What Are You Passionate About?

A friend who works in the sustainability field recently told me that there were some areas of sustainability that he didn’t really care about.

At first, this was shocking. How could you work in sustainability and not care about the emissions that your car gives off? Or where your waste goes? Or where water pollution comes from and how it affects Kentucky’s freshwater ecosystems?

He then quickly followed up his statement with one of my favorite questions: “What area of sustainability are you most passionate about?”

The more I thought about it, his statement was actually comforting to me – I realized that there are aspects of sustainability that I myself am not too passionate about, and that that’s okay.

We have to work together to achieve a truly sustainable world, and we all have different strengths and weaknesses, passions and indifferences. It’s perfectly fine that I’m not passionate about certain areas of sustainability since others in my field are passionate about those subjects. My time and effort should be spent supporting them and their work. 

I don’t live in Lexington and don’t have the ability to participate in any of the employee alternative transportation opportunities (bike to campus, carpool, etc.). I have to drive to campus and purchase a parking pass. Even though I don’t qualify for those programs, and often forget that those opportunities are available, my job as a friend and colleague in sustainability is to support the alternative transportation programs as much as possible. I share information on social media, identifying unique was to partner on programs, making sure I am educated about their program so, if asked, I know where to direct our campus community. Alternative transportation doesn’t have to be my passion, we have Sandra Broadus for that. My job is to support her efforts. 

As you know, I am passionate about waste reduction. I absolutely do not want to put anything in that landfill, if I can find an alternate or creative solution for it. You might find me looking in recycling containers or landfill containers to see what items are in there. I’ve even been known to get in a dumpster or two to ‘rescue’ items – but I don’t expect that from anyone else on campus. I think my program would completely disappear if it was required to dumpster dive items for recycling!

I’m grateful for the partners I have on campus that assist with my passion. I have a whole network of people who care about me, and therefore want to see my passion and programs succeed. They reach out with ideas or problem areas on campus I should investigate, and they promote my program and share information with people who might not be aware of our resources. 

So my question for you is: What are you not passionate about? Figure out what you aren’t passionate about and explore ways to support the people who are passionate about that topic.

It takes all of us, supporting each other, to make a difference. 

Think about what you’re not passionate about, and how to support the people who are passionate about that topic!

Joanna Ashford

Joanna has served as the Recycling Coordinator for the University of Kentucky since 2018. She continues to work with campus partners to minimize waste and find creative solutions to waste generated. As staff advisor for Lexington Environmental Youth Outreach, Joanna is passionate about environmental education and outreach!

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