How to Succeed in a Sustainability Career

Reported by Amanda Spiller ’17

Illustration credit: Inset image of sign by Tom Wang and larger image by Stephen Finn (via Shutterstock); photo collage by GreenBiz Group

Image: Stephen Finn; inset image: Tom Wang (via Shutterstock). Photo collage: GreenBiz Group.

Going into the sustainability field can mean a business career if your strength is playing the game, or a policy career if your skills lie in changing the rules, according to Eban Goodstein, director of sustainability at Bard College.

Both career paths are grounded in leadership, said Goodstein, who presented a Jan. 30 lecture to talk about what it means to become a sustainability professional. Held in Adams Hall, the event was co-sponsored by Sustainable Bowdoin and the Environmental Studies Program.

“A career in sustainability is committing yourself to changing the future,” Goodstein said.

eban-goodstein

Eban Goodstein

Goodstein discussed policy work at the international, national, and company level, as well as careers in the emerging field of green business, in which green solutions are viewed as opportunities to save money. He described new companies such as Ecovative, which is phasing out conventional Styrofoam and plastic products and replacing them with a new “mushroom material.” Also getting in on the action are established companies with troubled pasts, environmentally speaking: Nike, for instance, has largely stopped using water-based dyes, a leading contributor to water pollution.

Goodstein stressed that if carbon dioxide emissions continue at today’s rates, temperature increases of between 4 and 12 degrees Fahrenheit are expected in the next few decades. This trend is accompanied by an increased threat of severe storms as well as extreme drought conditions.

“We are alive in an extraordinary moment,” Goodstein said. “Our decisions are going to have a profound impact for every human to walk the earth from now until the end of time.”

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