Staff Profile: Gina Talt '15

Posted on September 20, 2016

Class year: 2015

Major: Economics

Professional role and organization: Campus as Lab Fellow with the Office of Sustainability at Princeton University

How do you define sustainability? I like to think of sustainability in terms of one of my favorite quotes from the environmentalist David Brower: “We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” In other words, sustainability to me means engaging in behaviors and using resources in a way that preserves the long-term functioning of our planet for future generations.

How does your work relate to sustainability and how did Princeton prepare you for your role? As a former member of Greening Princeton (now known as Green Princeton), I helped bring mixed recycling to campus by conducting a pilot study in two dorms in order to convince the University that mixed recycling would help increase the campus's recycling rate. The pilot study involved calculating recycling rates before and after implementing mixed recycling in the dorms, and educating the students living in them about the new system. Both the recycling rate data and results from the student surveys convinced the University to adopt mixed recycling on campus by indicating a 20 percentage point increase in the recycling rate and 100 percent student satisfaction. View the full results of our pilot study in the final report (.pdf).

I enjoyed engaging students about more sustainable behaviors through this effort which is why I have returned to Princeton to promote sustainability problem-solving within the campus community under the Campus as Lab program.

What advice would you offer to students seeking to focus on or incorporate sustainability in their careers? Take advantage of all of the different opportunities and resources available on campus -- from guest lectures, classes, student groups, professors, breakout trips, etc... -- to find an area of sustainability for which you are most passionate. And don't be afraid to step out of your comfort box and try something new or different to do so!