University students hoping to reduce waste at football games and in the dining halls are taking one more step toward their goals.
About 40 students gathered in the Samuel T. Dana Building last night for an information session about the Planet Blue Student Innovation Fund, which is offering between $5,000 and $50,000 to students working on sustainability projects on campus. In President Mary Sue Coleman’s announcement about the initiative earlier this semester, she guaranteed the Fund a total of $150,000 over three years.
LSA junior Abby Krumbein, a member of the PBSIF Review Board, said the initiative’s goal is to provide funding for large-scale sustainability projects to promote going green at the University.
“We’re looking for proposals that are visible and will create more of a presence of sustainability on campus,” Krumbein said.
Krumbein added that the initiative creates opportunities for students to get more involved in sustainability projects on campus, allows students to expand their leadership experience and fosters partnerships with the University administration.
The board will review projects once they are submitted to determine which projects will receive funding and the amount they’re granted. All University students are invited to submit a project proposal.
Sustainability has become a major focus for the University administration, which is dedicating $14 million toward a number of sustainability projects by 2025. Coleman pledged to introduce measures including hybrid buses, solar panel fields on North Campus and an LSA minor in sustainability.
Rackham and Business student Phel Meyer, a member of the PBSIF board, said he is happy University officials are emphasizing sustainability.
“We’re all really happy with the fact that it’s gotten the attention of the administration,” Meyer said.
He added that it will still take some time before the University reaches its potential in the area of sustainability. Meyer said one of the areas that needs improvement is decreasing waste at football games, which is the topic of his project proposal. Meyer wants to work with the Athletic Department to instate the use of compostable and recyclable packaging and wrappers used at concessions to cut down on waste at football games.
The Ohio State University implemented a similar project at their football games, according to Meyer. Based on the OSU program numbers, he expects a similar project at the University to cost between $100,000 to $200,000 a year.
Meyer said he thinks his project could succeed in gaining funds from the PBSIF, but he is a little nervous about the amount of competition.
“I was (optimistic) until I showed up here and saw how many people were at (the event),” Meyer said.
LSA sophomore Shaina Kwiatkowski attended the session and said she would like to make students more aware of how much they waste in the dining halls. Her proposal includes a food waste audit to detail how much food is wasted per person.
“I actually went to Michigan State last year, and they had a food waste audit, and it really opened my eyes to how much food has been wasted, and so I think it will raise awareness for the students,” Kwiatkowski said.
— Ben Cassidy and Erin Forsythe contributed to this report.
Correction appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the title of the Planet Blue Student Innovation Fund.