Make lasting connections while taking action to help the environment by joining a sustainability-related student organization at Washington University in St. Louis.
Undergraduate Student Opportunities
This is a compilation of undergraduate student groups and St. Louis community organizations whose work overlaps with environmental justice initiatives and principles. Browse through these different categories to find an opportunity that suits you!
Food security, as defined by the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, means that all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life. These groups seek to fight hunger at WashU, St. Louis, and the greater Missouri and Illinois communities.
Campus Kitchen has a mission to fight food insecurity and reduce food waste in the local community. With the help of 30 dedicated shift leaders and undergraduate student volunteers, the student group recovers over 100 pounds of food a week from various outlets including the on-campus dining provider Bon Appetit, and prepare between 180 and 200 meals for three different client agencies who distribute it to the hungry.
Challah for Hunger is an international organization that raises money and awareness for hunger through the production and sale of challah bread. For all the volunteers, and many of the customers, Challah for Hunger provides opportunities to be involved in a fun and dedicated community while addressing humanitarian problems, developing and practicing new skills, like baking and marketing, gain business and leadership experience, engage in the Jewish traditions of challah and tzedakah (justice), become involved in advocacy and other forms of activism, and more.
Swipe Out Hunger Wash U seeks to combat hunger while raising young people’s awareness of homelessness and hunger through education and outreach.
Food deserts can be described as geographic areas where residents’ access to affordable, healthy food options (especially fresh fruits and vegetables) is restricted or nonexistent due to the absence of grocery stores within convenient traveling distances. These environmental justice groups work to establish urban gardens and practices to resolve advocate for communities in WashU and St. Louis who may not have adequate access to healthy food.
The Burning Kumquat is an organic, student-run garden where members of Washington University come together to cultivate crops, learn farming practices and sell produce to other WashU community members.
Cultivating Connections is a student group that partners with International Institute’s global farms program to develop urban farms in immigrant neighborhoods in St. Louis. The group engages with these communities on a personal basis through farm support and seasonal potlucks, creating cultural and experience exchange within the broader social dynamics of St. Louis. Awareness campaigns also work to educate the WashU community about immigration policy and the everyday lives of New Americans.
Education @ WashU
WashU students are part of the bedrock of our institutional sustainability initiatives. Their knowledge, passion and action are behind every aspect of our work to steward resources wisely and to minimize potentially adverse public health impacts from university operations. Take a look at these groups who work within WashU to raise awareness for environmental and social issues in our community.
The Congress of the South 40’s Sustainability Committee promotes sustainability on the South 40 through events and college council programming and manages the Eco Rep program. WashU’s Eco Rep program gives undergraduates the opportunity to promote sustainability within their Residential Colleges. In addition, Eco Reps focus on making College Council programming more sustainable. In the spring semester, Eco Reps serve as the team leaders during Green Cup, an energy-saving competition between residential halls.
The Wash U Student Sustainability Board researches and promotes sustainability measures for University programs, events and initiatives by offering consulting services and allocating funds.
The WashU Green Ambassador (WUGA) Program is a student-managed, peer-education program supported by the Office of Sustainability that orients new students to the sustainability initiatives on WashU’s campus. WUGAs play a critical role in training first year student to adopt behaviors that align with WashU’s culture of sustainability, behaviors that they will carry with them during their time at WashU (and beyond).
To be a member of WasU means to be a citizen of St. Louis, and to be a citizen of St. Louis means giving back to the city. Learn more about St. Louis’s particular environmental justice issues by checking out or joining these groups, which all do important work in the St. Louis community.
Gateway to the Great Outdoors (GGO) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing urban, low-income, at-risk youth with opportunities to interact with the natural environment through lessons and activities that instill a value of environmentalism, leadership, teamwork, science, and physical activity.
Green Action members participate in regional and national sustainability movements, maintaining relevancy and awareness of current events, politics and issues through programming that engages the community and promotes environmental advocacy.
Gusoo is a digital platform built by WashU students that aims to highlight the diversity and complexity of the St. Louis food scene. Their main focus is on immigrant-and-refugee-created restaurants in St. Louis. Through interviews of chefs, restaurant goers, home cooks, and anyone involved in the culinary process, they hope to uncover the nuances of St. Louis communities that many often overlook.
V.E.R.D.E. (Volunteers for Environmental Restoration, Development and Education) fosters greater awareness about environmental issues among school children and participates in environmental restoration events around St. Louis.
The sharing economy is a model that encourages the sharing of goods and resources within a group of people, allowing materials to be more fully and effectively utilized. This approach reduces the need for individuals to purchase new materials and avoids the associated unnecessary waste from production and disposal. Look into these groups to find how you can participate in the WashU sharing economy.
SWAP’s mission is to promote re-use within the Washington University community through the free exchange and affordable sale of donated goods. SWAP has both a storefront (the Trading Post) operated during the school year and an annual Move Out Collections Program (SOS) and Move In Sale. Learn more on Facebook and Instagram.
WUpcycle promotes sustainable fashion practices and environmental awareness through encouraging and teaching ethical techniques and discussing the challenges of the fashion industry. Every week, they host creative workshops focusing on upcycling and sustainability. Anyone is welcome!
Not all groups that do environmental justice groups have to be “green groups” or fall under the jurisdiction of WashU. Check out these groups below which have a more career-focused missions but still address issues of environmentalism and equity.
Engineers without Borders encourages interested students of all schools to apply their academic knowledge to projects in developing communities that focus on the environment, equity and economics.
MEDLIFE is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that partners with low-income communities in Latin America and Africa to improve access to medicine, education, and community development projects. Their mission here at MEDLIFE is to build a worldwide movement empowering the poor in their fight for equal access to healthcare, education, and a safe home. To achieve their mission, they take a different approach to social justice work: listening, collaborating, prioritizing sustainability, and always following up.
As the premier green task force on campus, Net Impact strives to give students the opportunity and skills to make environmentally and socially responsible change happen on campus. Net Impact grows and strengthens a network of leaders who believe in the power of business to create a positive social, environmental and economic impact.
Graduate Student Opportunities
While undergraduate student groups tend to be more robust, graduate students still have more than enough opportunities to advocate for their communities either with their peers or with bigger organizations. Aside from local St. Louis organizations that need your help, check out these student groups formed by graduate students for graduate students to find your place.
The Energy & Environmental Law Society (EELS) explores the intersection of law and the environment through educational speaking events, community service projects, collaboration with other campus groups, as well as by promoting sustainability in the use of law school facilities. EELS aims to prepare and inspire students to enter the increasingly complex fields of energy and environmental law.
One Health is the idea that the health of humans, animals, and their environment are inextricably linked, and that caring for the health of any one of those stakeholders requires caring for them all. One Health at WUSM is Washington University School of Medicine’s student interest group in One Health.
BARN works to bring a better understanding of rural communities, and their cultures and needs, to the Brown School and the broader community.