A Decade in Sustainability

Phil Valko is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Sustainability at WashU. He is a WashU alum, avid bicyclist, proud girl dad, and champion of sustainability efforts across WashU’s campuses and the St. Louis region. Phil just celebrated his 10 year anniversary working at WashU, so we thought we would take advantage of the opportunity to learn more […]

New Students Welcomed to WashU’s Sustainability Culture

Students pose in front of recycling compacter. They stand amidst trash that has yet to be sorted.

The class of 2025 is the largest and most diverse class in the history of the institution. A record 1,987 first-year students have joined our vibrant campus, and we look forward to the richness they will bring to our community. First-year students were met warmly by Washington University Student Associates (WUSA) and offered professional assistance by movers […]

Rethink Your Commute

The absence of a daily commute has been an unexpected perk of the COVID-19 pandemic, but as WashU staff and faculty are slowly transitioning back to campus offices, daily commutes are once again becoming a widespread reality. This transitional time is a perfect opportunity to upgrade your commuter habits into a more sustainable, social, and […]

In Celebration of the Plastic Free Ecochallenge Community

By Jarea Fang  Jarea Fang, Communication Associate at the Office of Sustainability, is one of the 90 WashU Plastic Free team members who participated in the 2021 Plastic Free Ecochallenge. She shares about planning the Ecochallenge, the community she built with her teammates, and most importantly, the long-term importance of an individual’s plastic free journey.   The July Plastic Free […]

Participate in Strategic Planning!

Beginning in early 2021, Washington University in St. Louis launched an 18-month strategic planning process to develop a roadmap that will guide the university’s direction over the next decade. The planning process has been organized with working groups exploring nine issues that cut across any one school or department, including a working group focused on […]

New Director Position opens for WashU School of Medicine

WashU School of Medicine has created a new position: Director of Energy, Sustainability, and Infrastructure. This position will be housed within the Operations and Facilities Maintenance Department. Now with two dedicated full-time staff, the visibility and impact of sustainability initiatives on the Medical School campus have expanded leaps and bounds, and highlights the importance that […]

The 2021 Plastic Free Ecochallenge Begins

By Jarea Fang Finally, it is that time of year: Plastic Free July, during which citizens around the globe raise awareness about plastic waste and advocate for ways to reduce single-use plastics in our daily lives. In celebration of July, our WashU Ecochallenge team is once again gathering its members to #breakfreefromplastic by participating in […]

Share our Stuff: WashU’s Impact on the Greater Community

This summer the Office of Sustainability celebrated the 12th anniversary of the move out donation program, which includes both Share Our Stuff (SOS) and Lighten Your Load (LYL) programs at WashU. Partners like Residential Life, The Office of Government and Community Relations, and Quadrangle Housing provide students with an outlet to engage in sustainable practices […]

Green Office Program Relaunches

After pausing during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Green Office Program has officially relaunched! During this truly unprecedented time, the pandemic has changed WashU’s office life completely. About 25% of green office participants responded to a survey designed to understand how offices shifted during the university’s pandemic operations, lessons they’ve learned, and what […]

Sustainability on Display at Historic Commencement

On the Friday evening before commencement, Danforth Campus faculty and staff received a communication that the university would no longer restrict the number of guests allowed each graduate. The recent lifting of local Covid-19 restrictions enabled graduates to invite all of their loved ones to witness this momentous occasion in person; a wonderful gift to […]

Join July’s Plastic Free Challenge!

The past 16 months have turned all of our routines on their heads, even impacting many of our sustainable habits. Whether you’ve fallen off the wagon or are getting on for the first time, the Plastic Free Ecochallenge is a great opportunity to get on track with sustainability goals. There are myriad ways to curb […]

Sustainable Commencement Celebrations

It does not need to be said that the past year has wreaked havoc on established programs–commencement is no exception. Since 2014, Washington University in St. Louis has pursued zero waste receptions throughout commencement celebrations. In years past, WashU has provided recyclable or compostable serviceware at receptions, set up waste collection stations, collected paper programs […]

Farewell, Class of 2021!

