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UCI Holds 7th Annual Sustainaval

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UCI’s Sustainability Resource Center hosted its seventh annual Sustainival fair in front of Langston Library on Feb. 28. 

The event celebrated UCI’s advancements in environmental sustainability and its efforts to increase and promote education and outreach opportunities for both faculty and students. 

Around 20 participants, ranging from smaller campus clubs to larger initiatives from the City of Irvine,  set up booths for students to learn more about topics related to environmental science, climate change and ways to promote sustainability.

Alexander Diaz, a third-year environmental science and policy major and Outreach Program Leader of UCI’s Sustainability Resource Center, helped organize the event by contacting some of the many different organizations and reserving spaces for them. 

“It’s basically just celebrating UCI’s efforts towards achieving a more sustainable future. [The event strives to] educate students on how they can get involved, and what they can do on and off campus to get involved as well,” Diaz said.

A big part of Sustainival is teaching students how to be sustainable in college and teaching easy ways to incorporate sustainable habits into everyday life. 

“One of our biggest goals for today is to get students to be able to identify sustainability within the localized context of UCI. So, how can they get involved on campus? What can they do off campus? What groups and different organizations can they get involved with? And our other objective is to advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity within sustainability. That’s what we’re trying to do by getting a bunch of different [organizations] with different interests as well to [participate],” Diaz said. 

Joanne Lee, a third-year environmental science and policy major and member of the ASUCI Sustainability Project, works to promote sustainability on UCI’s campus. 

“Our commission [works] to support sustainability all around campus, and we pitch events; for most of them basically we’re just trying to promote sustainability, and have our students on campus become more aware [of how to be sustainable],” Lee said.

ASUCI gave out sustainable and reusable products including utensil kits and beeswax food wrap at their booth. 

“I just think that at the rate the world is at, it’s kind of bad to not be aware. Right now it’s a very crucial time that we need to be aware of climate change and sustainability, and it’s good to practice that sooner rather than later,” Lee said.

The Sustainival is a way for students to become more involved in protecting our environment, in terms of raising awareness about climate change and encouraging them to adopt healthier and more eco-friendly lifestyles for the future.

“I think that Sustainival is very good for promoting sustainability. It makes it more interactive for students and gives them a hands-on experience, to see why it’s important, and hopefully encourage them to incorporate sustainability into their lifestyle,” Lee said.

Rebecca Crowe, Collections Manager of the UCI Herbarium, came to the Sustainival to educate students about the Herbarium’s plant collection.

“My role here today is to bring some plants, some non-native plants and native plants as examples of what grows in our area and how we can actually help our wild landscapes in eating our enemy plants. So I’m encouraging everyone to learn about plants, learn what’s edible and go out there and eat them,” Crowe said. 

For Crowe, plants are a big part of sustainability. 

“I see the connection of plants and sustainability being one of the building blocks. Plants and animals make up our ecosystems, and we want these healthy functioning systems not just for us, but for these other species on Earth that we hopefully are going to coexist with for a long long time. So I feel like a good part of getting to know your habitat that you’re living in, and that you live next to, is getting to know your plants… And knowing helps you to connect with it, and you get a really great sense of place, and it helps you feel more connected [with the environment],” Crowe said. 

Trish Jimenez, a fourth-year environmental science and policy major, is part of Outdoor Adventures — a club that is also passionate about the health benefits of being in nature and the outdoors. 

“[Outdoor Adventures club has] seven principles that we practice. It’s basically ‘Leave no Trace’: to protect and maintain the beauty of nature, you leave everything as it is essentially. So in our events, we like to incorporate all seven principles into our trips,” Jimenez said. “I feel like it’s very important that we protect our home essentially by doing all of these things [to be sustainable]. And I feel like the Sustainival is a brave way to have people start that.”

Sabrina Henderson is a Campus News Intern for the winter 2023 quarter. She can be reached at