School of Sustainability, Arizona State University
BRITTNI FURROW, 22, is one of 55 graduate students and 181 undergrads studying sustainability at ASU. Furrow hopes to create a labeling system that would make it easy to see how sustainable a product is.
"The School of Sustainability focuses on understanding the world as a massive system: To create large change and reap large benefits, you need to see how all the components interact together. My project is a good example. What does sustainability mean from a consumer perspective? Phrases such as 'environmentally friendly,' 'green,' and 'all-natural' have no meaning; they make it hard to understand what you're purchasing. There are so many ways to measure and define impact. My goal is to develop a set of mechanisms to aggregate multiple factors into one overall value. Eventually, that value could be converted into a product-label system like the nutrition labels on food, showing how environmentally friendly and socially responsible products are."
A version of this article appeared in the April 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine.