Green Gator of the Month: Chris Landaeta
Written by Sustainable UF intern Anna Mavrodieva
Each month, the Office of Sustainability will feature members of the University of Florida community who are making a sustainable impact on a daily basis. Keep reading to meet our featured student for December!
Meet Chris Landaeta
As a transfer student, Chris appreciates the niche he found for himself within UF’s environmental community. He is active with organizations outside of UF too, and finds joy in bringing people from UF and beyond together to work on the common goal of protecting the environment.
Engaging With Environmentalism
Chris, a nearly lifelong resident of Gainesville, is super active in the local environmental scene. Below are just some of the agencies he’s worked with:
- Current Problems
- Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT)
- Repurpose Project
- Florida Springs Council
During the school year, Chris especially spends a lot of time with Current Problems, an organization dedicated to removing trash from waterways, serving as one of their cleanup coordinators.
Chris likes working with Current Problems because of their impact on both nature and the community. He shares that they provide a tangible, hands-on way to help the environment. He also notes that their cleanups are open to the public and don’t require prior registration, making them even more accessible.
In the summer, Chris co-leads Young Leaders for Wild Florida, a program for teens interested in conservation sponsored by ACT. Similar to Current Problems, Chris appreciates how this program makes environmentalism more engaging for those who otherwise might not have the chance to explore it.
A Departmental Nomad
Community is at the forefront of Chris’ work. “Being able to learn more about the world and spreading that knowledge to other people is what I find most fulfilling,” he says.
He likes his Environmental Science major because it requires him to be a “departmental nomad,” or someone who learns and networks in different departments across campus.
Chris also organizes hikes and hangouts for his friends to foster a sense of community. He acknowledges that studying environmentalism can be stressful, so working with others, especially on smaller, more manageable issues, can help alleviate that stress.
Sustainability as a Venn Diagram
Chris defines sustainability as a Venn diagram where environmentally friendly, economically feasible, and socially just actions overlap. He believes the key to achieving sustainability is “thousands of people practicing it imperfectly and spreading the word.”
Chris’ sustainable actions include repurposing old products, shopping locally, and wearing clothes for as long as possible before buying new ones – in fact, he says he is often recognized by his signature flannel, beanie, and boots he’s been wearing for years.
Finding Your Patch of Green
Chris recommends taking classes like Wildlife of Florida to learn about the local environment. He also emphasizes the importance of “leaving the walls of UF” and exploring green spaces around town.
“If you don’t know where to go, open Google Maps and just browse and find a little patch of green labeled as a natural park or natural area,” He recommends, “and when you have time, go ahead and explore it!” Immersing yourself in nature is, in Chris’ eyes, one of the most effective environmental practices.
Chris also encourages students to step into leadership roles and be confident in expressing themselves. Everyone has something to say and something to contribute to the environmental movement.
In his final words as an undergrad: “If you find an opportunity that feels right, I really recommend taking it.”
“A big thing…is leaving something better than how I found it. That can be a cleanup or trail maintenance or removal of invasive species, to connecting people and creating connections that weren’t there before that people grow from, myself included.”