The end of another year is upon us, which means we must say farewell to another cohort of students in the Energy, Environment and Sustainability (EES) Internship program. The EES partners, which consist of Environmental Studies, Office of Sustainability, Tyson Conservation Corp and WashU Climate Change Program, are thankful and proud of all the graduating […]

Kamea Chayne, Author and Sustainability Champion

Kamea (Kathy) Chayne graduated from Washington University in 2015, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Environmental Studies and Marketing. With this wide array of interests and expertise, Chayne has led a fascinating career that shows the different facets and paths to activism in the digital age. Chayne uses a variety of platforms to explore how […]

Summer Sustainability Volunteering Opportunities

Are you thinking of staying in St. Louis this summer? Are you searching for ways to get involved in the local sustainability scene? Do you need to practice social interaction after a year of pandemic-induced isolation? Look no further! St. Louis has tons of wonderful organizations working to center equity and sustainability in their activism, […]

Discussing Plastics: Film Screening and Call for Citizen Science

Directed by WashU alumna Deia Schlosberg, The Story of Plastic (2019) covers the life cycle of plastic from production to pollution, from refinery to recycling, dismantling the myths of Big Plastic and exposing the human and environmental devastation along the way. Reducing single-use plastics is an important priority for the Office of Sustainability, which is […]

Join the WashU Ecochallenge!

Once again, we are participating in Ecochallenge’s annual Earth Month challenge. The Office of Sustainability invites all of the WashU community to join in on the fun! The Earth Day EcoChallenge is a 30-day environmental and social engagement program that began April 1st, 2021 and will remain open for registration and participation throughout the month […]

Sustainability Coordinator Position opens for WashU School of Medicine

In 2018, the WashU School of Medicine established a Sustainability Coordinator position within the Operations and Facilities Maintenance Department. With a dedicated full-time staff person, the visibility and impact of sustainability initiatives on the Medical School campus have expanded leaps and bounds, thanks to Alicia Hubert, the current Sustainability Coordinator. Alicia will be transitioning to […]

Welcome, Aamna Anwer, New Sustainability Coordinator

The Office of Sustainability is excited to announce that a new member has joined the team! Aamna Anwer has filled the position of Sustainability Coordinator to become one of the seven full-time staff in the office. As the Sustainability Coordinator, Aamna will work with partners across the university to embed sustainability into campus life and operations. Specifically, she […]

Greenwashing: Ensure Your Dollar Counts

If you take a tour of the average grocery store, chances are that you will see illustrations of trees and leaves, maybe vern waterfalls and birds lurking in branding of many food products.  A closer look reveals that they also have words like “natural,” “eco-friendly,” or “fresh” splashed across their label. Though you are not […]

Student-Curated Eco-Art Exhibition Opens Online

[Photo Credit: Sophie Ross, “Dumpster Dive”] Jarea Fang, Communication Associate at the Office of Sustainability, is one of the eleven BFA students who participated in Eco-Art Fall 2020 in the Sam Fox School. She shares about the concept of eco-art, what she learned in the class, and most importantly, the online exhibition that came out […]

Position Opens at the Office of Sustainability

The team of sustainability professionals at WashU is comprised of seven full-time employees. Phil Valko has been the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Sustainability since 2011 and Cassie Hage was promoted Assistant Director in 2019 but has been on the team since 2015. All joining in 2017, Michelle Patterson is the Office’s Business Manager and Internship […]

Guide to Mindful Holiday Celebrations

Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just the winter, the holiday season is upon us. It’s the time of cold temperatures, glowing lights, gift-giving, and family feasts. However, like the rest of 2020, this year’s holiday gatherings will look different. As public health officials ask us to keep our gatherings small, sticking only […]

The EES Internship Program Grows and Adapts

Despite the uncertainties and disruptions that came with the fall semester of 2020, the Energy, Environment, and Sustainability (EES) Internship Program is stronger than ever. All the program partners have continued offering various positions and adjusted some of the roles to accommodate the changes brought by the pandemic response. In total, this semester, the EES […]

A Successful Series on Sustainable Living

Since the onslaught of Covid-19, the Office of Sustainability is among many groups who have had to come-up with creative ways to engage with the WashU community. Transitioning to virtual content has presented some challenges, but it also came with new opportunities for increased accessibility and creative use of digital tools within our programming. To […]

Electric or Gas Leaf Blowers…Neither?

