Our Student Environmental Leaders

2019-2020 Cohort

Madi Braum

Aquaponics for Sustainable Food Production

Madi Braum

My project focuses on implementing a volunteer run, accessible, and sustainable small scale aquaponics system in the Greenhouse and Garden Project space on the UCSB campus, in hopes to form a community of people passionate about sustainable farming and to produce nutritious fish and leafy green produce for local food banks. Aquaponics is a sustainable farming practice combining the conventional practice of aquaculture (raising fish in a farm-like environment) with hydroponics (growing plants in water). By utilizing the 5000 gallon rainwater tank in the space as a renewable water resource, and building most of the system from scrap wood, the aquaponics system will be a low maintenance and zero-waste way to provide meals for food insecure IV/Goleta area residents.  

Elena

Artivist

Elena Salinas Otoole

For my environmental leadership project, I am working to develop a social media platform and public space (Artivist) for activist artists to amplify their voices, and connect with local and global communities to fight for social, environmental, and economic justice.  The Artivist Collective’s model is simple: Create. Inspire. Connect. Impact. Artivists create work that displays their perspective on issues they are passionate about. That work, once shared, inspires others to do the same as well as get involved with new causes. Artivists can then connect with each other to discuss these issues and collaborate to find ways to make a difference. Finally, using those newfound connections and our resources Artivists can spread the word and organize to make a lasting impact.

Naomi Summers

Bridging the UCSB Community with Channel Islands Restoration Efforts

Naomi Summer

I am focusing on bringing the community together to restore the native vegetation and help bring indigenous species away from the brink of extinction on the Channel Islands. It is going to be vital in our future to have the processes and resources in place to reverse the damage the environment has suffered over hundreds of years. I am working with local non-profits and within the UCSB community to develop volunteer opportunities for UCSB students on the Channel Islands.  I believe the experiences on the island will solidify the community’s connection to the environment and will help restore the native environment. 
 

Nora Siegler

Designing an App for Health in Harmony

Nora Siegler

I am collaborating with the organization, Health in Harmony, to design an app that will connect global citizens to rainforest communities in order to protect critical rainforest regions around the world. Protecting these regions of rainforest is essential in maintaining biodiversity and combating climate change. The purpose of this app is to share the stories of why communities are losing ecologically critical regions of rainforest and to enable individuals all over the world to contribute the necessary resources in order to protect those regions. In partnership with Health in Harmony and other digital development partners, I have lead efforts to design, develop, and implement the app.  

Leon

International Student Travel Carbon Offset Project

Leon Yang

I have created a one-month long challenge for international students to offset 1/10 of their last air flight carbon emission through behavioral changes. Also, I ask them to pledge to continue to offset the carbon for the rest of 2020 until they offset the whole emission. Now I have created a WeChat group for Chinese students to actively participate on daily carbon calculating. At the end of each week, I ask them to write a short 400 words article sharing their experience and what they learn by calculating carbon emission every day.  By sharing their experiences, I hope to encourage others to change behaviors that contribute to carbon emissions.

Kate Thomas

Alistair Dobson

Isla Vista Post-Consumer Restaurant Composting Pilot Program

Kate Thomas and Alistair Dobson

We are working to divert food waste from landfills while promoting the environmental importance of composting to Isla Vista locals. We teamed up with Isla Vista Compost Collective to set up a post-consumer composting program for several restaurants located in Isla Vista. Waste bins and weekly pickup services will be provided to participating restaurants. We plan to collect data about the weight and contamination of these food scraps for the duration of our pilot program. After which, we will assess the plausibility of a more permanent public/restaurant composting program for the city.

Joey Scordato

Isla Vista Surf Swap

Joey Scordato

My original idea was to create a swap-meet style event where people could get together and buy, sell, or trade their used surf gear. These surf swap events were intended to lessen the environmental impact of surfing in Isla Vista providing an opportunity for surfers to shop for used gear rather than new. Furthermore, these events sought to celebrate IV’s unique surf culture and promote sustainable thinking. As the COVID-19 pandemic developed and people all over the world adapted to this new threat, it became clear that my idea would have to adapt as well. Currently, I am working towards making an online interface, or utilizing an existing one, to create a space where people can share surfboards/wetsuits that they are looking to buy, sell, or trade.

