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 […]

Recycling Behind the Scenes at WUSM

The Sustainability Champions are a group of Washington University School of Medicine custodians dedicated to sustainability. They ensure that your recycling makes the journey from your desk or lab to the dumpster for transport. Our custodians are committed to keeping our campus clean and safe. We would like to give a special thank you to […]

New Resource Provides Options for Sustainable and Ethical Coffee

Coffee is a luxury good, yet the average person living in the United States drinks around two cups a day. In 2010, 5,600 paper cups were disposed of every day at WashU, most of which were coffee cups. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the carbon footprint of drinking […]

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 […]

Custodial Reduces Plastic Throughout WUSM Operations

Reducing plastic use is a critical step to decreasing both waste and greenhouse gas emissions. The custodial department at the WashU School of Medicine has taken this idea and ran with it by reducing their dependency on plastic throughout their daily operations. What started as an initiative to find plastic liners that actually fit the […]

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 […]

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 […]

Rethinking the Way we Dress

Being stuck indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic has made many of us realize something tremendously important: Our closets are too big. The scheme of fast fashion, cheap and trendy clothing that are quick to produce and quick to become unstylish, has caused us to simultaneously buy and throw away at an increasingly quicker pace. In […]

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 […]

STL Agencies Accepting Donations

Prior to students moving out of their St. Louis housing as the academic year came to an unusual close, we surveyed local non-profit agencies to see who was accepting donations and to learn more about what they needed. As a result of the health and economic burdens created by the COVID-19 pandemic, these agencies are […]

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 […]

Thinking Critically About Our Paper Usage

Imagine that you are a student at Olin Library, your arms outstretched with an ID, ready to print out a reading for your class this afternoon. The papers come out nice and warm, from a printer that is hot to the touch. You staple the pages together, retreat to a booth in Whisper’s, and highlight […]

Housekeeper Naila Smajic’s Unique Approach to Recycling Education

Have you ever seen a contaminated recycling bin and felt a twinge in your heart? Perhaps given it a sad look, sighed, and moved on? It is a common reaction, but one that Naila Smajic transcended. A staff member on the Housekeeping team on the South 40, Smajic encounters a lot of misrouted waste, yet […]

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 […]

Kick Off the New Decade by Going Plastic-Free in Your Bathroom!

Plastic is everywhere; it is virtually unavoidable in most situations and it is easy to find all of your favorite products safely packaged in a plastic container if you so choose. However, all plastic ever manufactured since it was invented in 1907, is still on our planet. Whether it is buried in landfills, polluting our […]

Residential Compost Program Completes First Semester

In Fall 2019, the WashU Green Ambassadors kicked off the Residential Compost Program across the S40 Residential campus after numerous student-led and student-funded pilot programs. The program showcases how students can develop leadership and project management skills by working together with the university administration to institutionalize new initiatives. While this program has received the operational […]

Oncology Goes Green

The Division of Oncology has made a commitment to go green! Earlier this year, division leadership decided to begin certifying all of their office spaces as Green Offices. This is no small task, as the Oncology office spaces are located in almost ten different places on the School of Medicine campus, plus some satellite locations […]

Holiday Lights Recycling Drive

Wondering what to do with your old or unworkable holiday lights? You can recycle them! The annual Holiday Lights Recycling Drive returns to Washington University this winter. The drive runs December 14, 2020 through February 1, 2021. A holiday tradition, the WashU community brings in hundreds of pounds of holiday lights to responsibly recycle – […]

Green Event Resources Expand to Include Flowers

Most people don’t realize that the floral industry generates many of the same environmental and social concerns as the food industry. Concepts such as local sourcing; waste reduction through reuse, composting and recycling; avoiding pesticides and chemicals; and fair compensation and safe conditions for workers – all of which have been embraced in responsible food […]

Composting Launches in the DUC

With the start of classes this August, WashU Dining Services quietly rolled out a simple and straight-forward response to a long- requested service by dining customers – students, staff and faculty alike. On either side of the dish return window, the waste storing holes which previously offered recycling and landfill now have two holes each […]

New Exchange Platform Avoids Waste

With frequent office moves, remodeling, and other changes in the fast-paced university setting, high-quality furniture, equipment and supplies can become a burden rather than an asset. In an effort to address this opportunity and better utilize these items, Washington University has signed up for Rheaply, an exciting new software platform that facilitates the internal recirculation […]

WUSM Gym Floor Gets Repurposed!

