Green Competition Encourages More Sustainable Ideas
By MARY WENDT
The Going Green Grant Fund provided by The University of Mary Washington’s Dining Services is an opportunity for students and faculty to win funds for an organization or project they create dedicated to sustainability and wellness at UMW and in the community
“This grant was established so UMW students, faculty and staff may apply for funds to support sustainability and wellness projects on campus as well as in the surrounding Fredericksburg community,” said UMW’s dining website.
With each purchase of the Go Green meal plan, UMW puts $ 5 into the grant to give away at the end of the year. While only commuter students can purchase the meal plan, everyone is welcome to apply for the grant. Applicants also have to write an essay about a project they would like to fund dedicated to sustainability.
The winners are chosen by a committee of people from UMW dining and are selected based on Sodexo’s 14 commitments to sustainability.
According to UMW’s dining website these commitments include “reducing our carbon intensity across all our operations and clients’ sites to fighting hunger and malnutrition [by] engaging the entire Sodexo community including employees, customers, clients and suppliers.”
Dining services has adopted Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow plan to make UMW, as well as the entire community, a more sustainable food choice, according to Emily Thurston, marketing manager for dining services, and Christine Porter, director of residence life and commuter students.
“These commitments will reduce energy, water and waste, promote healthier, more sustainable food systems and foster local community development,” said UMW’s dining website. “Each of these commitments makes a difference for our priorities of environment, health, and community.
Thurston called the Better Tomorrow Plan, “a broad list of goals and initiatives.” She added, “The Fourteen Points or The Better Tomorrow Plan aren’t just things we do because we have to, they are things we do because we want to.”
Emily Sherman, a junior and president of the Ecology Club, said there are a few projects she, as well as the Ecology Club, are working on to promote sustainability on campus. These projects include composting through Seacobeck and putting solar panel lights in the tennis courts. She is also encouraging all Ecology members to apply for the grant.
The grant is a way for students to directly benefit from money put into meal plans.
“I’m hoping that people not associated with Eco club will get wind of it,” said Sherman. “I’m hoping people will be inspired by available money to start something up.”
At one of their Ecology Club meetings Sherman mentioned other schools that had more efficient ways of being sustainable, such as only having organic meals.
“It would be nice, but we are taking small steps,” said Sherman. “They are encouraging students to promote Sodexo products which would potentially be healthier than things students would buy outside of UMW’s dining.”
While there are still differences to be made, Sherman said, “It’s cool they are making changes in smaller ways.”
Porter said buying the Go Green meal plan would not only benefit UMW’s sustainability, but every student’s individual sustainability practices.
“All around it is just a really sustainable thing to do,” said Porter. “It doesn’t increase [the student’s] carbon footprint…because they would spend less time driving and they wouldn’t have to do cleaning at home.”
Drema Khraibani, a junior environmental science major, commutes to UMW and is happy to see the school making such an effort to go green.
“I am glad our dining services is at least trying to make an effort and contributing money for a grant is a significant step in my eyes,” said Khraibani.
The last day to apply for this grant is April 27, 2012.