Allie Daum is a junior at UNC Asheville, studying ecology and environmental biology. Daum also serves as co-director of the Student Environmental Center.
What sustainability initiative at your school are you most proud of?
I wouldn’t say I’m most proud of any initiative in particular but rather the community I’ve witnessed being built around sustainability throughout my time at UNCA. I am inspired by all the people around me doing what they can in their own ways, such as my co-workers and some of the activists I work with.
How is your generation’s approach to sustainability different from that of other generations?
Our generation feels the pressure of climate change like none other. The plausibility of a bleak future has driven us to action by generating eco-anxiety. We also have a lot more data and history at our fingertips on things like microplastics and pollution than ever before, which has contributed to our sense of urgency to adapt solutions or preventive strategies for them. We have been made hyperaware, and we’re itching to do something about it.
What is one step people in WNC can take to promote sustainability?
Get curious! We’re in one of the most ecologically diverse regions of the Appalachians, and taking time to learn about that biodiversity and its relation to the human experience is important — and fun! Learning to respect our amazing species and the roles they play in our community is a crucial first step to sustainability. Then, do what you can to protect them — sign petitions online, join environmental organizations, educate yourself on being a responsible hiker!
Is the educational system doing enough to inform people about long-term environmental concerns like climate change?
Definitely not. I myself barely learned about climate change in school before college, and then only because of the classes I chose. I think curriculums should include a lot more of a focus on the history and causes of climate change and other environmental issues in science and history classes. There is also the matter of our schools being severely underfunded, with outdated textbooks and curriculums sometimes being the only option.