Thinking green: All hands on deck

Joe Franco

Joe Franco is a senior at UNC Asheville, majoring in international studies with minors in political science and environmental studies. After graduating, he hopes to move to a bigger and more bikeable city where he intends to work in either climate justice or urban planning.

What sustainability initiative at your school are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the Campus Recreation Bike Shop. The bike shop offers free commuter rentals and repairs to all students, while faculty and staff can rent rides for an affordable price. The shop also offers mountain bikes and even has an electric bike available to rent.

How is your generation’s approach to sustainability different from that of other generations?

I think our generation is very aware that sustainability is an idea of the present and not just the future. We realize that changes need to be made now and not tomorrow. We have seen firsthand the catastrophic effects of climate change and understand that it is our responsibility to make a change and that we cannot rely on previous generations to get us out of this crisis.

What is one step people in WNC can take to promote sustainability?

Connect with other like-minded people and start talking about these issues. Through this, not only will you build meaningful connections, but in groups you can really make a difference. From food justice organizations like Bountiful Cities to climate justice groups like the Sunrise Movement, there are countless organizations doing great work to promote sustainability in all its forms.

Is the educational system doing enough to inform people about long-term environmental concerns like climate change?

While many educators are doing great work on this subject, overall, I do not think our educational system is doing enough. Far too much of my education about long-term environmental concerns has come through my own research. If we are going to truly face issues like climate change, we need all hands on deck, and for that to happen, we need an informed and motivated population, which I don’t think we have reached yet.


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