A recent heavy rainstorm in St. Louis caused a storm drain backup and minor flooding in the gymnasium in the basement of Olin Residence Hall at the School of Medicine. The WUSM facilities team was able to solve the drainage problem to prevent flooding in future rain events, but the gym floor was not able […]

Recycling Genius Volunteer Opportunities: Fall 2019

Educate the WashU community about correct waste sorting while ensuring that events are truly zero waste. Volunteers are needed for first year Move-In, the WUSM Employee Picnic, and the Chancellor’s Inauguration Celebration. First-year Student Move-In: August 17 For several years, the WashU Green Ambassadors have assisted the ResLife Housekeeping team with diverting massive amounts of […]

Joe Mitchoff, co-founder of Viridian Reclaimed Wood

Joe Mitchoff graduated from the WashU Olin Business School in 2000 with a Master of Business Administration. He is the co-founder and CEO of Viridian Reclaimed Wood, a company based in Portland, Oregon that has pioneered a method to up-cycle used wood into unique pieces of furniture. Viridian Reclaimed Wood began in 2004 as a […]

A Compost Journey From Research Kitchen to Farm

“To the chickens!” is now a common phrase used in the Clinical Translational Research Unit (CTRU) Metabolic Research Kitchen. This refers to the food scraps produced by the kitchen operations that are thrown into bright green 5-gallon buckets and saved for the chickens at Howie Farms, one of the vendors from the School of Medicine […]

Resource Digest: STL City Recycles

As landfills continue to negatively affect both the environment and human health, it is increasingly important for us to take responsibility. Of the many things we can do to decrease our contributions to the landfill, the simplest is to recycle. When recycling, keep recyclable materials clean and dry. Do not put items that aren’t on […]

Resource Digest: The Story of Stuff

In this digital age, it can be challenging to navigate the abundance of information that is available to us and to determine resources that are special and worth our time. We created Resource Digest to provide a diverse bank of resources that we here at the Office of Sustainability find enlightening and empowering. All of […]

The Need to Regulate Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)

Sydney Welter is a senior majoring in Environmental Earth Sciences. She enrolled last fall in the Environmental Studies community internship program allowing her to work directly with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) as a River Protection Intern. To mitigate the dramatic impacts that Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) have on human, animal and environmental health, MCE has been […]

Share Our Stuff – Where Does It All Go?

The end of the academic year is quickly approaching. Pretty soon it will be time for students to pack up and scatter across the globe, wherever their summer or graduation plans may take them. Since many WashU students come from farther than a packed car-ride away, it is not practical to ship or store their […]

Shoe Donation Drive Returns at WUSM

For the 4th year in a row, the WUSM Operations and Facilities Management Department is accepting new and gently used shoes for donation from March 11th through May 31st. Since 2015, the WUSM community has collected over 4 tons of shoes for donation to the ShoeCrew Water Projects, a local non-profit that provides clean water […]

WashU Student Initiates and Launches a Greenware Program

Only a few years ago, WashU student Jenny Fang had one primary sustainability mission in mind—to reduce single-use disposable plastic waste while also saving money. Her idea has since manifested itself into the new Greenware Program, a reusable dishware loan program that is now available for WashU students, staff and faculty to use. The current […]

Happy Sustainable Holidays!

  [Photo Credit: residentialwastesystems.com] It’s the holiday season – the time of pretty lights, gift-giving and family feasts. While we truly love it, we also know that it’s the time when we tend to consume excessively, creating waste and using greater quantities of energy. Remember, the greenest thing you can do is consume less! From […]

Recycling Relay with Normandy Middle School Students

Waste Intern Jacob Halladay-Glynn recounts his experience working with middle school students from local Normandy Middle School, who visited Washington University for the Engage 360 program on the first Friday of November. (Note: the picture above was taken during a recycling relay game with WashU students). “On your marks, get set, go!” Two teams of […]

Office Supply Drive Through Jan 31

Take advantage of the slower days over the winter break to clean out your office supply cabinets and drawers, then send surplus items to stock the shelves of the new Office Supply Exchange! Nervous about parting with the supplies you’ve been hording for the past 5 years? Relax – that is the beauty of the […]

Students Advocate for a Straw-Free Campus

Every day, between 170 million and 390 million straws are used and thrown out in the United States (according to a recent New York Times fact check). Overall, over 8 million metric tons of plastic makes its way into our oceans every year, killing marine life that ingests it, introducing dangerous toxins into the food chain. Student […]

Happy Sustainable Holidays!

