As the new Director of Sustainability at Illinois State University, Elisabeth Reed is using her past experience with fashion instruction to change the way ISU helps protect the planet.
What does a typical day at ISU look like for you?
Each day is a little different! I am meeting with groups on campus to discuss various sustainability projects, working with my interns, preparing for different events we are hosting, guest speaking in a class, and of course…writing lots of emails!
Why is sustainability so important on a campus like ISU?
The Office of Sustainability serves as a leader for sustainability initiatives on campus. We are committed to creating a culture of sustainability at ISU through collaboration with students, faculty, and staff; integrating best practices into campus operations and using every opportunity to educate and inform our Redbird community.
How does your background influence your passion for sustainability?
With my background in architecture and fashion, sustainability has always been at the center of my work and research.
The fashion industry is the world’s second biggest polluter, next to oil.
Whether in the production of our clothing, the rapid rate we consume it, or how quickly we are to discard of it, the current fast fashion model is anything but sustainable. The huge environmental concerns with textiles and clothing are topics I addressed in each of my classes, and continue to do so in guest lectures.
What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment in the past five years?
Fix It Friday certainly has been a point of pride for our campus. This is our 4th year in operation and we are busier than ever! Fix It Friday has won several awards, both on campus and nationwide and continues to be a great service to ISU and our community.
How helpful has the University been in helping you make a more sustainable campus?
Our students are very passionate about sustainability! I receive emails daily from students asking about anything from composting on campus to TerraCycle to hosting a campus clean-up.In order for ISU to be a more sustainable campus, all groups on campus must collaborate together. Sometimes this means spending a little more money on the more sustainable option, and other times we can find savings by being more efficient.
The most important part is that we all have the same goal—which is integrating best practices into campus operations and using every opportunity to educate and inform our students.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We will be putting out a campus wide survey to all students, faculty and staff at the end of September…so be on the lookout! This survey will help us better understand how our campus defines sustainability and what projects they would like to see us pursue. The answers to this survey will also help us develop a Sustainability Strategic Plan, so we can clearly define our goals and objectives for the years to come.
We just had a really great sustainability-themed mural put on the outside of our building, by an ISU professor/artist, Jeremy Langston. We are located at 305 N. School St, and this mural is sure to capture the attention of those walking by!