Ruth Wong

No More Micro Plastic Glitter

Ruth Wong

My current project strives to raise awareness about the problem of microplastic glitter, and inspire people to contribute to real change. I am raising awareness about the harmful effects of traditional plastic glitter using online platforms, mainly Instagram and environmental blogs. I wrote an article on the issue which has been posted on the Story of Stuff blog and will hopefully soon be on Explore Ecology’s blog as well. Using the #glitterfreeoceans and providing sample tweets and posts to readers, I am encouraging people to use my hashtag and call out companies still using microplastic glitter. By putting heavy social pressure on these companies, I hope to convince them to voluntarily switch to more eco-friendly alternative glitters in their products.

Nick Biaggi

Purchasing Guidelines for Eco-friendly Ski Wax

Nick Biaggi

This project was conceived to bring awareness to (as well as solve the problem of) the environmental harm caused by the presence of petroleum-based ski wax in mountain ecosystems and to provide recommendations for eco-friendly ski wax alternatives. My work has involved online research, correspondence with manufacturers, and collaboration with Recreation Equipment Incorporated (REI) to facilitate a market shift using their brick and mortar stores as a conduit. The hope is to see legitimate change within the winter sports community and how they view their impact on the environment, namely with their use of ski wax.

Daniella Lee

Pushing for an Eco-Friendly Campus Store

Daniella Lee

My ELI project aims to create a shift towards purchasing more environmentally friendly products by the Campus Store from companies that are committed to upholding their environmental responsibility. I am inviting vendors currently with products in the Campus Store to be assessed by EcoVadis, a third-party sustainability management platform that assesses the performance of a company based on four sustainability areas: environment, ethics, labor & human rights, and sustainable procurement. Through active engagement with each company about our needs, the assessments allow for the identification of improvement areas and the creation of corrective action plan processes, working towards filling our Campus Store with environmentally minded companies.

Annika Kao

Raising Awareness about Alternatives to Fast Fashion

Annika Kao

I am creating a short film highlighting the alternatives to fast fashion from the perspective of college students. My film pieces together the story of three environmentally conscious students to showcase the amazing efforts UC Santa Barbara students are making to create a collaborative and sustainable fashion culture. The purpose of my film is to share the many resources and options that are available to students to counteract the impacts of the fashion industry. I hope this film and the characters in it will inspire others to implement changes to their fashion buying habits and choose more sustainable means of fashion!

Ryan Clarke

Reducing Our “Dirty” Laundry

Ryan Clarke

There is something deeply cathartic about taking all of your dirty laundry (literally!) and cleaning it. But there is a darker side to laundry, a tiny miniscule villain whose very power is its anonymity – microfibers. These tiny fibers are smaller than 5mm, and they contribute to the ubiquitous presence of microplastics in the environment and biota. The solution to microfiber pollution is complicated but for there to be a clear solution, first people have to know there is a problem. The aim of this project is two-fold. First, each student living in UCSB dorms will have access to Cora Balls, which are proven to reduce microfiber elution from washing. However, the more salient outcome will be the awareness raised by indirectly teaching freshmen about microfibers. If microfibers arrived into our oceans and animals through our ignorance, the best way to remove them will be through education.

Iris Chan

Reusable Utensil Revolution

Iris Chan

Banning single-use utensils has been an upward battle as the convenience that they offer is, well, convenient. It’s not that UCSB students do not understand how wasteful these utensils are, but rather, it’s that they may not see how their use may impact things in a bigger scope. I would like to change that mindset and help them see that even small changes like bringing your own reusable utensil can make a difference in your behavior, perspective on the problem, and the resources that our campus provides. I am providing students with free reusable utensils with the caveat that they help me fill out a total of two surveys, before and after receiving their reusable utensil, to help inform themselves as well as our campus.

