A bit about you?
My name is Aryana Singh. I am a fourth year undergraduate student at UTSC double majoring in biochemistry and human biology. Aside from being a student, I have also been the president of EPSA for that last year. EPSA is the Environmental and Physical Science and Student Association, which is a DSA association for the department of physical, and environmental sciences. I’m also an undergraduate research student and I work with Maria Dittrich in the biogeochemistry group. The focus of her research is looking at the sediment water interface of different water bodies around the province of Ontario including Hamilton Harbour. In the past I have been a part of the Sustainability office for my first year to the end of my second year as a peer educator. I think it really helped me grow as a person and understand more on what we can do on campus to improve sustainability and brighten the minds of students here as wells as the staff and faculty. In addition to being a peer educator, I was also a mentor with the Department of Student Life during my second and third year of undergraduate studies.
What does sustainability mean to you? How does it relate to your life?
To me sustainability means putting your best foot forward. The world that our parents lived in was such a different world in that they never considered the implications that a lot of their actions had on the environment, ecosystems, and diversity. But in our time, when we are looking at the actions of the past, we are looking to remediate that, and fix the problems of the past generations. So putting our best forward in this case would mean taking what has been done in the past and improving it by creating new projects and new initiatives that future generations would also benefit from.
How did you get involved in sustainability or interested in making an environmental difference in your life?
The very start of my involvement in sustainability was in high school when I was involved in the Eco club. I mainly joined because I knew people in the group and like the direction they were going in and introduce different things in the school. Then I pursued post-secondary studies, and I wanted to continue being sustainable so I joined the UTSC Sustainability Office Peer Educator team.
I try commuting as much as a I can. I’m also trying to convert to vegetarianism. For events for campus groups that I am apart of, I really try to push not being wasteful in terms of the materials we use.
What are a few suggestions you would say to encourage people to be more environmentally conscious and make sustainable choices in their daily lives?
For starters, I think it is important to understand that there is a need for you to change your lifestyle. So sitting down with yourself and asking yourself what I can change in my life is important. Many people also assume that we don’t need to worry about being sustainable, because they assume that one-person can’t have impact on the world. But change does start with one person.
What do you think is the biggest challenge UTSC members face, preventing our campus from being more sustainable?
The biggest challenge is getting the word out to people, because there are countless of things being advertised at once on campus so getting your information out is challenging, because there is only so much information that one can retain.
UTSC as a whole don’t contribute largely to energy consumption or waste, but anything we can do or say to make a statement is good. For example, Earth Tubes, which looks at different ways of using energy. Earth Tubes is a system that was implemented in the environmental and chemistry building when it was being built and it is an underground tunnel system that takes air from within the ground, and there is a heating system that heats the building. So energy is not required to heat the building, as it relies on this recycling system of air that is being used to heat the building.
Do you encourage your friends and family to be sustainable, if so how do you do it?
When I go out with my friend and family for dinner, I encourage them to recycle the items that should be recycled. Most recently, I also has my mom start composting and that was a victory in our household. People can be reluctant to abrupt changes so it's best to ease change into people's lives gradually rather than something that happened right away.
Who is your biggest environmental or sustainability influence?
Different organizations that promote conservation such as world wildlife fund or free the children and the work they do around the world and the impact the have on different communities is very inspiring. For example, free the children started off with one person of doing something and many years later it is this huge organization that everyone knows about. It shows that ideas can go very far.
What benefits do you get from being sustainable.
I get mental benefits in the sense that I’m not being wasteful and the impact that I’m leaving behind is not disastrous as I am proceeding through life cautiously
What is your favourite outdoor activity that is related to sustainability?
I like go on walks. I live near Sunnybrook parks so I would also go there and it such a great environment to get away from urban areas to a place that is surrounded by nature.
How do you commute to campus?
Either by TTC or carpool