Swiss-born Katharina Zuellig became interested in environmental issues in her late teens. She remembers reading about land erosions and glacial retreat. Said Katharina, “In the 1980s there was a strong sentiment against building more (nuclear) power plants and a budding awareness of a new threat of rising sea levels. At the time we didn’t really know what to do about the latter, but we were able to affect conservation policies as citizens”.
At that time, many Western European countries were already addressing environmental concerns – for instance, people paid for shopping bags or to have their trash picked up, but recycling was free. Sustainability was just a normal part of life.
When Katharina joined Harvard in 2000 she was surprised to see people throw out cans and bottles with their trash. And where oh where were batteries recycled? A lot has changed in the past nine years and Katharina is excited to be a part of it.
In 2004 she became tuned into the Harvard Green Campus Initiative (predecessor to the Office for Sustainability) programs and initiated the HRES pledge drive to conserve energy.
That year she also arranged for the CERtoons to be displayed in the hallway at HRES. In late 2006 she brought the latest CERtoons to University Place and then to Holyoke Center in early 2007.
In 2008 Katharina became a charter member of the HRES Green Team and in 2009 she took over the leadership position. The team recently achieved Three Leaf Certification for HRES in the Green Office program, a feat which she and other members of the team are immensely proud of.
Katharina’s dedication to sustainability increased further upon the birth of her son, who is now in first grade. She knows the importance of modeling good environmental behavior for the next generation, and of showing them that we can all make a big difference with simple measures. She encourages her son to enjoy nature and to find beauty in simple things, such as a walk around Walden Pond or finding a piece of driftwood on a beach. And, to help get this message out, she has volunteered to co-chair the Green Team at her son’s school.