Udval Tsolmonkhuu

Ria Bracelet, an Eco-friendly Event Souvenir

Udval Tsolmonkhuu

My project focuses on replacing wasteful giving at UCSB events with a memorable and eco-friendly alternative. The creative idea behind the Ria Bracelet, an accessory that is the keeper of your life’s most memorable moments, challenges the traditional design and purpose of your average piece of jewelry. Rather than the boring souvenirs at events – water bottles, stickers, low-quality bracelets – the Ria Bracelet will be a customizable jewelry with special inserts on the band where you can add charms that remind you of a special event, place, or anything that you desire. During the winter and spring quarters, I have focused on the creative process of finding the right materials and finalizing the design function. Once this is completed, the next step involves the best part – the prototype!

Maria Calderon

Santa Barbara for a Greener Waste System Via Bigbelly Bins!

Maria Jose Calderon

The main goal of my project is to help leading conservation agencies (e.g., Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Community College, The Santa Barbara Natural History Sea Center, The Santa Barbara Natural History Museum, The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and other local organizations) move towards a more sustainable waste system via Bigbelly Bins. My main focus has been to collaborate with the Santa Barbara Zoo to adopt these bins, due to their important geographic location and their enthusiasm towards sustainable efforts. Adoption of Bigbelly Bins will lead to more sustainable waste systems and less pollution that can impact the local environment and residents of the neighboring Bird Sanctuary.

More About Bigbelly Bins: https://bigbelly.com/platform/

More About the Santa Barbara Zoo: https://www.sbzoo.org/home/

Jadyn Steaffens

Tees for Trees

Jadyn Steaffens

The overarching goal of my project is to raise awareness about the harms of fast fashion and promote the move towards a more sustainable lifestyle through creativity. My long-term goal is to collaborate with Isla Vista artists to create environmentally charged designs to print onto secondhand T-shirts and sell to the Isla Vista community in an effort to raise funds to plant and care for urban forests. With the global pandemic, until I can proceed with my long-term project safely, I am using the Tees For Trees social media account to raise awareness about the harms of fast fashion and provide alternatives through “DIY” videos and other upcycling inspiration.

Thomas Lenihan

Unincorporated: Defunding Fossil Fuel Projects

Thomas Lenihan

My project focuses on informing and engaging students and local residents by developing and providing information about major banks and more sustainable alternatives, and encouraging people to take a pledge to divest their personal savings from banks that fund new fossil fuel projects. As an avenue for information, I have developed a website (Unincorporated.earth) that provides people with the resources necessary to take their money out of banks that are funding the climate crisis. People can maximize their impact by sending a letter to their financial institution explaining their rationale for divesting, or take action in their community by putting up informational posters freely available on the website.

Sareen Fiaz

Volunteering for IV Sustainability

Sareen Fiaz

My project focused on helping local businesses move towards sustainable materials and advancing into becoming Ocean-Certified. In order to achieve this, my goal is to work with volunteering groups on campus, obtain sponsorships with local corporations, and partner with businesses in IV. The plan is to obtain a donation from an SB-based corporation based on how many hours of volunteering service a UCSB volunteering group achieves. These funds would then be used to form a partnership with a local business to provide training in becoming ocean-certified and give back to local volunteers.

Francesca Maramonte

What Does it Mean to be Ocean Friendly?

Francesca Maramonte

Plastic waste is a social problem. It’s choking our oceans and threatening human health. My project focuses on our society’s obsession with plastic. Single-use plastics are the epitome of our current throw-away culture. It is important for people to opt out of using single-use plastics. The solution starts at the individual level, and we need to keep major companies accountable for their actions. My project focuses on inspiring people to use reusable products as well as support their local Ocean Friendly Restaurants (OFR). I have partnered with Surfrider on their OFR campaign, which collaborates with restaurants across the country to fully commit to promoting sustainable alternatives through their actions. I have worked with my local Surfrider chapter to get restaurants in Isla Vista to partner with the OFR campaign. This movement is driving the food industry towards less plastic waste. I am also promoting sustainable alternatives through a photo campaign that highlights Surfrider’s OFR program. The photos are of everyday people using reusables such as reusable shopping bags, straws, and containers. Each photo will have a fact that promotes reusables and OFR in the area. My photo campaign has a two-fold goal: to spark a change for those who don’t already use reusables and to encourage those who do to help spread the message. As a whole, we need to prioritize sustainable alternatives and make it a common value.