Meet Alexa Smith, a junior studying Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES) with minors in Environmental Economics and Law and the Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Fellows Program. Alexa currently serves as the student clerk on the Engagement SWATeam.
Alexa’s prior position on the Education SWATeam was inspired by her participation in a campus energy-saving program called Illini Lights Out. Hoping to achieve a holistic view of sustainability education, Alexa switched to the newly formed Engagement SWATeam in Fall 2020 to aid in their mission: elevating the Illinois Climate Action Plan goals throughout the campus and community.
Alexa’s own engagement with sustainability extends well beyond campus. During her undergrad, Alexa studied sustainable agriculture at Perrotis College in Thessaloniki, Greece. But her passion for local activism is strong as well; Alexa belongs to social entrepreneurship organization Enactus, where she is pursuing a capstone project aimed at reducing plastic waste from coffee shops in the Champaign-Urbana community.
While Alexa strives for both global and grassroots environmentalism, her personal mission is to go zero-waste. This goal is “challenging, but made much more possible by switching to a plant-based diet, shopping in bulk, and investing in reusable containers of all kinds.”
Alexa’s zero-waste journey is not hers alone — she is the proud author of Coming Full Circle, a book about the circular economy and zero waste movements that explores how we can transform our economy and environment through business. Inspired by Lauren Singer and other zero-waste advocates, Alexa hopes to encourage other young entrepreneurs to invest in the circular economy and “turn trash into cash” — and inspire the rest of us live a more sustainable life!
“Naturally as humans, with a problem so seemingly detached from ourselves, we point the finger at other groups to solve it. What we need to realize is that the solution is within us as individuals. By becoming circular and reducing waste, we can improve the health of our families, our economies, and our planet,” Alexa said.
Coming Full Circle is published by New Degree Press, and is due out in April 2021.