Although U1 Environment student Ben Ger is primarily studying the economic side of sustainability—he is an Environmental Economics major and a Marketing minor—he emphasized that he always keeps the global picture in mind. Ger explained that sustainability can be broken down into three major categories: Economic, social, and environmental.
Ger said that it is often difficult for people to wrap their heads around what exactly sustainability is.
“There’s this idea that it’s some crazy thing in the sky that’s going to come kill us,” he said. “But sustainability at its base level just means making the world work. In terms of social sustainability, it means not discriminating, not judging, not generalizing. Let people do what they want to make themselves happy, as long as it’s not oppressive to anyone else.”
Ger said that at McGill, he is always trying to help spread happiness. In his first year at McGill, Ger was the president of his residence, Molson Hall, which turned out to be his personal commitment to social sustainability.
“I wanted to make sure people had an awesome year,” Ger said.
In addition, he helped to promote Fight The Power, a week-long initiative encouraging energy reduction in residences. That same year, he was involved with the McGill chapter of a global organization called Right To Play, which works to promote leadership and life skills for children in underdeveloped areas through play.
Ger’s first year laid the groundwork for a strong future at McGill, preparing him for a path of more specific interests. In his pursuits this year, Ger has focused more on the things that are important to him, like environment, sustainability, economics, and ethics. As a result, Ger was recently hired as Coordinator of the Students’ Society of McGill University’s (SSMU) Financial Ethics Research Committee, where he is currently responsible for overseeing SSMU’s financial decisions and assessing the ethical level of their actions.
Ger is also using fashion to promote sustainability and is involved in producing ECOuture, McGill’s environment-friendly fashion show, coming up on March 19. All the clothing in the show is created by local designers and some are produced from sustainable materials. Last semester, Ger was also sustainability ambassador for the SSMU Environment Council.
Ger spoke highly of McGill as a whole and of the school’s efforts to become and remain sustainable.
“It’s a growing school with a lot of cool initiatives coming up,” Ger said. “I think they’re starting to narrow in on what forward-thinking is.”
Ger also keeps the environment in mind outside of McGill. This past summer, he worked for the energy company Summitt Energy in Toronto, doing marketing work for its sustainability sector. This coming summer, Ger is planning on working at JCM Capital, a private equity firm in Toronto that invests solely in solar initiatives.
Despite all that he has done, Ger said that he is still striving for more.
“I’m proud of what I’ve done so far,” he said. “But I have not done nearly that much. There’s a lot more to do.”