In a little more than half a year, 72 employees have done their part to make the campus greener as UAB’s Sustainability Ambassadors. The ambassadors create a network among buildings to promote sustainable ventures to their colleagues and help implement educational programming tailored to the needs of the units they serve.
Peggy Biga, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Biology, says she became a Sustainability Ambassador due to her passion for recycling. She knows it’s easy to prioritize recycling at home, with access to bright blue bins and curbside pickup, and believes it’s important to transfer that passion to recycling at work.
One of the ways she has encouraged her unit to recycle is through participation in Green Labs, which aims to reduce the use of energy, water, material goods and hazardous chemicals in UAB labs without compromising research integrity or safety. Biga’s lab recycles gloves — a simple choice that illustrates for other biology labs just how easy it is to make sustainable choices. Biga’s lab has earned a silver certification, meaning they have implemented 60-69% of suggested sustainable changes, such as unplugging lab equipment, defrosting freezers when possible, using recyclable or rechargeable batteries and recycling pipette tip boxes.
“It’s a sticking point for me to get involved with how we at UAB can work with the community to make change and be more involved in creating a cultural shift toward prioritizing recycling,” Biga said.
Interested in becoming a Sustainability Ambassador?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to express interest or nominate a colleague.
When talking with her biology colleagues about sustainability, she often opens by asking, “How much do you care about the amount of garbage humans produce?” That simple question, she says, can spin off into a discussion about employees’ positions as sustainable role models to students on campus.
“We have the opportunity to teach students about things like recycling and composting,” Biga said.
Shantay Williams, program manager in the School of Nursing, became interested in sustainability after following news coverage of climate change — so much so that a year ago, she enrolled in a course on sustainability in construction at Jefferson State Community College to learn more.
“I want to do my fair share,” Williams said. “We’re trying to preserve the Earth’s resources for generations to come.”
Williams has channeled that passion into her role as a Sustainability Ambassador for the school, which began its own sustainability committee. Right now, each SON office has a recycling box, and the committee is reviewing more options for small, yet meaningful changes.
“It’s so important for UAB to be on the forefront of sustainability efforts,” Williams continued. “We are the largest employer in the state. We already have that title, so we have to be the trailblazers and the leaders. If we can do it while employing all these people, maybe it can spark interest in others.”
Interested in becoming a Sustainability Ambassador? Ambassadors must be full-time, benefits-eligible faculty or staff with the support of their direct supervisor who have an interest in sustainable practices and the abilities to serve a one-year, August-to-August term. Attendance is required at a start-up luncheon in October and a second meeting in April. Ambassadors must keep in regular contact with UAB Sustainability regarding updates from their units and events.Email email@example.com to express interest in joining the ambassador program or nominate a colleague you think would be a good fit.