Growing up in rural Pennsylvania would turn just about anyone into an environmental activist, according to Candice Carr Kelman.

As a child, she watched housing tracts and shopping centers replace cornfields and forests.

“I wasn’t aware of the environmental movement at the time, but I felt really angry about the disregard with which people treated nature,” she says. “I grew up surrounded by forests and wildlife, and all of a sudden they were transformed into something totally different.”

Today, Carr Kelman dedicates her personal and academic life to promoting environmental sustainability and conservation.

Carr Kelman, a doctoral candidate in planning, policy and design, recently released a sustainability assessment of the UC Irvine campus, covering areas including dining, transportation and purchasing.

The two-year study produced some encouraging results, while showing there are areas that need improvement, says Carr Kelman. Some highlights already implemented by UCI Food Services include:

  • Offering locally grown produce – supporting the local agricultural economy while cutting carbon emissions – as well as certified organic foods.
  • Using biodegradable plates and to-go containers in place of Styrofoam.
  • Switching to cage-free eggs.

“People have to unlearn their dependence on disposables like paper towels, paper plates or individually wrapped juice boxes. It’s amazing that people use these items whimsically and wastefully,” she says.

While UCI won a Best Practices Award for water efficiency at the 2008 UC/CSU/CCC Sustainability Conference, Carr Kelman’s report suggests that UCI could do even better and save money on energy and landscaping costs if it planted native, drought-tolerant species. Her report also recommends a ban on leaf blowers that she says are too noisy and spew pollution.

However, she does believe living green is not all about deprivation and sacrifice. It also can be fun.

“Just start by biking around campus on a Saturday and checking out the fresh fruits and veggies at the University Center Farmers’ Market,” she says.

To view the full report, visit