As we transition into autumn, leaves will soon begin to fall and scatter throughout lawns and streets. How will you manage your leaves this fall? Selecting the right equipment and strategies can minimize environmental impact.

Students Lead Charge for Off-Campus Composting

Increasing access to composting has been an ongoing effort at WashU. Responding to a popular student demand, composting came to the DUC in September 2019, at the same time as the pilot program for residential composting on the South 40 became a permanent service. While these programs offer a robust composting infrastructure on campus, a […]

Extended Warranties Prevent E-Waste

WashU Information Technology’s most recent change to Dell computer warranties marks an important step forward in managing the university’s electronic waste and changing campus culture to one of repair and reuse, instead of replacement. With the world producing around fifty million tons of e-waste a year, changes in warranty length can go a long way […]

Deia Schlosberg, Filmmaker

Director and producer of the 2019 documentary The Story of Plastic, Deia Schlosberg is an educator, activist, and journalist who graduated from WashU in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Earth & Planetary Sciences and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Visual Communications. Then, after a two-year off-road, 7800-mile trek in the […]

Join WashU Together in the People’s Ecochallenge this October

WashU’s Fall 2020 semester has finally commenced. As many faculty, staff, and students return to campus amidst a global pandemic, protocols have been put in place to ensure the safety and prosperity of our community. It goes without saying that this will be a semester unlike any other. That said, even amidst all these changes, […]

WashU Together’s Plastic Free Journey

In celebration of Plastic Free July, staff and students from the Office of Sustainability came together to participate in the virtual Plastic Free Ecochallenge, inviting the broader WashU community to gather in the “WashU Together” team. Building up on the success of the Earth Day Ecochallenge, this virtual program ended up being the perfect opportunity […]

Burning Kumquat Garden Thrives While Students Away

The mission of Burning Kumquat, a student-run organic garden at Washington University in St. Louis, is “sharing the joy of freshly picked vegetables with the world.” While the “world” — with the closure of campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic — has gotten smaller, the mission has not, thanks to faculty fellows and their families. When […]

What we’re Reading on Racial Justice and the Environment

The global mobilization for Black lives and racial justice that we are experiencing today brings us to take a close look at how our disciplines have been perpetuating white supremacy and racism. We are challenged to take every action possible to dismantle these mechanisms, and to ensure that the work we do deliberately and simultaneously […]

Move Out Donation Drive Supports Local Efforts

When the COVID-19 stay-at-home order was lifted in late May, many students began the process of moving out of their St. Louis housing. Some had finished out the academic year in off-campus housing while others came back to pack up their belongings. Others who weren’t able to travel entrusted moves to local friends or family, […]

Join WashU Together in the Plastic-Free Ecochallenge!

We’ve been thinking a lot about plastic lately. First, our team of staff and summer associates all watched “The Story of Plastic”, an award-winning documentary directed by WashU alumna Deia Schlosberg (free streaming opportunity provided by Ecocyle until the end of June). The movie tells the story of a product that was introduced to us […]

Periods are a Pain, but less so with Reusable Products

For about half the human population, menstruation is, or has been, a monthly part of life. But for many, adequate period management is still beyond reach. Unicef reports that 2.3 billion people around the world lack access to basic sanitation services, like clean running water and soap, which are essential to keep healthy while on […]

WashU Together Ranks High in Earth Day Ecochallenge

To make up for the cancellation of in-person on-campus events this spring, the WashU community came together virtually to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and take action for a better shared future. More than a hundred of us, across campuses and university affiliations, formed the WashU Together team in the online Earth Day […]

