“Environmental Economics” and how to be a sustainable consumer

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Story by Zach Avery, News Editor

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In replacement of  the traditional “Brown Bag” days, where the Center of Sustainability would invite attendees to bring a sack lunch as they listen to a guest speaker discuss a topic relating to sustainability, the department (along with the Learning Sustainability Committee) has been hosting monthly “Green Tea Tuesdays.” In these monthly meetings, a different Aquinas faculty member is invited to speak at a virtual Zoom conference about how their specific field relates to environmental awareness.

The Tuesday, March 31 event focused specifically on “Environmental Economics,” and the speaker was Dr. Dave Hebert, an associate professor of economics at Aquinas and chair of the Economics Department. The Environmental Economics course that Hebert typically instructs at Aquinas is an introduction to an already rapidly growing field in the world of economics. While scarcity of resources and supply versus demand have always been hallmarks of modern economic theory, it has only recently been the case that sustainability in our day-to-day lives has been on the forefront of many political conversations.

“We, in our capacity as consumers,” Hebert said, “Should want things to be produced sustainably. If a business is going to make money, and the customers want things to be done sustainably, then they (the business) have to do it in a sustainable way or else we won’t shop there.”

Hebert’s expertise is on using the “profit motive” to not only encourage, but also essentially require businesses to behave and operate sustainably when that’s exactly what the consumers demand from them. Hebert believes that rather than enforcing business to do the bare minimum of a sustainability requirement through federal regulations, we should instead dedicate ourselves to consuming exclusively sustainable products. Then, producers will follow suit. 

“If you look out into the world, and you see a problem,” Hebert said, “If you want to solve that problem, you need to understand why it exists in the first place. Economics is a tool that helps you understand what you’re seeing.”

If you are interested in attending future events from the Center for Sustainability or the Learning Sustainability Committee, their next program, the “We All Live Here” Service Day will be held on Wednesday, April 14. Visit AQ Engage to learn more.

Categories: News, The Saint

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