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A Green Transition into the New School Year

With students coming back to campus, the quiet summer time at WashU is over. For most of us, the beginning of school is a busy time when classes, events and meetings are competing for a space in our calendar. To get through this hectic period in the most sustainable way possible, WashU offers many opportunities for returning and incoming students to jump into WashU’s culture of sustainability. Here is a taste of where to start and where to find representatives from the Office of Sustainability across campus.

Learn about sustainability through interactions with the Office of Sustainability staff

The weeks of the fall semester offer many opportunities to meet with WashU’s staff and student sustainability leaders. In addition to last week’s move-in events and the Office of Sustainability’s open house last Friday, there are upcoming opportunities to catch us at a tabling event, where you’ll be able to interact with staff and students, learn about getting involved and takeaway many useful handouts for your sustainable future at WashU.

Come find us at the Fall Activities​ ​Fair​ ​on Friday September 1, from 4:15 to 6​ ​pm. Located on Mudd Field, this showcase features most of the student groups active on WashU’s campus. Select university departments with opportunities for student engagement are also present. This event provides an opportunity for students to explore options for involvement and to find experiences that will augment classroom learning. Look for the WashU Green Ambassadors and for the Office of Sustainability, as well as the 20+ sustainability-related student organizations. There is no shortage of ways to get involved!

Sort your waste with the guidance of a WUGA

The WUGA Program (WashU Green Ambassadors) is a student-managed, peer-education program that orients new students to the sustainability initiatives on WashU’s campus, including energy, food, transportation and waste. WUGAs play an important role in the First 40 programming that welcomes students to their new home by quickly engaging them in the university’s culture of sustainability. One of the biggest responsibilities of the WUGA team is to support waste diversion during first-year move in. The team was active both during the Pre-O move in and first-year student move in, helping new students and their families manage their move-in waste. In addition to recycling cardboard, this year WUGAs ran two special collections: Styrofoam and soft plastics (like plastic bags). Both of these materials are not recyclable in single stream recycling, but can be recycled when collected separately and taken to a special facility.

To introduce the campus community to the concept of waste sorting, WUGAs run waste sorting stations at many of the events that welcome student to campus, including Celebration on the Quad after Convocation, Flavors of St. Louis tasting events, the Graduate BBQ, and SUP All Night. They also help incoming first-year students learn the sorting system by providing demonstrations in Bear’s Den during dinner time throughout the first month of classes.

Look to WUGAs for advice and guidance for correctly sorting waste. WUGAs can also make presentations to student groups, so contact if you would like to set up a brief waste sorting training for your group.

Get ready to be an alternative commuter

The WashU U-Pass program offers the opportunity to all full-time students and staff to ride for free on the Metro transit system. Whether you want to go grocery shopping or to explore new neighborhoods of the city, the Metro network (buses and trains) will take you pretty much wherever you need to go!

And to make it even more convenient, Parking and Transportation will be distributing U-Pass to students on the Danforth campus this Wednesday, August 30th, at the Mallinckrodt Center, in the Gargoyle, from 10am to 3:30pm. Don’t forget to fill an online request and to bring a photo ID when picking up your U-Pass. If you can’t make it this time, get your U-Pass from the Parking & Transportation office at North Campus (700 Rosedale Ave.), Monday through Friday between 8:30 am and 5 pm, year-round!

WashU is also working hard to support its biking community. In addition to major physical improvements, both completed and to come, many programs exist to make biking on campus easy, safe and convenient. By selling discounted locks ($25 for a Kryptonite Ulock) and managing registration for bicycles, the WashU Police Department ensures an enhanced security for the Campus bike fleet.

This year, Bears Bikes, the student-owned on-campus bike store, is joining this effort by offering at-cost bike helmets, for only $15 apiece! Don’t miss the opportunity to protect your head! To buy a discounted helmet, reach out to or find Bears Bikes’ table at the Fall Activities Fair this Friday.

Take action and join the Sustainability Exchange

Launched in 2015, the Sustainability Exchange is a unique course bringing together students from across campus to work in interdisciplinary teams to tackle real-world challenges in energy, the environment, and sustainability. Students from diverse disciplines and levels participate in significant projects with clients and partners at the university and in the community. Guided by faculty advisers, the projects aim to deliver useful end products for community problems requiring innovative methods and solutions.

The applications to enroll in the Sustainability Exchange are now open for the fall semester. Contact Professor Bill Lowry at to learn more.

Fall 2017 projects will include:

  • Sustainable urban agriculture policy for the St. Louis region
  • Greenhouse gas tracking and reduction strategy for the St. Louis region
  • Green infrastructure to support a Net Zero Water Eco-BLOCK
  • Life cycle impacts of diapers to propose effective and sustainable waste practices