The time Cal Poly students spend studying for exams, writing research papers and following Cal Poly’s mission statement makes them extremely attractive candidates for employment upon graduation. But what virtue of our time as Cal Poly students leaves us so well off? How do long days and all-nighters translate to a successful education? Although knowledge gained in college gives us an edge when seeking employment, I think we’re missing one major component beyond the wealth of knowledge that we acquire from our respective studies. We must develop a unique epistemology of thinking systems; that is, an understanding of how problems can be solved by looking at the components as part of the whole. In this sense, it is within our innate ability to devise a mindset for our actions, both personally (as part of the whole) and within our studies at Cal Poly. I ask this question: Is something missing from our current mindset as students?

Our Personal Lives

Developing a holistic mindset that allows us as individuals to think about our impact on the world is thinking with a split frame of mind. This mindset includes looking inward at our personal actions (micro) and is also looking at our contributing effects at a global level (macro). As individuals in a world economy, each and every one of us holds the power in deciding which products are produced simply by buying them or not.  So when a person walks into a retail store and buys something, he or she is approving of the product, how it is made, what materials are in it, the manufacturer and what strains it might leave on the environment both in its production and after it is used, consumed and then discarded. It is purchasing power that drives the economy. It is the actions that we take as individuals that fuel the innovation toward a more sustainable lifestyle, for consumers, businesses, the government and the world collectively.

Sustainability is Our Future

Although sustainability has just recently found limelight in the mainstream, it is a topic and a way of life that has been part of human civilizations since antiquity. A sustainable mindset is one that seeks to better environmental, economic, cultural and social standards. It is a basic survival skill that invests health, wellness and prosperity of future generations. If we as students develop a sustainable mindset during our studies at Cal Poly, we will have the ability to perceive a truly sustainable future in which we can all play a part. If agricultural students develop sustainable local agriculture, architecture students design sustainable cities, engineering students demand the most efficient methods for utilizing resources and business students market companies that seek to enhance their sustainability practices, we will be setting the foundation for a sustainable revolution.

Make Sustainability Your Life

I believe we are missing the sustainability element in our mindset as students.  So how do we get to that point?  As students of a polytechnic university, we have the ability to accentuate a specific line of study.  If sustainability is something that you would  like embedded into your studies at Cal Poly, ask for it to be taught in your classes. Research like crazy! Learn everything you can about the current happenings of the sustainable movement and bring them into your various classroom discussions. It is a paradigm shift in the way that we must begin to think about our lives and the effect we have on the world. If we understand the impacts of our day-to-day decision making and make the smartest choices possible, we will be living green. It’s that simple. We must begin to cultivate this mindset within our own minds in order to live green from within.

Tyler Hartrich is a city and regional planning senior, Empower Poly Coalition vice president and Mustang Daily columnist .

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