At a recent virtual event, Young Reporters met ASU’s Kelly Saunders, the program manager from the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service. Saunders talked about the Sustainability Solutions Festival, and how many innovators and faculty come together to solve sustainability problems.

Saunders started off by asking if any of us knew what sustainability was, which she replied is about the environment, people and money. Saunders says recycling is a good example of sustainability because “it saves our environment, it creates new economic opportunities for businesses (that) can use the recyled materials, and it helps people by keeping our environment healthy.”

She also says that sustainability is built around people, so we need to live in a healthy environment to thrive. Since people are a key component, it has a social aspect to it, too. And, it can’t be a sustainable solution if it only serves wealthy people—all people need to be impacted and helped. Sustainable solutions, Saunders says, need to be affordable.

Sustainability is a diverse and complex subject. Saunders encourages us to “make a better future for the next generation.” She asked us all what can we do in our lives that can make a better future for our kids or even for our grandkids?

Then we got to ask a few questions. I asked what was their main goal? Saunders says the goal is to inspire behavior change to a more sustainable way of living. And that sustainability takes more than one person—it happens with many thinkers coming together. She says, “Strength of one, power of many.”

Another question was, “How has the pandemic changed how we see sustainability?” ASU and its sustainability partners have come up with some engaging and inspiring ideas. One is putting on a virtual reality exhibit, where people can experience things from the comfort of their own home.

This year’s Sustainability Solutions Festival has a theme of connecting—connecting with food, connecting with our environment, connecting with healthy living and connecting with people. Saunders says the festival is for people K through Gray, so there’s something for everybody! Many of the events geared toward kids will happen in April. There will be Zooms where kids and teens can share their sustainability ideas on research or a community project that they are doing, or hearing from some special guests.

Starting now and with you—let’s make 2021 and the years that follow a better time, and make our community a better place.

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