The Brandeis Sustainability Fund awarded funding to 10 student groups for the 2017-2018 school year, allowing them to bring their environmental initiatives to life on campus and the local Waltham community. 

An annual grant program established in 2015, the BSF provides financial support for undergraduate students who wish to undertake initiatives to improve the University’s environmental sustainability. According to the BSF website, its mission is to encourage students to “pursue a more sustainable future for our campus and the community we live in”  by achieving “sustainability success stories and [changing] the face of the campus and local community.”

Project “Plant Power: Sodexo chef training by a vegetarian chef” was awarded up to $3,700. A local chef from Watertown will be brought in to work with Sodexo staff and expand the vegetarian and vegan menu on campus. The group, led by Eliana Koehler ’21, Shalom Krinsky ’21, Lily Swartz ’20, Cody Smith Heller M.B.A ’18 and Tamar Lieberman ’19 also seeks to encourage the student body to eat more plant-based food and to improve the dining halls’ environmental impact and their impact on the treatment of animals in the food industry. 

Led by Sage DeChiara ’21 and Tamar Moss ’21, “SaveOho” is a sequel to their fall campaign  of the same name. Awarded up to $3,000, the project will set up an incentive challenge for students to decrease their carbon footprint and water usage over two weeks. In this second run, DeChiara and Moss seek more collaboration with pre-existing club and campus programs to widen their student body exposure. Their proposal states, “Through this competition, we will not only show students how they can live more sustainablly by themselves, but also show them how they can be involved with environmental action on campus in the long-run.”

Awarded up to $1,470, the “Paper Towels” mission is to reduce paper towel waste around campus. Students Spencer Taft ’19, Elyse Hahn ’20 and Anke Larsen-Yskamp ’21 will lead the distribution of “free high quality, eco-friendly hand towels from the company People Towels,” and will promote “sustainable hand-drying practices through flyers featuring our mascot, Petey the Towel Owl.” 

BSF also awarded funding to “Brandeis Earth Day,” though a new budget is pending, according to the BSF website. In their project description, Aynsley O’Neill ’18, Paige Hildebrand ’20 and Eli Lovich ’21 address the community’s low participation in sustainability practices, which they believe is due to “lack of promotion, interest, and relevance.” The group will use a full-day event, involving community-wide events from clubs, academic departments and campus organizations, to “get the entire campus thinking about how we can make our home the forefront of sustainability.” 

Charlotte Lang ’19, Anna Sherman ’20 and Grace Berry ’21 were awarded up to $3,450 for their initiative, “Winterizing and Sustaining the Rooftop Farm.” The team will add sturdier cold frames to the rooftop farm, allowing crops to be planted earlier, extending the growing season and increasing harvest yields, which the Brandeis Farmers Club donates to charities and sells for self-sustaining funds.

“Green Move-Out,” which focuses on end-of-the-semester waste reduction, was awarded $3,000. Alexandra Aldridge ’20, Cameron Bechmann ’19, Victor Bianchi ’19, Candice Ji ’20 and Lauren Rubinstein ’20 will promote donation and recycling options to students as they move out of dormitories. 

Tammy Botteri ’21 leads the “Zero Waste Events Pilot,” which was awarded up to $1,475. The initiative seeks to “increase waste diversion at [the University’s] catered events, facilitate zero waste events on campus,” and support community education. The proposal seeks to ensure that waste bins and “green event workers” are available at catered events on campus with 75-100 attendees to help individuals sort waste. 

“Food for Thought: Pilot reusable containers at Sub Connection” will provide students with reusable green boxes at Sub Connection, Usdan Student Center’s submarine sandwich station, for a two-week trial period. Awarded up to $700, Dylan Quinn ’19, Kayla Shepherd ’19, Sophie Edelman ’21, Jeremy Goodsnyder ’20, Aaron Stone ’21, Eleanor Kelman ’20 and Leigh Salomon ’19 will assess the project’s success with Sodexo staff to determine whether the reusable boxes will be provided permanently or not.

Finally, Heller graduate students Mitali Pinto M.A.’19, Meredith Marx M.A.’19, Elizabeth Keeffe M.B.A./M.A.’18 and undergraduate student Shai Dinnar ’20 will increase awareness about composting and reducing landfill food disposal. Their project, “Heller Composting,” was awarded up to $600 and will utilize a composting program at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. 

—Editor’s note: Lily Swartz ’20 is a Justice Copy editorial assistant. Spencer Taft ’19 is a Justice News staff writer. Leigh Salomon ’19 is a Justice Features staff writer.