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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Students for Sustainability spotlights environmental activism

Alex McIntyre

A flower blooms amongst its neighbors in the University of Arizona Community Garden on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. The garden is run by Students for Sustainability.

Students for Sustainability shines a spotlight on environmental sustainability in the local community and at the UA.

The student organization, led by Chester Phillips , was created in 2008. This Associated Students of the University of Arizona program has grown to include about 84 interns and 10 committees.

Their main goals include educating the community on environmental issues and promoting sustainability strategies. The organization also occasionally teams up with the UA Compost Cats, which recently became Tucson’s official composting service.

SFS keeps busy by participating in various events throughout the year, often partnering with local businesses and organizations. Co-Directors of the organization, Samantha Springs and Michael Rabbani, discussed the projects and future goals for the program.

Their “Break The Bag Habit” campaign started in 2013 and focuses on reducing the consumption of plastic bags at UA. Rabbani said they want to attain reusable bags and distribute them to students on campus.

At the upcoming “Tucson Meet Yourself” event from Oct. 9 to 11, the program will partner with Compost Cats to educate the public and recycle and compost material. Rabbani said that in the previous year, the group was able to divert thousands of pounds of trash through their efforts.

The various projects of SFS include receiving a grant to build a cistern on top of Highland Avenue Parking Garage, which should be completed later this year. Springs explained that this container will allow for water harvesting, which involves capturing rainwater and utilizing it in different ways, like watering plants in the UA garden.

Since the organization relies heavily on student involvement, it’s important for individuals to be motivated to volunteer and take action.

“I took an environmental ethics class and learned about moral obligation,” Springs said. “I view it as a moral obligation to do the right thing and treat the world as I would like to be treated. I want to do as much as possible to make the world a better place. It’s cool combining my love for volunteering with my love for the environment.”

Springs and Rabbani said the main focus for SFS this year is to increase outreach on campus and in the Tucson community. They are working directly with public schools to provide sustainability education to children and help schools plan and carry out sustainability projects.

They are also partnering with outside organizations in an effort to come up with ideas to promote awareness.

“One active way we have done this is by sending a survey to 10,000 students asking them basic questions about sustainability and assessing their knowledge,” Rabbani said. “This semester, we are going over these results, and will use them to better implement projects.”

The interns of SFS dedicate themselves to physical projects and community outreach.

“We want to empower our interns to be environmental leaders, to influence companies they work with and the people around them, in order to create real change,” Rabbani said.

Springs and Rabbani suggested easy ways for anyone to reduce their impact on the environment on their own, including composting, recycling, riding a bike instead of driving, turning the water off when brushing your teeth, taking five minute showers and turning the lights off when you leave your house.

Students can find information about Students For Sustainability and getting involved through their Facebook page. Intern applications for spring 2016 will be available in November and the link to fill out an application can be found at

Follow Gabriela Craft on Twitter.

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