Street: How did you get interested in environmental issues?
Jack Pilutti: When I was eight, I wrote a paper––or whatever you call a paper in second grade––about how to throw all of the world’s trash into volcanoes. Since then, I’ve always wanted to go into Environmental Studies or Sustainability. SSAP is the umbrella organization for all the green groups on campus, and being chair is awesome because I get to “cheat” and be involved in every environmental group.
Street: What’s one green habit that you have?
JP: Even though I know that our landlord doesn’t separate garbage and recycling, I still make everyone in my house recycle things and put them in separate containers. It’s something that I’ve always done and always cared about. I know it’s all going into the same truck at the end of day, but what matters is getting people in the habit and practice of recycling.
Street: Have you done anything really bizarre for the sake of the environment?
JP: Over the summer, I did an environmental research program through Penn, and one of our trips was to a wastewater treatment plant in Camden, New Jersey. So we walked around and saw a lot of shit––literally, a lot of feces. It smelled disgusting, but I was actually being paid to visit this waste treatment plant. We saw the tanks where they use bacteria to process waste as well as the people whose job is to sample certain amounts of fecal bacteria in things. It was really interesting, but also really gross.
Street: As an Environmental Studies major, what advice do you have for someone taking a class just to complete the Living World requirement, e.g. GEOL 101/“Rocks for Jocks”?
JP: You probably don’t like rocks that much if you’re taking it for a requirement, but my best advice would be to go somewhere that you get to geek out and see something that you are studying in class. So go hiking or go camping, and when you see the side of a cliff, you can turn to your friend and say, “I know when this was formed!”
Street: Are there any natural spots in Philly that you recommend students visit?
JP: Wissahickon Park is super beautiful. I don’t know why more people don’t go there more often, because it’s so close. It’s huge, and there’s a place where you can go jump off a little cliff into a pool––it’s called Devil’s Pool. I don’t think you’re supposed to do that, but I’ve heard people do it anyway, which is pretty awesome.
Street: You are also on the LGBT Advisory Council. Tell us a little about what that is and what your goals are for this year.
JP: It’s a council with representatives from all different parts of campus who get together to talk about the state of LGBTQA life on campus. One thing I’m always interested in is getting people who wouldn’t typically turn to the LGBT center for resources to spend time there and to use it when they need it.
Street: Now, on to St. Elmo’s––what’s the best theme you’ve had for a party so far?
JP: This is one of the weirder ones we’ve done: we had a baby party, so everyone dressed up like babies and children. We drank out of baby bottles, and there was a ball pit and a mattress to jump on. It was weird, but still really, really fun.
Street: What advice would you give to your freshman-year self?
JP: Start exploring Philadelphia immediately. It's so easy to stay rooted on campus, but it's an amazing city that's a lot more interesting than any GBM.
Street: What are some of your favorite spots outside of Penn’s campus?
JP: The easiest thing is to walk along the Schuylkill to Fairmount Park on a beautiful day. Also one of the interesting things is if you’re here for the summer, there are huge flea markets and art festivals in North Philly. For example, I went to an awesome punk rock flea market over the summer.
Street: We've heard through the grapevine that your hair has a unique quality to it. In what direction does your hair grow?
JP: Most people’s hair grows down, whereas mine just grows out. My family used to make fun of me for it. My mother’s a children’s book illustrator, and she made this painting for my birthday of me wearing a hat with this huge ocean wave of hair coming out of my head.
Street: If you are what you eat, what are you?
JP: Bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel from Lyn's.
Street: What is your spirit animal?
JP: I'd like to say an otter, but maybe like an opossum or a squid.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn:
JP: Those who are willing to eat a meal at Mark's Café and those who aren't.
Street: Which one are you?
JP: I used to be the former, but then I started to notice how long those egg sandwiches will sit there all day and that I would still eat them. Then I came to realize it’s always worth it to GrubHub something, because you will be happier and think more of yourself than if you eat one of those chewy sandwiches from Mark’s cafe. So now I’m the latter.
Street: How far would we have to scroll back in your camera roll to get to a selfie?
JP: Want me to check? There’s one of me making my elbow look like a butt but I don’t think that counts. The next one after that was from Fourth of July. (Ed. note: We're impressed by the lack of vanity! We also want to see the elbow/butt pic.)
Street: If you could have a drink with anyone in history, who would it be?
JP: It would be an explorer. Probably Roald Amundsen, one of the Arctic explorers. I’d love to ask him what was it like to see the Arctic Sea for the first time. I love the idea of being able to discover something, but I guess we can’t really do that anymore.
Street: What would you guys be drinking?
JP: I’d love to try some of the Absinthe that the tortured artists were drinking.
Street: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
JP: This is cheesy given what I study, but I would love to be able to control plants––make them grow, make them do things, make trees pop, grab people with grass. It’d be really fun, and I would kill fewer houseplants. I also love asking people what their sidekick power would be, like a power that couldn’t do anything real.
Street: And what would you choose for that?
JP: The power to make any drink refill at the snap of my fingers. Finish your drink and *snap*, refilled.
Street: First celebrity crush?
JP: Young Joe Biden was very good looking.
Street: What’s your most useless talent?
JP: I can pop my shoulder blades out and shake someone’s hand with them.