Joy Scrogum is an Emerging Technologies Resource Specialist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC, a Division of the Prairie Research Institute). While she spends most of her time with zero waste projects in the Technical Assistance Program, she also works on public engagement and outreach projects like the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable, the Sustainable Electronics Initiative, the Illini Gadget Garage, and the Green Lunchroom Challenge.
She believes in setting an example to students by creating a sustainable campus.
“A sustainable campus (helps) integrate sustainability into the students’ experience and worldview,” she said. “That way, when they graduate, whatever they choose to do in life, sustainability will be part of their values and thought processes.”
It’s a tough job to make change happen on campus, Scrogum says, especially when the greatest strength Illinois has — a large campus community — is also its greatest weakness.
“We have brilliant people on this campus, who can all contribute to creative solutions, but we’re all human,” she said. “Human behavior and attitudes don’t change overnight, and it can be difficult to get humans to adopt new more sustainable habits, especially when they have so many other priorities vying for their attention. Whatever changes we make, we have to strive to make things simple and convenient.”
Ultimately, Scrogum hopes to reach more than just students when it comes to sustainability.
“I think sustainability is an essential component of everyone’s worldview, and that as parts of the same system, we all have something to contribute to a more sustainable world no matter what our backgrounds or interests are,” she said. “You don’t have to be an environmental scientist — sustainability applies to every human endeavor, even our mundane day-to-day tasks.”