UCSF Sustainability Stories

Yovanni Antonelli, January 2013

LivingGreen Team Participates in LivingWell Expo

livewellOver the years, I have participated in countless outreach events across UCSF diverse campuses as a member of the LivingGreen team. These events have included Scientific Vendor Showcases, Moffitt Café Food Day, Chancellor’s New Student Reception, and the Mission Bay Block Party. All of these experiences have been meaningful for LivingGreen to maintain our presence to students, staff, and faculty and increase visibility of the Sustainability Action Plan and its objectives to live a life less wasteful. Nevertheless, there is one event that I am most compelled for our team to participate in every year – this is the LivingWell Expo.

If you are not familiar, LivingWell at UCSF is dedicated to stimulating and supporting comprehensive wellness programs and resources designed to promote mental, physical, social, and cultural balance. They strive to become a leader in health promotion programs, empowering people to lead healthier, more productive lives. In this effort, an annual exposition features both UCSF and external vendors giving away free information, fresh produce, snacks, free healthy lunch, and hundreds of wellness resources.

Endorsed byThis year’s LivingWell Expo highlights included ‘Know Your Numbers’ health assessments and even chair massages. It was a Certified LivingGreen event, meaning that the event met the Office of Sustainability’s criteria for endorsement. Moreover, various wellness lectures, including keynote speaker, Susan Kaiser Greenland, JD, author of The Mindful Child, were well-attended – I couldn’t get a seat!

In this celebration of wellness, the connection within UCSF community for living “well” and living “green” became more salient than ever to me. LivingWell and LivingGreen are not mutually exclusive. LivingGreen believes in “healthy environment, sustainable future”. Environment influences emotion, behavior, and health. Conversely, a person’s well-being influences their behavior towards being more sustainable. This could be eating healthy, walking, or bike riding. You know, ”if it’s good for you, good for the planet”.

After speaking to Kirk McLaughlin, spokesperson for Outdoor Programs at the Expo, we were struck by how we are also faced with similar obstacles; most urgent being habitual behavior-change. More than often, Kirk finds that recreation activities and the fitness center are under-utilized. LivingGreen urges a pledge to reduce waste, conserve energy, and save water. Distress and fatigue exhaust an individual’s ability to self-regulate. However, when provided with the appropriate challenges, incentives, and social connectedness, we appear to have found success. Simply demonstrating a concept of what is possible with peer exercise classes or sharing savings calculations from previous LivingGreen lab certifications makes all the difference in creating sustainable, healthy habits. LivingWell and LivingGreen offer the support, resources, and action-oriented goals necessary to increase intrinsic motivation.

The Sustainability Action Plan was created with the idea that through carbon neutrality, zero waste, toxics reduction, sustainable foods, and culture shift, we will fulfill UCSF’s mission in “advancing health worldwide”.  Through these campus programs we can achieve this on both an individual and environmental level.

This may be in part why this year’s LivingWell Expo has become the first Certified by LivingGreen event !