Throughout Miami University, constant efforts are being made to increase sustainability for the university. The little-known voice pushing many of these issues belongs to Anna Ginsky.
Ginsky, 31, has lived an adventure-packed life thus far. After graduating high school, the San Diego native took a few years off to backpack around Europe. She then attended Marietta College in Marietta Ohio, where she graduated with degrees in Environmental Studies and Political Science, as well as a Spanish minor.
Afterwards, she took a few more years off during which she backpacked through Asia and lived in Ecuador for a brief period of time. It was through traveling Ginksy found her passion for people and the environment.
“While I was getting my bachelor’s degree, I studied abroad in Ecuador. When I was there, I visited Mindo, which is probably one of the top 10 most bio diverse cities. It’s very poor but beautiful, and the people there were incredible. As I studied their tourism structure, I realized that it was very loose. And that’s sort of sparked my passion for eco-tourism. I want to combine my love of traveling and human relationships to help people in developing nations make the most of their resources and capitalize on what they have, as well as live sustainably,” Ginsky said.
Ginsky’s vision for her future is still uncertain however.
“I’d be happy to work a lot of jobs, but I think I’m most drawn to jobs that have an outreach component. I want to work with people on a basic level. I love the little moments where you interact with people and you know they feel uplifted and helped by your presence,” Ginsky said with satisfaction, “But first I decided I wanted to go back to school and get my masters.”
And that is how Ginsky found herself at Miami University.
Now a graduate student within the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability (IES), Ginsky plays the role of Miami’s Sustainability Education Coordinator, a position reserved for graduate students in IES.
As the Sustainability Education Coordinator, Ginsky is in charge of The Green Team, a club focused on representing students, faculty and staff whose goal is to improve environmental sustainability on campus through educational events, speakers, and annual recycling and energy/water reduction competitions. Under Ginsky’s leadership this year, the club has many programs planned to promote sustainability on campus.
The first project – already set in motion – is the Zero-Waste athletic events, in which Green Team members man stations set up in the arena where spectators are guided towards proper disposal of their waste; be it trash, recyclables or compostable items.
Additionally, Ginsky has created a Blue Bag Recycling Challenge throughout the residence halls in which the hall who has recycled the most per month wins a prize.
The Kill the Cup Challenge, however, is the project Ginsky has been putting her heart and soul into. This is a challenge among several universities focused on getting students to use reusable mugs for their coffee beverages. People are asked to send in selfies drinking coffee out of a reusable mug to killthecup.com, where points are tallied between the schools with a monetary prize going to the school with the most points at the end of the challenge.
“So far, the planning for Kill the Cup has gone really well. A lot of people have been volunteering and showing interest in participating, even whole departments. Not to mention that we’ve even gotten direct support from President Hodge,” Ginsky said, “Plus, Miami’s on-campus cafés use between 4,000-6,000 coffee cups per week. People need to start thinking about being sustainable with their actions.”
Sophomore Julia Slusher can attest to the Ginsky’s hard work.
“I’m a member of Green Oxford, which is a different club on campus focused on sustainability. At our very first meeting of the semester, Anna Ginsky was there to talk about all the cool things she had planned for this year and it was really inspirational. You could just tell that she was very passionate about what she was talking about.”
But Ginsky’s hopes for this year go far beyond a few simple sustainability challenges. She hopes to bring about a heightened awareness of the need for sustainable behavior, as well as awareness of eco-friendly programs that Miami has already put into action.
“For example, we have a lot of wonderful LEED certified buildings. Great. But a lot of buildings aren’t. The important message here is that we aren’t always going to be in a LEED certified building, so ultimately, we’re responsible for our own well-being and sustainability,” said Ginsky.
Ginsky’s world experiences and knowledge have led to a passion for sustainability that can’t be contained. Her message can be summed down to this final quote:
“Take the time to recycle and live sustainably. It takes more time, but that’s ok. We encounter tradeoffs every day, take a few minutes and put them towards being sustainable. Trade off some of the bad for more of the good. It’s a positive change.”