My name is Grace Maley and I grew up in Bexley, Ohio. I am now a rising senior at Middlebury College in Vermont, where I am completing a joint-major in Environmental Studies and Economics. I have always loved spending time outdoors and enjoying nature, but I never thought I would focus my entire college education on environmental topics. The experiences that caused this shift were two summers of interning at a marine conservation site in the Bahamas. This was where my casual appreciation for the environment turned into a passion. Each day I dove in the world-renowned coral reefs, tracking the health of the ecosystem. I loved exploring the mystical underwater world, but as I saw the reefs decline before my eyes, I was heartbroken. I began to wonder what my impact on this ecosystem was. Was I really doing everything I could to protect it and the many other at-risk ecosystems around the world? The answer was simply no.
And so, when I began my freshman year at Middlebury College, I decided to invest time into learning more about what it would take to protect this planet that I care so much about. In the environmental studies program at Middlebury, there is an emphasis on viewing sustainability issues as a nexus. There are many intertwined factors such as technology, economics, policy, and culture, so viewing the world through one lens would result in an incomplete perspective. Therefore, I have had to complete courses ranging from environmental literature to climate modeling and economic statistics. This multifaceted course load has enabled me to have a well-rounded understanding of energy and sustainability that I hope to supplement with hands-on experience at EcoHouse Solar.
Throughout my education, I have begun to realize that small, “green” actions are not enough. We have to completely change the way we consume and the way we value the natural world. There are externalities associated with unsustainable societies that will not show up on a bill, but we will continue to pay for them in other ways. Quite simply, investing in fossil fuels is more than the cost of a barrel of oil, it pulls from the future as well–the future of the planet and of the next generations. On the other hand, investing in sustainable development and renewable energy is more than the direct benefits of a compost bin, an electric car, or solar panels. It is an investment in the future. Producers and consumers alike are beginning to realize this. We see evidence of it with Larry Fink’s letter to CEO’s, urging for an increased focus on climate risks, and the rise of B Corp which presents an opportunity for consumers to choose businesses that support their values.
With this internship at EcoHouse Solar, I am looking forward to learning more about sustainable businesses and the renewable energy industry. With technology costs having decreased dramatically and new policies having been implemented throughout the nation and state of Ohio, solar energy has become an extremely viable option in Ohio. Residents can finally save money while also protecting the climate and future generations. I am excited to continue sharing my passion for conservation while also contributing to sustainable development in my community of Central Ohio.