Bruin SAGE encourages climate activism through petitioning and business consulting
Members of Bruin Sustainable Age throw their hands up in the air. The club, founded two years ago, aims to introduce more sustainable approaches to both the corporate and legislative worlds. (Photos by Chloe Gonzales, courtesy of Ninava Sharma)
July 26, 2023 12:34 p.m.
This post was updated July 30 at 7:07 p.m.
Among the aroma of donuts and candy on Bruin Plaza, members of Bruin Sustainable Age can be found not urging students to join a club but to write to their congressional representatives.
The club, which was founded two years ago, aims to educate students about how to make sustainable choices through their lifestyles and voting records, said Ninava Sharma, the club’s head of corporate consulting. She added that this includes urging students to write or call their state representatives in order to solicit support for environmentally friendly legislation or providing consulting services for companies aiming to become more climate conscious.
Sharma, a rising fourth-year bioengineering student, said one of the ways Bruin SAGE aims to raise awareness for climate-related issues is by hosting an annual Climate Action Night in collaboration with other UCLA clubs – the first of which was held in May 2022. At the event, participants presented 15 to 20 climate-focused legislative bills, she said.
Members of the club split into smaller groups before presenting items of legislation, Sharma said. Anastasia Vanderpool, a rising second-year geography and public affairs student who is a member of the club, said her group focused on California Assembly Bill 57, which if passed will provide protections for pocket forests or small patches of native species planted in urban areas.
“We present those (bills) to people who come by the event, and then they have little incentive to write postcards to their legislators about the specific bills,” Vanderpool said.
Emily Kelly, a rising third-year climate science student who also presented at the event, said the awareness night caused her to approach climate legislation with more skepticism. After researching one bill that was packaged as climate-conscious by those who proposed it, Kelly said she discovered that it also had significant drawbacks.
Outside of awareness events like Climate Action Night, the club also runs a newsletter and hosts a show on UCLA Radio, Sharma said. Vanderpool added that the show has so far covered topics including sustainable media, fashion and camping.
Another aspect of the club is offering consulting services to companies that want to become more climate-conscious, which in the past has included an outdoor furniture company and a medical systems company, according to the club’s website. Members of the club research an issue relating to a business’s sustainability and present options to the company of things it could do differently in the future, Sharma said.
“All of us are wanting to go into different career paths but care about carrying sustainability into those different sectors,” Vanderpool said. “I think it was cool to kind of see that also being in practice within the companies that we worked with.”
Sharma said that in the future, the club hopes to work more with the Undergraduate Students Association Council to ensure that campus construction, including the new Metro station, is done in climate-conscious ways.
Kelly said one of her favorite parts of the club has been seeing the impact the members have been able to make on these companies. She added that consulting with Bruin SAGE has allowed her to build her network, learn more about doing industry-applicable scientific research and build her professional skill set.
“These companies say, ‘Hey, we’re actually implementing what you did,’” she said. “We’re just undergrads and we’re maybe not professionals – but our research and our work is actually helping.”
Vanderpool added that she felt inspired by working with people who, despite not working in climate-related industries, still care about the environmental impact of the companies at which they work.
Sharma said she hopes that by educating students, they will enter the workforce with a more environmentally conscious mindset.
“You can be a climate activist in any field,” she said. “We need people in any sort of industry, any job who are interested in … advocating for climate-forward decisions.”