Meet sustainability online student Wes Fitch

Wes FitchGrowing up in North Texas, Wes Fitch never really had the opportunity to experience nature. So when he finally did in Boulder, Colorado and the Pacific Northwest, it was life changing. "As someone from the suburbs in Texas, this was my first experience living among beautiful geography and a community which reinforces a healthy, active and environmentally-conscious lifestyle," Fitch said. He credits these experiences with inspiring his dedication to create "harmonious relationships between humans and our planet’s systems." Fitch is a senior interdisciplinary studies major concentrating in sustainability and organizational leadership with a minor in business. He is completing his studies online through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. In the following Q&A, get acquainted with Fitch, his opinion on the meaning of sustainability and the importance of organic recycling. Question: Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Answer: I was born and raised in the Dallas/North Texas area and am the oldest of four. I’m a dog-father who loves the outdoors and being active. In my downtime, I’m learning to play the guitar and speak Spanish. Q: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study sustainability? A: When I first started college, I had a really hard time choosing a major. My interests ranged between environmental and earth sciences, psychology, philosophy, religious studies, business and even engineering. I decided to acquire my Associate in General Studies from a local community college and took a gap year (more like two) to try and figure out my passions and get some direction. I ended up moving out to Boulder, Colorado and even spent some time in the Pacific Northwest. As someone from the suburbs in Texas, this was my first experience living among beautiful geography and a community which reinforces a healthy, active, and environmentally-conscious lifestyle. It was these experiences that made me realize that I wanted to dedicate myself to the creation of harmonious relationships between humans and our planet’s systems. Q: Why did you choose ASU/the School of Sustainability? A: Primarily, I had worked previously with Starbucks and decided to return to take advantage of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. However, I was also aware that ASU has the first School of Sustainability, is an innovative leader among universities, and has one of the most successful online programs. Q: What’s been your favorite class so far and why? A: Of all the diverse topics I am studying through the IDS program, my School of Sustainability classes have always been my favorite. If I had to choose one, it would be Sustainable Food and Farms. Food systems are one of the sustainability issues I am most interested in. With that said, the highlight of my experience at ASU was certainly the study abroad program I did in South America. Q: What does sustainability mean to you? A: For me, sustainability has many different meanings depending upon the context. In some ways, it’s even a personal philosophy. Broadly though, I would say that sustainability is the effort to live or operate in such a way that acknowledges the complex and dynamic relationships between Human and Earth systems and strives to either maintain, restore or improve the integrity of these systems. Q: What do you do at Turn Compost? A: Turn is a grassroots social enterprise dedicated to addressing food and organic waste in the Dallas Fort Worth/North Texas area. We work with consumers, businesses, governments, farms and no-profits in ways that support sustainable development in one of the fastest-growing areas of the country. Primarily, we provide a concierge composting service and then donate the compost we produce to local farmers, community gardens, or schools. Additionally, we are involved in education and volunteer coordination, and will soon be launching a retail front that includes compostable serveware. We hope to be a full-circle solution for households, restaurants, corporate offices and other businesses that want to minimize their footprints or operate more sustainably. I came on as an intern in January 2019 and am now part of the core administrative team. It’s a highly cross-functional environment, but my responsibilities and involvement mostly center around operational management and leadership, technology/data, and research and development. Q: What is one thing about organics recycling most people would be surprised to hear? A: Organics recycling represents a potential point of intervention for addressing some of our largest sustainability challenges: waste management, food systems and even energy/fossil fuel consumption. Q: What's next for you? A: Fall B is my last session before I graduate! I will be making the trip to Arizona in December to walk. The plan is to acquire some additional professional experience and return to ASU to complete either the MSL or PhD programs.