[Photo Credit: residentialwastesystems.com] It’s the holiday season – the time of pretty lights, gift-giving and family feasts. While we truly love it, we also know that it’s the time when we tend to consume excessively, creating waste and using greater quantities of energy. Remember, the greenest thing you can do is consume less! From gift […]

WashU Relaunches Closed Loop Cooking Oil Recycling Program

This November, Washington University in St. Louis is starting a new partnership with the Rockwood School District Renewable Fuel Project to re-launch a closed loop, cradle-to-cradle cooking oil recycling program. This program will allow WashU Dining Services to fuel its three diesel catering trucks with a 50/50 blend of biodiesel year-round. It anticipates reducing the […]

New Green Event Certification Program Launched

This fall, the Office of Sustainability is launching a green event certification program that provides a framework for best practices, easy access to resources, and recognition for exemplary events and event planners. With hundreds of events planned by professional and non-professional event planners across the university, there is a high potential to reduce, recycle and […]

Themed-Party Clothing for Rent On-Campus!

The new store on the South 40’s storefront came out of necessity. Facing the recurring challenge to find affordable and sustainable clothes for their themed Greek Life parties, Leah Carson, Katie Kim, and Jordan Bloom decided to grab the bull by the horns and to create Weekend Wear. “We wanted to create a solution that […]

WashU Green Ambassadors Lead by Example

Move in 2018

This August, a new cohort of WashU Green Ambassadors started their journey to spread sustainability culture on campus with a two-day retreat at Shaw Nature Reserve. During this retreat, the Green Ambassadors connected over team-building activities and received training in various aspects of sustainability at WashU, including green buildings, waste-sorting, alternative transportation, and dining. This […]

WUSM Sustainability Student Group Tackles Waste Reduction

Throughout each semester, the medical students at WashU School of Medicine attend daily lunch lectures. The Operations and Facilities Management Department (OFMD) recently supported the Student Sustainability Group in their effort to reduce the waste footprint for these catered events for the first 2 weeks, when lecture attendance is highest. The student group’s leader, Alex […]

Marc Zornes, Founder of Winnow Solutions

Marc Zornes graduated from WashU in 2004 with a degree in Entrepreneurship and Computer Science. In addition to working with the U.S. Green Building Council and McKinsey & Company, Marc is best known for his founding of Winnow Solutions. Winnow aims to help businesses like hotels, restaurants, and cruise lines reduce their food waste […]

WashU Earns National Recognition for Sustainability Efforts

Washington University in St. Louis is being recognized nationally for its institution-wide sustainability efforts: the school recently earned a gold STARS rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. The university also landed in […]

WUSM Bon Appétit Cafés Begin Phasing Out Plastic Straws

“The Last Straw” for Bon Appétit The School of Medicine campus has two major dining facilities – Shell Café in McDonnell Medical Sciences Building and Farmstead Café in McDonnell Pediatric Research Building. Both of these cafés are operated by Bon Appétit Management Company, a full food-service management company based in Palo Alto, CA. Sustainability is […]

Alumni Series: Melinda Kramer [Part 3] – Grow the Movement

This is the final section of a three-part interview with Melinda on her journey through the world of sustainability. You can find the first part of this interview series here. In this section, we discuss the impact that we can all make in our daily lives […]

Changes in the Recycling Industry Raise the Bar for Waste Sorting on Campus

[Pile of plastics in China – Photo Credit: Fred Dufour/Agence France-Presse] In 2010, WashU made the transition to single-stream recycling on all campuses, making it easy and convenient for the university community to recycle. At the time, this change helped the university to nearly double consumer waste diversion. Today, about 42% of the waste generated by […]

Green Event Best Practices Showcased at 2018 Commencement

Since 2014, Washington University in St. Louis has pursued zero waste receptions throughout the Commencement celebration. Typically, receptions achieve 98% waste diversion through recycling and composting. Some of our standard practices include: 100% recyclable or compostable serviceware at each commencement reception. Waste collection stations with trained volunteers and staff to help attendees correctly sort waste […]

Share Our Stuff: An Initiative to Minimize Waste

As the semester ends, students pack up their St. Louis homes and transition to summer experiences. With only so much space in the car or storage unit, a portion of belongings become available for new uses and new owners. Thanks to the Share Our Stuff Initiative, a tremendous amount of usable goods are diverted from the landfill, […]