Making Waves in Environmental Change

Nicole Marquis and Dan Garofalo; Photo Credit: Connor Boyle

How does social change happen? It begins with the individual. When people are passionate about an issue, they discuss it with friends. They take meaningful action. And ultimately, they garner interest and inspire others to join the movement.

Dan Garofalo and Nicole Marquis understand these ideas and are putting them into action.

At Monday evening’s IMPACT Sustainability Speaker event, Penn Environmental Sustainability Director Dan Garofalo discussed the foundations of creating a cultural shift towards sustainability among Penn students. This work of “progress, not perfection,” as he stated, involves influencing values surrounding sustainability. His efforts include introducing reusable to-go containers in the dining halls, spreading awareness of sustainability through Eco-Reps, and bringing environmentalism into the classroom with the Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum program.

“Working on things that influence a few people can lead to bigger change,” he explained.

Nicole Marquis, the founder and owner of Hip City Veg, discussed the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. Vegan food has had personal significance in her own life. She physically felt better when she adopted a vegan diet. When she introduced vegan food to her parents, they lost weight and became healthier. At the same time, they were reducing their carbon footprint.

“The single biggest thing you can probably do to save the earth is to stop eating animals,” she stated.

While ordering plant-based packaging and organic food is more costly, Hip City Veg has successfully made profits due to their familiar restaurant atmosphere and accessible food choices; Nicole noted that most of her customers are not vegetarian or vegan. Other companies are taking notice and following suit. Recently, there has been a surge in competition from new vegan restaurants—competition that Nicole appreciates, because it reflects a growing trend towards food sustainability.

Dan and Nicole are making waves in sustainability across Penn’s campus and on the national food scene. They truly exemplify IMPACT’s belief that important social change can begin with just one person.

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