Siddhanth Paralkar is from Mumbai, India, and moved to the United States three years ago to complete the Master of Sustainability Solutions (MSUS) degree at ASU. His undergraduate degree is in mechanical engineering, providing him with a diverse set of skills to apply to his sustainability studies. His interest in sustainability and happiness started while studying abroad in Guatemala. He loved being able to work directly with neighborhoods and communities, while also experiencing how differently happiness was perceived abroad. When he returned from Guatemala, he took the “Sustainable Neighborhoods for Happiness” capstone course with Scott Cloutier. Sid’s knowledge and experiences from Guatemala and the capstone allowed him to more deeply understand the Sustainable Neighborhoods for Happiness Index, inspiring him to assess the happiness of one specific neighborhood in Tempe for his final MSUS project. Using the work from the capstone course as a base assessment, he developed a decision-making tool application designed to help residents clearly identify where they need to improve happiness and sustainability within their neighborhood.
After completing his MSUS degree, Sid served as the Sustainability Intern at the Farm at South Mountain for three months planning and implement a waste management system. In addition to providing the resources to make recycling and compost available at the Farm’s three restaurants, he helped the Farm become more involved in the community by creating a network of people to collaborate on sustainability initiatives.
Now, Sid is working for the Paradise Valley School District as a Recycling Specialist. Ten of the 34 schools in the district have recycling pilot programs, but none of these have been very successful. With the increase in consumption and waste generation and reduction of space for landfills, developing effective recycling programs in schools is critical. It is Sid's goal to develop a program that engages both students and teachers so they can bring practical sustainability knowledge and passion to their families, friends, neighborhoods, and communities.
According to Sid, “working together creates value in society; my focus is to create value in what they are producing,” a critical piece to successfully connecting people to sustainability. He believes that community engagement is both a process and application; bringing people together to work for the greater good is key to sustaining happiness. Over the past few years, Sid has positively impacted communities at home and abroad, from small villages in Guatemala to an entire school district in Arizona. Happiness and sustainability are integral to fostering intergenerational equity, and Sid is working diligently to ensure this now and in the future.