Jake Deal, winner of the 2008 George Gets Ingenious prize for the most innovative idea for campus sustainability, recently revealed his thoughts on campus sustainability, going green, and what he does to save energy at home.
GGG: What do you think is the biggest issue facing the college in terms of sustainability? What do you think students can do to help?
Jake: I think the biggest issue is the fact that a lot of students drive to and from places. Chestertown isn't that big and driving seems a bit unnecessary. However, I find myself driving from Harford to Hodson more often than not. I think the college could promote more bike usage and other alternatives to cars. I think this is applicable to society as a whole, as well. The US is facing record-breaking gas prices and it seems that everywhere I turn, alternative methods of transportation are being promoted such as carpooling and riding a bike. As far as the students go, there is no getting around having to drive or fly to get to campus. It is reasonable, though, to hop on a bike or bust in those fresh kicks occasionally.
GGG: How did you first get interested in environmental issues? Was it something you knew about growing up? What else do you do at home to be more green?
Jake: My parents have always been environmentally-weary. For Christmas, all of us children in the family got a copy of "An Inconvenient Truth" as gifts. I also took an interest in marine biology in high school and always had an affinity for the aquarium. I really got interested when I landed a job at the National Institutes of Health where I (a) had ample free time to surf the internet and read CNN.com about world news and (b) spent a summer working with the Division of Radiation Safety's environmental dosimetry program.
As far as going green at home, I switch off my power strips when not in use and make sure to shut down my computers and unplug them at night (when I remember). I also make a point to recycle both at home and at school. I also play an acoustic instrument in my bands, which requires no energy use (except when I'm miced). This is something I will hold against the electric instrument players when it comes time for The Big Picture to go green.
GGG: What do you plan to do with the $250? Do you have any plans post-graduation?
Jake: Well, my father wants a cut of the $250 since it was, as he claims, partly his idea, haha. I don't know what I'll spend it on...probably gas, since I will not be receiving that check from President Bush...
As for after college...maybe come back to NIH. Government jobs, though not as lucrative, have proven to be more stable for recent college graduates. This is a commonly misconceived notion, as the pay isn't quite as high as private industry, but retirement and mobility in the government is good. That's an option. I might also try my hand some sort of graduate school. Who knows. Thinking about that sort of thing is depressing.
Thanks Jake! To view his winning idea, check out georgegoesgreen.com.