Lesly Figueroa

Carbon Neutrality Initiative Fellow

How has being a Carbon Neutrality Initiative (CNI) Fellow affected/shaped your view of sustainability?

The Carbon Neutrality Initiative Fellowship has shaped the way I look at sustainability at a local and global level. The resources I have received have made me even more passionate about my work and helped me develop tangible goals for the future. The fellowship has connected me with sustainability fellows at other UC campuses. We are able to share our experiences, think of larger issues and use creative problem solving to improve and reach our sustainability goals at the campus and system-wide level.

Tell us about the Environment Advocates program that you are creating in conjunction with the CNI program.

The UC San Diego Sustainability Ambassadors Program is a volunteer peer education program. It will educate and engage students through peer education and programming designed to raise awareness. Six ambassadors will each focus on an area or subject to educate the student body on (climate change, food systems, public/environmental health, waste/recycling, renewable energy/green technology, and facilities management). The ambassadors will play an essential role in UC San Diego Sustainability, training and educating other students through educational workshops, projects and social media engagement. The program aims to incorporate culture, art, politics and social justice into all disciplines of sustainability education.

What drives you to be sustainable? 

I think my family and love for the outdoors drives me. In particular, my dad has always taught me to care for nature and the planet to help ensure people's health. He works for waste and recycling in my Coachella Valley home town and loves the outdoors. My dad is one of my biggest inspirations; his love and commitment to farming and gardening is something I truly admire about him. In this way, sustainability education has always been in my life. Understanding that to build healthy communities, you need a healthy environment drives me to act on sustainability issues. Making sure everyone has equal access to a healthy environment and basic human rights like clean water and air is one of the points that drives me to continue my work in sustainability. 

I like to think of all I am doing as something bigger than me. Caring for and working with others to make certain we are able to live long, healthy lives, while enjoying the beautiful world we live in makes sustainability worthwhile, So, if everyone incorporated sustainability into their daily lives, we could make further progress and actually create a bigger change. Everything is possible when communities organize for change. As the environmentalist John Muir said, "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world." 

Lesly Figueroa