My name is Eriko Shrestha. I'm from Nepal. I recently graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in Environmental Studies and Political Science.
What sustainability, energy, and community issues are important to you?
I'm very much interested to learn about all things related to environmental sustainability. However, if I were to pick only a few, I would say waste management, climate-induced migration, and water conservation... In many ways, all three of them are interconnected. Waste management is often overlooked because it's a backdoor industry that the larger public does not follow once they throw their trash out. The waste that we create is filled with precious resources that can be turned into raw materials for manufacturing, like plastic, metal, and glass. Electronic waste is even richer, with precious metals like gold, silver, and copper sprinkled into various types of electronics. Our settlements are urban mines, and frankly, these urban mines are concentrated with more resources per meter-cubed than actual mines. I volunteered at a few refugee reception sites, and I remember having this realization that we will see massive migrations at an unprecedented rate as climate change increases weather and seasonal abnormalities. It is difficult to prove that you have been forced to leave your home based on climatic conditions, so I think there's still a lot of debate to be had on this issue of how we will adequately manage to resettle migrants, especially for disappearing small island nations. Water is life. I want to learn more ways for how we can decrease consumption and extend the use of this lifeline to communities facing calamitous conditions in different parts of the world.
What exciting projects/research are you working on now?
I have been working on e-waste education, advocacy, and recycling in Kathmandu, Nepal, for about two years now, so that's an important issue in which I've been able to contribute to gradual positive change. I had three local partners for this project, each one taking on their role of education, advocacy or recycling based on their strengths. We've successfully hosted workshops and meetings to begin considering a revision of the pre-21st-century e-waste policy in Nepal, and talked that there e-waste to over 200 kids. I also did research on the melting Arctic and how the ice melt affects geopolitics in that region. It's a really interesting dynamic with access to more efficient shipping routes, natural resources and everything else you need to survive.
What are your plans for the next five years?
I'm not sure! I'm hoping SISE will help piece some parts of the puzzle together.
What made you want to apply to SISE?
I wanted to meet students and professionals interested in sustainability from all parts of the country and the world to know what is being discussed/learned/explored in the field of sustainability.
What are you most looking forward to doing in Chicago?
I'm looking forward to meeting my group mates and visiting Argonne Lab.
Do you like Cats? If not, are you willing to learn to like cats?
They're okay... I prefer dogs.