Tuesday, January 21, 2014

February 2014 Sustainability Profile: Darlene Khalafi

Each month, our newsletter features a person or group on campus that is working toward a more sustainable world. This month features Darlene Khalafi, the newest member of the Sustainability Office Staff and a UCSC alumna who was involved in sustainability work as an undergraduate.

Name & Job Title: Darlene Khalafi - Sustainability Office Manager/Events Coordinator

Academic Background: Graduated from UCSC with a major in Environmental Studies combined with Biology, class of 2011

Previous Student Organizations: Stevenson Reslife (Residential Advisor); Path to a Greener Stevenson & Stevenson Garden; Student Environmental Center intern for Gardener's Alliance Gatherings (GAG); Climate Organization, Outreach, & Leadership (COOL); Site Stewardship Intern; and Seymour Center Volunteer

Photo by Adam Ghahate

We asked Darlene what she thinks about sustainability and how it relates to her work at UCSC.

What does "sustainability" mean to you? Sustainability is an interesting word because it means so much and it's so big that it's actually kind of difficult to grasp. It's an evolving definition; but the way I utilize the word today is to live my life in a way that takes action with respect toward natural systems, the environment, and all living beings. As someone who promotes sustainability, I am an advocate for life, fairness, and the well-being of things.

Favorite Green Tip: Always look for new ways to be resourceful. Being "green" is all about adaptability and getting creative! I love to repurpose things, so looking on my desk right now, I've reused a bread bag to hold my lunch, put my pencils in an old spaghetti jar, and have a notebook made from single-printed sheets and a cereal box cover.

What are you up to when you aren't at the Sustainability Office? Volunteering at the UCSC-USGS Sea Otter Research Cooperative, gardening at the Live Oak Grange, promoting alternative transportation with Ecology Action, or selling bread at farmer's markets for Beckmann's Old World Bakery

How does sustainability relate to your role at UCSC? What is one cool thing you've done to make UCSC a more sustainable place?
Sustainability was a big part of my undergraduate education. I incorporated it into all aspects of my life. As an RA, I helped start an accredited sustainable living co-curricular residential life program in Stevenson. While leading Path to a Greener Stevenson, I was one of the initial groundbreakers of the Stevenson Community Garden. I also held an internship every quarter with places like the Student Environmental Center, Site Stewardship, and the Seymour Discovery Center. I graduated an Environmental Studies/Biology major in 2011.

As a newly added member to the Sustainability Office staff, my job is to empower students and UCSC affiliates to lead their own projects promoting sustainable practices on our campus to make UCSC a brighter, greener place. I also want to help make sustainability "cultural" by doing my part to create a positive mindset founded in environmental awareness and the interconnectedness of all things.

This year, UCSC's Chancellor Blumenthal has implemented the Chancellor’s Sustainability Challenge to push the campus to reduce our waste, helping us in the long run to reach our Zero Waste by 2020 Goal. How do you practice sustainability and reduce waste in your own life? 
I try to throw away as little as possible. We compost and recycle at my house, so now we're at this point where we are trying to reduce what's ending up in our garbage bin. It's sad when I have to throw something away because there really is no other option for it. To solve this, I have to be more conscious of the types of packaging products come in and make sure that the products themselves are made to last and are repairable rather than made to be replaced.

Have you had a favorite sustainability moment at UCSC?
This year, my favorite 'sustainability moment' happened at the Inter-Organizational Retreat. Realizing how many people on campus are working everyday toward the same goals and aspirations, is definitely empowering. There are literally hundreds of us. I connected to a strong sense of community while watching everyone interact so closely with all these people they've never even met before. It's truly inspiring.

Find me at the Sustainability Office in Kerr 118, call me at 831-459-2182, or email dkhalafi [at] ucsc [dot] edu.


Jill Tokutomi said...

She sounds like a pretty cool lady!

Amber said...

cool Darlene! I was in Stevenson with this girl, great to see her blossoming into a leader!