Meet Elizabeth Petersen '20



Government Major

Spanish Minor

Treasurer, Augie Green


Q. What are you currently doing in your everyday life for sustainability?
A. My friends and I recently moved into an off campus house. The steps that we were already taking in the dorms to be more sustainable (recycling everything that can be, using reusable coffee mugs and silverware, unplugging things that aren’t being used, etc.) became an even bigger task. In my house (as I am writing this at the end of July) we keep the air conditioning off or set to a very high temperature during the day while no one is home in order to use less energy to cool the home. We also only use reusable bags when getting groceries. All of those plastic bags are unnecessary and find their way to the ocean and landfills.

Q. What are you currently doing at Augustana for sustainability?
A. Bring your own coffee cups to The Huddle! The plastic waste from that iced coffee transfer meal can be easily lessened by bringing a reusable bottle. I have one that will even keep my coffee colder or hotter longer, which is much better than the throwaway containers that you get at The Huddle. And if I do forget the reusable bottle, I am sure to rinse out my plastic coffee cup and recycle it on my way to class.

Q. What are your plans for increasing sustainability in the future?
A. Increased awareness of the ease of recycling is key. Most people are too afraid to put things in the recycling bin because they are unsure of what goes in and what does not. New students to Augustana should get information as to what can and can’t be recycled by the Sioux Falls recycling system! All cities are different in what they are capable of recycling (Sioux Falls can recycle a lot more things than my small town recycling center!) and informing new students will empower them to make better recycling habits.

Q. Why are you interested in sustainability?
A. We are just borrowing this Earth from the creatures that are currently inhabiting it and will inhabit it in the future. Knowing that there are actions that I can take right here at home that can make the world of a difference for whole ecosystems is a big driving factor for me.

Q. What tips do you have for other Augustana students who want to be more sustainable?
A. When eating in the commons, only take the amount of food that you know you can eat--food waste is huge and very easy to combat! Unplug your phone and laptop chargers when not using them. The phantom energy is taking up more energy resources than one would think. And proudly carry around your Hydroflask or water bottle of choice around campus. Fill it up with pop or coffee at the commons (my personal favorite is filing it up with the lemon infused water--yum!) and reduce the amount of plastic waste around campus.

Q. What do you think is the easiest way to be more sustainable?
A. Shut off lights and unplug your devices when not in use! You won’t even miss them, especially those cute little string lights you have in your dorm room. If you’re not in the room, it doesn’t need to be well-lit. The University will thank you for the lower energy bill and the planet will thank you for using less of its natural resources.

Q. In what areas do you think Augustana needs to improve in (related to sustainability)?
I’m really glad that Augie is starting to meter each building to see energy usage, but I could see the University doing better in water usage. We definitely don’t have to water the grass as much as we do, and maybe we can find a way to incentivise students to use less water in the dorms.

Q. What would you tell an Augustana student who says they’re “too busy” to be sustainable?
Sustainability is easy once you know what you’re doing! Living a sustainable life doesn’t have to be extreme (I’m thinking like the zero waste people), but if each person was just a little more conscious of the impact that they make by doing small tasks like recycling and taking shorter showers, the world (and our campus) would be a better place.

Q. What does “sustainability” mean to you?
Sustainability, to me, is doing my part to make [as much] of an impact on the world around me as possible. It is the small things that we do everyday to make a better impact on the world. There is so much more that all of us can do to become more sustainable people, but the first step for us all is to be cognizant of the ramifications of our daily lifestyles and finding ways to better that lifestyle so it is the least impactful. 

Q. Any other comments you’d like to add?
I’m really glad that Augustana has put more attention toward becoming a more sustainable campus. We’re really behind in this area, but if we put emphasis on it I see us catching up to campuses around the country.