When Path to Positive: Los Angeles members join our Leadership Circle, we ask them how they personally act on climate. Here’s what they’ve told us they do to live more sustainably and reduce energy and emissions:
Turn off the lights when not using a room.
Unplug devices when not using them.
Reduce food waste.
Take shorter showers.
Reduce meat consumption.
Reuse water when possible.
Fix any leaks.
Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances.
Install double-paned windows and insulation to reduce energy use.
Install solar panels.
Garden with California native plants.
Replace your lawn with a drought-resistant yard.
Use more public transportation.
Drive a hybrid or electric car.
Do not use bottled water.
Be conscious of packaging when buying groceries.
Buy from companies that support climate action.
Start or volunteer with a community garden.
Work to advance sustainable practices at your local school district.
Be a supporter and online advocate for environmental and climate groups.
Vote with the environment and climate in mind.
Have your own suggestions? Share them with us! #LAClimateAction
Jessica Sara Cohen is a panelist for Climate Day LA and the Waste and Recycling Administrator at USC. Before she began work at USC, she was a student leader on the university’s Sustainability Steering Committee.
Tell us about your project to reduce waste.
I manage a student-run program that focuses on educating tailgaters about recycling and compost at tailgates on USC football game days. This program started about seven years ago. On average, USC diverts 52% of our waste annually with a goal of 75% by 2020. Our Tailgate Waste Diversion Program reaches an estimated 40,000-65,000 fans via roughly 80 student-peer educators per tailgate.
What inspired you on your career path? And what or who inspires you now?
I’ve been extremely passionate about the environment since high school, when my friend convinced me to go to an environmental club meeting with her. I always loved the outdoors, but once I met the faculty advisor, Lorna Morris — and felt her passion and enthusiasm — I knew it was contagious and that it would become a long-lasting passion for me as well.
What are the barriers you face in work — and what could make your job easier?
The greatest barrier I face in my work is fostering cultural change. It’s easy to place infrastructure, but much more difficult to ensure that it’s properly used. One thing that would make my job easier is having a cultural expectation on campus around sustainability issues; students don’t seem to realize that their demands really do make a difference on campus, even if changes don’t come about as quickly as they’d like.
A genie grants you two wishes that will help fight climate change. What do you ask for? The third wish is for anything you want (sky’s the limit!).
My first wish would be that science is communicated more effectively and accepted by society at large. My second wish is that the idea of a triple bottom line becomes the standard business practice. Lastly, with my final wish, I wish that no matter where I am or what I am doing, I’ll never have to wait in a line again.