50 Years of Earth Day – Looking Back… And Forward

On the first Earth Day in 1970, 20 million people in the United States took a stand to demand a better way forward for our planet. Here we are 50 years later, ready to celebrate the achievements of the environmental movement, and give each other inspiration and motivation to keep fighting the fights of climate […]

COVID-19, Resiliency, Climate, and the Environment in the News

The dramatic and rapid changes in behaviors of individuals, organizations, and systems at all scales induced by the COVID-19 pandemic affect our environment, climate, and ecosystems. What does our reaction to the pandemic say about our ability to tackle climate change? How does social distancing impact greenhouse gas emissions? Has COVID-19 helped ease air pollution? […]

Smart Food Strategies During the Pandemic

Observing the stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic requires individuals to do whatever they can to remain at home and limit travel to necessities: acquiring food and medical care, and going to work for “essential” workers and front-line healthcare staff. As a result, going to the grocery can become an exotic pleasure – the one […]

Bryné Hadnott, Image Processing Engineer

Bryné Hadnott graduated from Washington University in 2013 with a BA in Earth and Planetary Sciences. Since then, she has had an incredibly diverse career, ranging from science reporting to research on Mars to, most recently, imaging solutions for a global intelligence company. At her current job, Hadnott works as an image processing engineer for […]

Green Restaurants & Caterers COVID-19 Update

During these trying times, our valued green catering partners have had to close down their dine-in options and have lost the bulk of their business as events and in-person meetings are canceled or hosted remotely. They now rely more than ever on the catering, delivery and take-out opportunities we can send their way. We wish […]

Join “WashU Together” in the Online Earth Day Ecochallenge

Note: If you join after April 1,you can still back log your actions up to 4 days! On the first Earth Day in 1970, 20 million people in the United States took a stand to demand a better way forward for our planet. Here we are fifty years later, and Earth Day is now recognized […]

10 Activities to Stay Happy & Healthy During Confinement

We are living through strange, stressful times. As messages echo on social media platforms and news channels provide information in a panicked scream, it is important to prioritize your health and the health of those around you. As many are cut off from their normal routines, jobs, and interactions, usual methods of self-care and wellness […]

Sustaining Our Community During the Crisis

COVID-19 has profoundly laid bare extreme vulnerabilities hidden in plain sight within our society. Some of those exist within the WashU community, many exist in the St. Louis region and, of course, similar vulnerabilities pose challenges globally. This pandemic has also shown society’s strength and grit. For every vulnerability is a measure of justice as […]

The Office of Sustainability Adjusts to COVID-19

WashU is now one of the many institutions who has closed its campus doors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The suite of radical measures that have been so rapidly adopted in the past week put priority on the health and safety or our community, which is the most important thing. The world’s […]

Green Carpet Awards Recognize Sustainability Leaders

On February 5th, liaisons representing offices from across WashU campuses gathered to celebrate participation in the Green Office Program and recognized sustainability leaders during the 4th annual Green Carpet Awards. The Green Office Program encourages the adoption of policies and practices that reduce environmental impacts of office operations. This highly anticipated event recognized offices for […]

Kady McFadden, Deputy Director of the Illinois Sierra Club

Graduating Washington University in 2011 with a BA in environmental studies and political science, Kady McFadden has worked in environmental advocacy with a variety of different groups, including the Sierra Club and, most recently, as a board member of the Illinois Environmental Council. Through network made up of grassroots movements and partnerships with local advocacy […]

Green Cup Celebrates its 10 Years Anniversary

Every spring since 2011, WashU’s South 40 Residential Colleges compete to reduce energy use and adopt more sustainable lifestyles, taking away hundreds of metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere and helping the university save money on electricity costs. Traditionally, the competition takes place over a 4-week period during which students do all they can […]

Opportunities for Students at USGBC – Missouri Gateway Chapter

Since it was founded in 2001, the Missouri Gateway Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council works hard on creating and restoring buildings and communities that will regenerate and sustain the health and vitality of all life within a generation. Consistently honored as one of the top USGBC chapters in the nation, the USGBC-Missouri Gateway […]