Kaylynn O’Curran ’23 helps lead the charge for greater sustainability on campus.

Long before she had heard the term “sustainability,” Kaylynn O’Curran ’23 was obsessed with recycling. She wanted to live a lifestyle as close to zero-waste as possible, so she did her research on products to minimize her impact on the planet and try to be a conscious consumer. She felt good about her choices, but when she started studying at University of Puget Sound, she quickly learned that addressing climate change requires more than individuals making sustainable choices—it demands wide-ranging changes on a collective scale.

“When I filled out my work study form, I put down that I love to recycle and that’s how I got matched with Sustainability Services,” O’Curran says. “From day one, it’s been the best job and the only thing I can see myself doing.”

During her first year as a student work in Sustainability Services, the gender and queer studies and environmental policy and decision making double major focused on the campus’ waste management efforts. The student-run team helped educate the campus community about what went into the trash and what could be reused or recycled instead of joining the waste stream and ending up in a landfill. All was going well until the COVID-19 pandemic forced the team to change direction.