College Outreach

Students at American University Talk Sustainability

Last week, Diana Ortiz—a communications coordinator at the Rainforest Alliance—spent four days on tour with the band GROUPLOVE as part of Reverb’s Campus Consciousness Tour (CCT). Half music tour and half environmental consciousness movement, the CCT offers the Rainforest Alliance a one-of-a-kind opportunity to connect with college students on their campuses. She writes…

Gus Rapoza, Kristina Lervaag and Yusuke Tajima  shared their thoughts on sustainability.

Gus Rapoza, Kristina Lervaag and Yusuke Tajima shared their thoughts on sustainability.

During my four days on the Campus Consciousness Tour, I interacted with hundreds of students from many different backgrounds and academic programs. It became clear to me that the majority of them had something in common: they wanted to use their talents and passions to create a better world. It was refreshing to be surrounded by so many bright young adults who were eager to make a difference.

I had the pleasure of meeting one such group of students during the American University tour stop. I was at the Rainforest Alliance table in the on-campus “eco-village”—a daytime gathering with giveaways, educational opportunities and games that preceded many of the GROUPLOVE shows—explaining how students could support a healthier planet by purchasing products with the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal, when I met a group of students from the school’s International Environment and Development program. Kristina Lervaag, Yusuke Tajima and Gus Rapoza were brimming with excitement as they told me about an upcoming trip to Costa Rica with one of their environmental classes. They were looking forward to learning about Costa Rica’s biodiverse ecosystems—specifically the importance of bats and frogs to forests, and coral reefs and sea turtles to oceans.

Students take the pledge to Follow the Frog at American University.

Students take the pledge to Follow the Frog at American University.

“I decided to study the environment because I love nature. I love forests, rivers and mountains. I want learn how we can protect and preserve these beautiful things for the future,” said Tajima, an international student from Japan.

I asked the group how they thought that we, as consumers, can help protect the planet. “I try to get my family and friends to support local farms. I also try to be an educated consumer and know where my food is coming from. I’m doing my part with small actions,” said Rapoza, a visiting student from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Lervaag, an international student from Norway, chimed in, “I’ve been a vegetarian for about a month. I gave up meat after learning about the cattle industry. Then we learned about ocean trawling and I gave up fish, too.”

I pointed out that there are sustainable alternatives to these products, such as beef produced on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms in Brazil, so it’s not necessary to give up certain foods altogether in order to support a healthier planet. Tajima added, “One way to help protect the environment is to buy sustainable products, especially ones certified by organizations like the Rainforest Alliance.”

Meeting this trio and many others on tour gave me a glimpse of our future leaders. I was inspired by their commitment to supporting a greener world. “I feel like I can’t just sit there, watch all the harm that’s being done to the environment and do nothing about it,” said Lervaag. “Any little bit helps.”

Learn more about the Rainforest Alliance’s Campus Initiative.

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