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Sara McKinstry

Campus Sustainability Manager

Sara McKinstry

You're celebrating your first year as UC San Diego's sustainability manager. What have you learned so far?

I’ve learned that we are doing A LOT to be a leader in sustainability! I’ve really enjoyed my first year here getting to know and working with the many faculty, staff, students and community members who make sustainability happen across campus. From our microgrid to our cutting-edge climate research, we have much to be proud of, but we can’t rest on our laurels. We have big sustainability goals to meet over the next 5-10 years and beyond.

What are your goals for this academic year?

  • Updating the university’s Climate Action Plan to help us meet our climate neutrality by 2025 goal
  • Ensuring that we cut our potable water use even further
  • Creating more opportunities for students to become engaged in sustainability, both on and off campus
  • Greening our labs so they’re not only safe and productive but more efficient
  • Growing our sustainable food system work (pun intended)
  • Putting measures in place to help us meet our zero-waste goal by 2020
  • Helping people realize that social justice is key to sustainability: You can’t have a healthy environment without healthy people and communities
  • Collaborating with more faculty members to connect their sustainability scholarships to campus operations—our “living lab” of sustainability
  • Improving communication about what we are doing
  • Doing all of this, and more, in collaboration with others across and beyond campus: It’s all about collaboration!

What motivates you personally to be engaged in sustainability?

My three-year-old niece’s future and the kind of planet she’ll inherit. All the ecological and cultural beauty that surrounds us and we need to thrive, like: a La Jolla Coves sunset; sea horses and polar bears; orchids and deserts; music, a great book I can’t put down; an incredible meal shared with family and friends; love, always love; and, those moments when we work together to do the right thing for others and the planet.

 I’m far from perfect, but if I can reflect on my life and know I tried to make the world a better place, then I’ll have had a life worth living.