It’s Wednesday my dudes, and that means we’re back with another zero waste crush! This week we spoke to Sofia Sanchez-Pillot Saavedra, current UC Berkeley student and co-founder of the sustainability student organization RAGE at Chabot College. Sofia has spent much of her college career advocating for several sustainability initiatives. Join us in getting to know her unique start in sustainability!
What sparked your interest in sustainability?
My mom and sister were a foundation of my interest they introduced me to thinking about revolutionary ideas and going against the status quo. There were also a series of projects at Chabot College that developed my interest in sustainability as my career. I always thought of it as something a scientist does, and I never saw myself as a scientist; but Chabot’s Passion and Purpose Project helps nurture students' career interests instead of the typical school structure, wanting you to just take tests and pass.
What were some of the experiences that helped you continue in sustainability?
At Chabot, I started noticing that a lot of students were struggling with food insecurity. Food was something I was connected with and wanted to work with because my mom always taught us to make our food and eat healthy. It wasn’t something you would see at Chabot, because there are a lot of people living in poverty in the Hayward area. I started working on making a food pantry at Chabot. It was a collective effort that I had been a part of it from the beginning. Now, a year and a half after I transferred, we do it twice a month throughout the year.
"My dream is having a community kitchen on campus so they can learn how to cook and feed other students"
Over the summer we created RAGE at Chabot College - a student-led organization working to change the culture of convenience and the framing of sustainability. The first thing that happened was bringing water bottle filling stations to the campus which was a really successful project. It took one or two semesters to implement and another year to get them on campus -- that was what kind of taught me that you don’t need to be scientist in this field; you can use a lot of social skills in sustainability.
At the Student Initiative Center, we’re working on getting a sustainability center that will be its own building with resources for students interested in sustainability. Chabot recently got a grant and we went to the committee to propose the building, and there was a lot of student support. This will probably happen in the next ten years or so, and that's where you’ll find me working.
What advice would you have for someone who is interested in this path?
I would say they really need to find something based on their skills or something they enjoy doing and exploring. Sustainability can be really tough and emotionally challenging since you’re literally dealing with issues and fixing problems. The thing with sustainability has to do with the world; everything has to do with nature. There's so many things that can be related to sustainability - racism, feminism, etc. - so finding your angle or interest and applying it to sustainability can drive your work and it can help you keep going in that work. You'll inspire others because they can see passion.