Students can incorporate sustainability into any career: here’s how

Keith Soster
Release Date: 


Keith Soster

As students graduate and head off for a diversity of careers, their efforts in sustainability don’t have to be left behind. Even if you don't have a job title that has the word green or sustainable in it, there are countless ways to bring sustainability into your job.

We often don't realize the positive impact that we can have through the decisions we make every day as employees and as consumers -- decisions that affect both the companies we work for and the planet.

Many students who I work with are not pursuing environmental degrees or career, but are dedicated to helping the planet nonetheless. And the good news is there are many ways they can. For example, business, engineering, School of Public Health (SPH) majors can make sure their work is tied to sustainability. Business majors can ensure their employers look closely at purchasing agreements, sustainable technology, and that the business itself has green initiatives. SPH majors can pursue health and wellness initiatives, eating and sourcing local, and become health and farm inspectors. Engineers can focus on product development like compostable packaging.

The possibilities are endless! Many of the first steps will be straightforward. Others will require a little innovative thinking. Here are some you can begin getting involved in sustainability at work.

Get involved in office greening program: Participate in activities that are already happening in your office such as recycling, alternative commuting or employee engagement programs. If these don't exist, start one.

Look at your company's position on sustainability: Does your company have a sustainability strategy? Does it produce a sustainability report? If it does, take a look at it and see how this relates to your work. If it doesn't have a strategy, again, why not work to create one?

Take a look at your own job: Explore ways to incorporate sustainability into what is already in your job description and the goals of your team. Are there places you could cut waste? Engage your suppliers? Change the way something is designed?

Create a partnership: Speak to people in the company to connect with others who are interested or are already working in sustainability. Talk to people outside the company to learn about how they are working on sustainability within their own companies.

Share your experiences: Write articles, speak at events and share your experiences in working on sustainability issues in the workplace, the challenges you have faced and how/if you overcame them. Speak up about the areas you think need more work.

Stay informed: Look at professional or other organizations to which you already belong to see what they are doing in this area. Pretty much every profession and industry is now getting involved in the sustainability discussion and will have tools and information relevant to the work you do.

Keith Soster is the Director of Student Engagement for MDining. At the core of Keith’s work is outreach, putting him in constant with students, suppliers and campus stakeholders with a focus on advancing initiatives for a greener, healthier campus. He is responsible for student and community connections both on and off campus, and serves as the sustainability lead for Student Life.