#FindYourLab with Christina Langone

Christina Langone is Urban Green Lab’s newest Sustainability Education Manager. Originally from Saugus, Massachusetts, Christina is a proud first-generation college student who understands the importance of education and following your own path. Previously, she worked as a Sustainability Specialist for the NYC Department of Education which serves 1.1 million students across 1,800 schools. In this role, she worked with a portfolio of 300 schools on a wide range of sustainability efforts. She developed and managed two programs that expanded the office’s reach in the city.

When not at work she enjoys listening to music, reading, drawing, writing, and quiet moments in nature. Empathy, kindness, and justice inform all of her decisions and she acts with a deep respect for the lived experiences of everyone she is collaborating with or educating. Now that she leads UGL’s Sustainable Classrooms and Students in Sustainability programs, she’s tasked with showing learners everywhere how a little change goes a long way.

What is your role in helping communities become more sustainable?

I help educators and students bring sustainable learning and living into the education experience. For the Sustainable Classrooms program, I train K-12 educators to have the tools, confidence, and community to teach about sustainability in any classroom. For our Students in Sustainability program, we show high school juniors and seniors that any job can be a sustainable job by placing them with local organizations that are taking on their own sustainable initiatives. 

What’s your favorite thing about working in sustainability?

My favorite thing about sustainability is how broad it is! The ability to sustain can be related to any individual’s or community’s unique experience. Everyone has a resource they love, respect, and use daily. I truly enjoy working with folks to find out where they fit in with this world-spanning, multi-generational, justice-oriented work.  

Was there an “ah-ha” moment when you decided to make more sustainable choices in your own life?

I never had an “ah-ha” moment but rather I slowly felt myself awaken to sustainability and justice. I started off my journey on a whim by declaring an Environmental Science major in college. Though I had no background in the topic I quickly fell in love with the subject area, but I also knew I did not want to be a scientist or researcher. After a bit of time, I realized my classes were missing one vital topic: people! Once I added my sociology minor, I truly found my calling. I stopped thinking of sustainability as saving the planet and refocused on the idea that everyone deserves a fair shot at a healthy existence and a chance to thrive. 

I have always said that my outreach work sits at the intersection of people and planet, but I recently fell in love with this concept captured by Madeleine Jubilee Saito:  “What is the environment except my body, and your body, and the breath between us?” 

What was or has been the hardest habit to break along your sustainability journey?

I still eat meat and dairy! I try to source locally, eat in moderation (especially red meat), and find the highest quality but I think there is a misconception that the endgame is to become a perfectly sustainable person. It isn’t! Just do what you can, where you can, as often as you can, and try not to forget that sustainability is meant to be a joyous journey! 

What’s one sustainable item you always have with you?

My Chico reusable bag! It can be stuffed into my pocket or purse and allows for easy cleaning. That way I am never left needing a plastic bag at the store. I also make sure to turn down all of the free tote bags offered these days. Once you have enough there is no reason to have any more! 

Are you interested in training for you, your school, or your district? Contact Christina at christina@urbangreenlab.org.

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