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Igniting Change through Sustainability

Matt Ashcroft, Ellen Mook and Joey Camilleri ignite change through sustainability
Left to Right: Matt Ashcroft, Ellen Mook and Joey Camilleri

We interviewed members of the Campus Sustainability Plan Student Working Group:
Matt Ashcroft, Ellen Mook, Anna Chan, Joey Camilleri


What are your majors/areas of study?

Group: We are all in the Masters of Sustainable Engineering (MSSE) program. Matt and Joey are in the Renewable Energy track, while Anna and Ellen are just starting at Villanova this semester.

What made you choose that as your primary educational interest?

Matt: I see engineers as being responsible for bettering people’s lives through effective technology, planning, etc. I wanted to study sustainable engineering specifically because I see sustainable development as the key challenge of my lifetime to ensure that the quality of life we enjoy today continues for centuries.

Anna:  Whatever I do for the rest of my life I want to be able to make a positive difference in the world.

In your own words, how would you define sustainability, and why is sustainability important to your group?

Group: Enough, for all, forever. This is important to us because our work is about making the world a better, safer, healthier, prosperous, and equitable place for everyone using the U.N.’s sustainable development goals.

What steps have you taken to live more sustainably?

Anna: Limit the amount of meat that I purchase and consume, buy produce from local farms when possible, look for ethically made products, and try to reduce the amount of waste that I produce.

Joey: I take a lot more care in how I dispose of waste. I’m very careful about what I put into single stream receptacles, and always look for ways to reuse something before I dispose of it.

Ellen: I use reusable grocery bags and fruit/vegetable bags at the grocery store, buy food in bulk and use reusable bags to seal food items individually, use bar soap and try to not buy plastic.

What are you/your group doing to make the campus, region or world more sustainable?

Group: Our research project is all about helping private organizations make the best sustainable decisions with the limited resources that they have available. Our goal is to develop processes for prioritizing, scoring, and modeling sustainability projects to determine which ones would provide the biggest bang for the buck.

If you could take your dream course on sustainability, what would the course focus on?

Joey: My dream course on sustainability would either be one that teaches you how to live your life to produce the minimal amount of waste, or one that teaches you how to respectfully and convincingly teach climate change skeptics about anthropogenic effects on the environment.

What advice would you give freshman hoping to get involved with the sustainability?

Group: Join the sustainability freshmen learning community! Get in touch with Liesel Schwarz, the campus sustainability program manager, about getting involved with the campus garden, bike share program, or any other sustainability initiative.

Do you talk to your friends about sustainability?

Joey: I talk to my friends about sustainability a lot, particularly about plastics. They call me a plastics snob, but I think I’ve gotten them to change their behavior in some ways.

What are some personal sustainability goals you’re currently working on?

Matt: I am a sucker for long, hot showers, so I need to work on that!

Joey: I’m trying to grow some of my own food, which is difficult because I live in an apartment. That being said my cherry tomatoes are prize worthy. I’m essentially the tomato king now.

Ellen: I am trying to bike and/ or walk to campus more.


Learn more about Villanova University’s Sustainable Engineering program!