By Sonya D. Lavett
Amber Friday does not mind working in an atmosphere with mostly men. She says that her last three years with American & Efird, a global thread manufacturing company headquartered in North Carolina, have been nothing short of fun and exciting.
After all, she is one of the few women in the field of environmental management and the only woman at American & Efird to hold the title of senior environmental health and safety/sustainability and RSL technician.
Being a single mom, Amber admits that it can be hectic raising a child, working full time, and staying on top of her course work. Somehow, she manages to juggle all of it and at least some of this could be attributed to the fact that she is a determined individual who knows how to rise above a challenge.
Additionally, she finds her job extremely rewarding because she is passionate about making a difference in her community and in the world.
When asked about her background in environmental management, Amber discussed her close relationship with her dad, a water plant operator and avid nature lover. When she was young, he would talk to her often about water conservation and the desire to provide clean water to areas where people had none.
As Americans, we are accustomed to simply turning on the tap whenever we want fresh water to drink, brush our teeth or clean up, but this is considered a luxury for many other people in the world. Water is necessary for life and it can be extremely difficult for those that have no access to it.
Clean air is another concern for a large part of the world, especially in heavily populated areas with a dense industrial base.
“For us, clean air and water are taken for granted, but in many places on the planet, the supply of both is scarce,” said Amber. “Of course, regulatory compliance standards of industrial impact on the environment are becoming stricter, but when the cost of compliance becomes greater than the potential profit, the industry (that is) willing to cheat survives, thus perpetuating a cycle: industry uses substandard practices to produce a cheaper product; brands and retailers turn a blind eye to the harmful industrial impact in order to market a cheaper product with a high profit margin, and the consumer only sees the bargain, never realizing the social environmental impacts they contribute to.”
Amber goes on to say “The challenge to those entering the field of environmental management is to raise awareness for retailers, manufacturers and consumers and discover the economical solution to sustain our environment, not just for our use today, but for the sake of our future generations. As a mom, I am up to the challenge.”
One of the projects that Amber recently contributed to is the Ten Threads of Sustainability program, which mandates that each of the global operations adhere to policies and procedures that will enable them to operate in a socially and environmentally responsible way. Issues include carbon footprint reduction, eco-driven packaging and products, responsible water and energy usage as well as providing awareness and assistance to the surrounding communities. Since the program began, many of the operations are running as 100 percent recyclable.
While working through her coursework, Amber takes what she is learning in the classroom and applies her knowledge to real world problem-solving within her company.
“One thing I’ve noticed is CSU has different ways to communicate with professors and other students,” she says. “I believe this is one of the most valuable resources offered; however, sometimes I’m the only one in the Ask the Teacher forum asking questions. Not many other students are posting in there. When you start feeling overwhelmed, use your various options of communication and do not be afraid to reach out to your professor.”