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Sustainability

URI Green Thinker


Pete Rolashevich

 
Graduation year:  2013, Graduate Student
Major:  Environmental & Natural Resource Economics (M.S.)
 
Position:  Sustainability Intern
Department: Office of Sustainability, Campus Planning and Design
 
 
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability to me is about reaching a level of harmony with our daily actions and the environment by finding equilibrium between what we take from the planet and what we give back to it. Sustainability is about having a mindful presence for the actions that we take to ensure our economy still functions, making sure we are not slowly destroying the planet with wasteful or harmful habits, and making sure that everyone plays a part as environmental issues effect everyone. Sustainability entails a high level of understanding and planning, but most of all, the will to see positive change.


Which URI project or program related to sustainability should we be the most proud of?
All of the projects on the URI campuses are something that we can be proud of. If I had to choose one it would be the enthusiasm because seeing students, faculty, and staff concerned about environmental issues and seeking a proactive approach to solving current and future problems is the most important thing that can come out of any project.
 
How are you involved with campus sustainability at URI? 
Currently, I am working on updating the GHG Emissions Inventory for all of the URI campuses. In this process, I get to see firsthand the progress that this school has made in reducing its impact on the environment and adopting more sustainable practices. In my own department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, I seek ways that the department can integrate more sustainable practices, such as using reusable water bottles, shutting off computers at night or when not in use, shutting off lights in unoccupied rooms, and carpooling to events that we attend.
 
What can URI do to be greener?
URI can help educate its students, staff, and faculty in a way that helps eliminate any type of apathy and ignorance. When people start understanding how their actions effect the environment and they start to care for it, they will start to understand the importance of sustainability. The campus can also make it more convenient for those attending and working here to become greener, by incorporating a greener lifestyle into everything that we do, from learning in the classroom, to recycling, to reducing our consumption and waste. How we chose to design and interact with the campus will determine how green we can become. Planning for the future will also be necessary, with updates in new technology, new fuels, and new infrastructure coming so often, URI will eventually have to assimilate these new projects into the campus lifestyle so that we can reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and plan a smarter campus.
 
 
What do you do in your personal life to be green?
First, I reduce my consumption as much as possible and avoid wasteful habits. This includes not using energy in a way that is going to both increase my utility bills, but also producing waste from things like product packaging, non-recyclable containers, taking shorter showers to save water, and only using electronic devices when necessary. Second, I reuse everything that I can. I don’t use one time use only products to avoid excessive waste, and I don’t throw anything away until the end of its lifecycle. Third, I recycle everything that cannot be reused that I possibly can. At the end of the week, it is a rare occurrence that I have produced more than ¼ of a bag of garbage and thanks to some good planning, it is very easy to do, it’s all about incorporating these actions into your daily lifestyle. I also try to limit my personal driving and when I have to, I use a fuel efficient, Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) to get from place to place. I also spend plenty of time outside appreciating the beauty that the planet has to offer. A low-energy, environmentally friendly lifestyle can be very rewarding and make you very happy.

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