinner was a blast, as people from all parts of Sustain SU got together to chat various things like finals, or different projects they worked through the year. The food was delicious, as we had quinoa, salad and a fancy ice cream dessert. We held a little friendly competition between teams to see who could make the best drink, with the RDP team ending up having their “Dishwater” drink featured.  After dinner, everyone got to relax together and play various games like sardines and werewolf. My favourite part by far was meeting and chatting with people from other teams in Sustain SU. Talking to them about the various projects that were done really made me realize the difference we make in terms of on-campus sustainability and appreciate how much we’ve accomplished together.


The Volunteer Appreciation Party was something I had been looking forward to for weeks! As a member of the Internal Engagement team, I was so eager to finally see all of our hours of discussing, planning and preparing come to life. More than that, I was so excited to spend time with other Sustain SU members (you’re all so great!) and to celebrate!

The setting up of the space was one of my favourite parts of the evening. Transforming the Cascade Room with handmade, sustainable decorations crafted by past and present Sustain SU members made it so special.

We had a variety of games for the evening. I remember overhearing a very heated game of UNO being played! Charades proved to be a gut-buster (and great exercise in creative thinking and teamwork!), and learning how to play Bananagrams was also a highlight. (You could say the game has always held a lot of a-peel to me, I’d just never played!)

The food was drool-worthy. I loved the diversity of offerings (more than 3 cuisines!) and the inclusivity (dietary restrictions? No problem!). Oh, and dessert! Three words: Banana. Fosters. Station. (Well, there were also pineapples and strawberries too, because why not ‘foster-ize’ them all?)

It’s been a month already, but the memories are sure to last…unlike lectures from semesters past! 😉

By The Internal Team
Lainie, Natalia, Rayyan, Sajal and Rebecca

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