The Sustainability Capstone course offered a tremendous learning experience through working on a team. The biggest understanding I gained through this is learning that various writing styles often make it hard to compile work into a singular document. I struggled the most with this because throughout most of my schooling I was dependent on my own writing style to achieve grades and goals. When you are writing a paper with four other students, who all have their individual writing styles, it is hard to decipher the flow of the paper, which I had become so accustomed to. That is not to say their writing was bad, it was just different and different is good. Typing a research paper with my teammates taught me to accept differences in writing styles because everyone on the team had valuable ideas and thought processes. I also learned that rough drafts are critical in order to accept your teammates differences. We learned of our mistakes through writing rough drafts, then we were able to appropriately fix them, and work to make our paper flow better by taking a step outside each of our personal writing styles. I usually hate rough drafts when I am writing by myself. Now, I definitely appreciate them and am able to see why rough drafts are important when collaborating.
One understanding I learned about myself through this project is that I am a solution-oriented, time-efficient, hands-on learner when it comes to concepts that I am interested and heavily involved in. For example, I found it incredibly frustrating that my team had to jump through hoops in order to collect our waste audits from the designated buildings. This often left us with little, or no waste to sort because we placed our time-sensitive research project in somebody else's hands. After a few unsuccessful waste sorts we took matters into our own hands by collecting the waste ourselves. I found this to be a more rewarding and efficient use of our time for our team. It showed me that it is important for each team member to carry a positive mindset and a strong initiative to get the job done, especially when hiccups arise. While I do understand that some projects require a system of approval, this taught me that time-sensitive work might depend on a team to "go against the grain" from what is typically practiced (as long as there are intentions of a positive and non harmful solution).
Being fairly new to the Sustainability community at UNH, the first thing I would tell other people is to consider the SDM. It has indefinitely broadened my learning experience throughout college. The concepts that I have learned from my SDM classes can be applied to any life experience, giving me a more full grasp on things such as teamwork, personal and global impacts, collaboration, types of knowledge, people, and the environment. The second thing I would tell people is that learning about sustainability isn't just for hippies. I sometimes feel that the term "sustainability" has a connotation of unimportance. However, the term falls into every aspect of human life. I would also tell students not to be afraid to add a dual major. Adding a dual major on top of an already declared major can sometimes be intimidating. However, the required courses often fit with your main major, making it a more worthy educational experience.
Below are some images taken during our Zero Waste reasearch project.