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Student Sustainability Board to Fund Green Initiatives

Last month, the Student Sustainability Board (SSB) allocated $2,200 to support a project that aims to introduce composting in on-campus residential areas. Thanks to the funding allocation, the WashU Green Ambassadors’ waste team will be able to implement a pilot phase of their project in Dardick Hall, one of the Residential Colleges of the South 40 as early as March. The project kicks off a new calendar year for SSB, providing the opportunity to hear innovative proposals from students eager to spur change for a greener WashU.

Funding through the Student Sustainability Board is a unique resource for students wanting to initiate projects that foster sustainability on WashU’s campuses. The student group that reviews appeals was created in the spring of 2017 as a result of a merger between the Green Events Commission and the Student Sustainability Fund, both of which are part of Student Union. Its mission serves two main goals: fund and support students in their sustainability projects at WashU, and greening events on campus through the distribution of compostable ware and other waste reduction supplies. SSB receives an annual allocation of $10,000 from the Student Union to support these projects. An additional $5,000, sponsored by the Office of Sustainability, is available for graduate student projects.

Receiving support from SSB starts with an online form that interested students fill out in order to demonstrate how their project will “make campus more sustainable if granted the requested funding and/or materials”. The form asks students to anticipate the amount of people that will benefit from their project as well as logistic details, such as a timeline and a plan of action. In addition to the form, the submission includes an “item breakdown spreadsheet” detailing the type and quantity of supplies, services and funding needed to accomplish the project. This process helps the applicant develop their project plan and evaluate feasibility before implementation. Cara Cook, the WUGA’s waste team leader, explains: “We researched the supplies and services we would need, from the compost totes to the collection service, and we had to determine the exact costs so we could apply for funding from SSB”.

SSB allows students to have bold ideas, empowers them to become agents of change and provides the resources for implementation. The composting pilot on the South 40 brought to light the fact that many students were leaving dining halls with their food and throwing it away in the S40’s dorm leading to literal tons of food waste going into the landfill. Knowing that this could be avoided, Cara Cook, Maddie Parise, Alicia Zhang, and Alfredo Jahn, the WUGA’s waste team, applied for SSB funds. Now, their idea is becoming reality. Cara and her team-mates have already started to work with various stakeholders at the university in order to assess barriers and opportunities to on-campus composting:

“We talked with a lot of people from ResLife, Bon Appetit, Facilities, and the Office of Sustainability to find out why compost wasn’t already in Residential Halls and how the process works in areas where compost is collected. We had to figure out which resources were already available and which we could gain access to, as well as how the WUGA Team could work with other groups.”  Cara said.

If the pilot project yields successful results the WUGAs are hopeful that their model can be expanded to all of the on-campus dorms.

If you are a student interested in requesting funding from SSB for a green initiative you would like to see on campus, visit