By: Amy Scoville-Weaver, Senior Manager of Business Development for Arizona State University

Phoenix has long been known as the least sustainable city in the world – yet, things are changing and young professionals have a vital role to play in creating a more sustainable future. While diving into being more sustainable can feel daunting, the truth is that the actions we take at the individual and business level really does make a difference. Even the smallest ones!

Here are some tips and tricks to help you save the earth (it does need it), save money (we all need that) and contribute to your community (because that is what good humans do).

Energy and water use

Phoenix is on the frontline of environmental changes as we face a future with rising temperatures, drought and less water. By implementing small changes in your daily habits, you can help conserve our natural resources and contribute to a more sustainable present.

  • Turn off lights and unplug unused appliances (which also brings down temperatures in your home)
  • Take shorter showers and turn off water in between washing your hair, teeth and shaving
  • If you have a yard, use heat-tolerant plants and go for xeriscaping over turf grass. Not only will planting native plants entice birds and reptiles to your yard, it will reduce your water costs.
  • Compost your food and yard waste – Recycled City is a great resource for this!


Did you know that only 10% of plastics are recycled ever? Those blue bins aren’t as magic as we thought. Instead of focusing on recycling as the solution, focus instead on your consumption.

  • Reduce plastic by using renewable bags
  • Opt out of straws at restaurants
  • Avoid plastic water bottles at all costs
  • Grocery shop with a “green eye” – for example, I noticed I was throwing away two plastic tubs of hummus a week (all non-recyclable). So, I learned how to make my own hummus, which adds about ten minutes a week to my cooking time, and voila! I reduced my plastic.

When you do recycle, be sure to check what types of plastic are recycled in your city (if your city recycles at all). For example, the City of Glendale only accepts PET 1 and PET 2 – but not PET 5. The base of my tub of peanut butter is PET 1, but the lid is PET 5 (and therefore can’t be recycled). So, take a second and do a double check on the bottom of your items for the magic PET number. Be sure to wash and dry your items before tossing them in the bin and when in doubt, THROW IT OUT! Even a minor slip-up can contaminate a load of recycling.

Plastic waste impacts the health of our ecosystems and our communities. Even just a few changes to your routine and consumption patterns does make a difference.

Leading with sustainability

Did you know that 96% of the world’s top companies report on their sustainability performance? As a young professional, becoming sustainability-savvy will help give you an edge in your career and help you be viewed as a leader. As we transition from a virtual world, the time is perfect to start implementing changes at the office. Your initiative won’t just help the planet, but could help you as well.

  • Have a green team in your office? Consider joining! Don’t have one? Start one!
  • Come up with suggestions – like reducing paper waste, eliminating single-use plastics and having Meatless Lunch Mondays – to improve your office sustainability.
  • Check in with your management and let them know you see this as a growth area.
  • Staying virtual? Get involved on the strategy side to understand the impact of your business on the environment and how you can help.

As Phoenix grows, it is critical that we grow right to ensure we are resilient, inclusive and healthy for future communities. Let’s ditch our old label and create a new one – the most sustainable city in America.

We can’t do it without you.


Posted by Annelise Patterson