Written by Sophia Masciarelli (’22)

The Office of Sustainability is proud to re-launch our Sustainable Humans of WFU series, where we highlight the sustainable work of students, faculty, and staff on campus and beyond! We hope these profiles are sources of inspiration for the ways you can be a changemaker for sustainability at Wake Forest.

Roxie Ray is a sophomore from Tennessee majoring in Anthropology with minors in Biology and Chemistry. Ray has been deeply engaged with sustainability on campus since her freshman year. During the fall of 2021, she organized a student artisan market to promote sustainable consumerism and fundraise for global famine relief. The artisan market was not only aimed to raise money to combat famine relief, but also to educate students and faculty about the downstream effects of unsustainable consumerism and the interrelation of the abuse of environment and the abuse of humans. 

At the front of the market, she set up informational posters on conflict metals and materials that are used for the production of our cell phones, and how the mining of these metals perpetuates violence and famine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Each student or student organization donated their art to be sold for this market. Ray had her own booth where she sold jewelry made from flowers and plants from the Wake Forest sustainability garden. In total, more than $1,500 dollars were donated to the World Food Program. 

Beyond this specific project, she engages and leads sustainable student organizations across our campus community. She is the vice president and a founding member of Wayward fashion, a student organization that promotes sustainable fashion on campus. Wayward fashion works to promote sustainable clothing consumption through their digital presence, but also arranges trips to second hand stores, and organizes an annual sustainable fashion show. “I also aim to incorporate sustainability into every other facet of my extracurricular activities,” says Ray. As an executive member and founder of the World Tea Organization on campus, she helped organize and record a mini podcast series on sustainability. In one episode, she interviewed various leaders in sustainability on campus. In another, she co-hosted an interview with Elyse Petersen, a Global Tea Ambassador with the International Tea Farms Alliance, who spoke about sustainability in tea production and distribution. In association with the World Tea organization and the Waker’s Space, she also instructed a class on making sustainable reusable tea bags.

When asked what drives her to do sustainable work, Ray responded:

“I truly believe we all have a moral obligation to do sustainable work. We have a responsibility not only to the land that supports us, but also to the people who face the consequences of our unsustainable actions. These unsustainable actions are not just choices that we can elect to make, such as throwing away a plastic bottle rather than recycling it, but the entire foundation of our contemporary society rests of a bed of unsustainable industrial practices, the consequences of which fall onto third parties across the world. In order to survive in our institutions, we cannot make the choices not to have laptops, computers, phones, etc, because we oppose the conflict metals within them. However, it is within our ability to give our time and effort to at the least provide our best reconciliation. Sustainable work to me feels like a work of reparations. It’s not so much a purely preventative motivation out of fear of future climate annihilation and irreversible environmental degradation, though that is definitely part of it, but also a retroactive effort to amend the circumstances that grant me the various privileges and comforts I have today.”  

If you want to nominate someone as a Sustainable Human of WFU, complete our nomination form and we will be in touch!