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Committing to Sustainability with Heather Chun

Apr 22, 2022 | Sustainability

Committing to Sustainability with Heather Chun

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The health of Madison Square Park is inextricably bound with the health of the local environment. Nurturing the park’s trees, plants, and wildlife is vital to supporting the city’s ecosystems. But even small shifts in the climate can have major impacts on the flora and fauna that call the park home. With this in mind, the Conservancy has committed itself to creating a more sustainable future for the park and the planet.

This Earth Day, we are shining a spotlight on Heather Chun, who has been pivotal in helping us turn our environmental commitments into a reality. Heather is Co-Chair of Madison Square Park’s Sustainability Committee. She was also recently named one of Credit Suisse’s Sustainability Ambassadors for her work organizing, mobilizing, and advancing local climate solutions.

Read on for an interview with Heather where she addresses the climate crisis, sustainability, and how you can get involved in caring for the planet:

What drives you to dedicate your free time to climate engagement?

I love our planet. I revel in the beauty of nature and I am compelled to protect it. I also feel deep pain seeing the devastating effects that climate change is having on wildlife, ecosystems, and people across the globe. There is urgency, along with an intimidating scale of systemic and individual action, that’s required to address the climate crisis. I’m doing what I can with the skills that I already have. If there’s one takeaway, it’s this: We all can engage in sustainability in our unique ways. These can be individual choices like composting and eating more simply, or pushing for big systemic changes through advocacy and voting. They all count as climate action.

What do you do, personally, in order to live sustainably?

I live sustainably by not buying too much stuff. I own things that I love, use them for a long time, and often patch them up instead of buying something new. When I buy new, I think about how much value and joy I’ll receive from it and I also think about the item ending up in a landfill at the end of its useful life. This motivates me to buy less.

Not-so-fun fact: In New York City, once you throw something in the garbage bin, it travels 450 miles on average to landfills outside of the state. And these landfills are often located in poorer neighborhoods. That’s a double whammy of 1) using fossil fuels to drive my garbage to a landfill; and 2) negatively impacting people who are already more affected by pollution and climate change. If I can help it, I’d rather not create waste to begin with.

Overall, I continually educate myself to deepen my understanding of climate change. This helps me to comprehend the urgency of the climate crisis and how to live more sustainably. For example, I attend training sessions like the weeklong Climate Reality program, which is open to anyone who wants to become a changemaker. I read books such as Eat Like a Fish by Bren Smith and publications such as Drawdown at Work. I listen to podcasts, including How to Save a Planet, Outrage + Optimism, and A Matter of Degrees. I watch documentaries like A Life on Our Planet by Sir David Attenborough and Kiss the Ground with Woody Harrelson. And, through my advocacy, I meet so many people who also care about this topic and from whom I learn so much.

How do you demonstrate sustainability at work?

I demonstrate sustainability at work in big and small ways. I joined the Americas Sustainability Network’s leadership team and co-founded the Climate Reality Leadership Corps within the Network. I think about ways Credit Suisse can be sustainable and talk to leadership about it. I shape and advance Madison Square Park’s Sustainability Initiative to protect the urban greenspace that our New York colleagues, myself included, enjoy. I also use non-disposable plates, cups, and cutlery for lunch.

What dream do you have for the future and how does your engagement contribute to it?

I dream that the global community inherently values our planet for what it is: a home for so many creatures, including us. I dream that we can collectively shift our mindset and move from a culture of extraction to a culture and a way of living that is harmonious with nature. What I’m working on is creating awareness and a sense of hope to inspire people to take acts of climate leadership—in their personal lives, at work, and in their communities. All climate action is valuable.


Interested in learning more about Madison Square Park’s Sustainability Committee? Contact us.

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