SOOS and the Green Fund work to build a sustainable future in Pitt
The Green Fund and the Student Sustainability Office do more than just create green programming on campus, according to Cameron Chase. SOOS strives to âcreatively revolutionizeâ and support environmental and social justice efforts in the Pitt community.
“Our goals are to increase the quantity and quality of sustainability initiatives on campus, to provide services and support to the campus community, to champion and support sustainable innovations on campus, and to ensure upholding institutional commitments to sustainable initiatives, âChase, CEO of SOOS, said.
The Pitt Green Fund aims to fund sustainability initiatives on the Pitt campus to promote environmental justice. According to Rachel Vertucci, the Green Fund also hopes to promote diversity, equity and justice on campus through its sustainable development work.
Nineteen student organizations are affiliated with SOOS, including the Green Fund. Some of these organizations include Students for sustainability, Free the planet, the Fossil Free Pitt coalition, Plant2Plate student garden and the pitt pantry. SOOS also collaborates with Pitt Bike Cave, University of Thriftsburgh, Zero waste efforts, Pitt Green Team, Disorder for a cause and Campus Race towards zero waste, according to Chase.
Vertucci, director of the Green Fund Advisory Board and a junior specializing in supply chain and global management, said the Green Fund Allocation Board is a group of eight SOOS students that funds community initiatives to promote sustainability at Pitt.
âOur board has a diverse group of members from all academic backgrounds, from chemistry and communications to business and environmental sciences, and all academic years,â said Vertucci. âThis diversity allows us to bring different perspectives to our meetings and different links with departments and organizations. “
Operating under SOOS with a separate budget, the Green Fund receives $ 5,000 each year in student activity fees and allocates this money to projects that are proposed to it. The Green Fund also collects between $ 1,500 and $ 2,200 per year for projects such as the Bring your own bag program.
The Green Fund’s advisory board reviews project proposals as well as funds and appoints liaison officers to work with accepted project groups, according to Vertucci. The Green Fund accepted 18 of the 31 sustainable development projects proposed and allocated $ 8,000 during the 2018-2019 academic year, allocated $ 1,300 to four projects in 2019-2020 and funded eight of the 13 projects for $ 7,000 in 2020-2021. They started to accept project proposal requests for this semester and will start reviewing them at their first weekly meeting next Monday.
Erika Ninos, sustainable development coordinator at PittServes Office and SOOS, said the Green Fund and SOOS are resources open to all students who wish to work on projects to make the Pitt campus more sustainable.
Students can get more involved with SOOS and other sustainability organizations in Pitt by attending their events on the first Thursday. These events take place on the first Thursday of each month in Room 510 of the William Pitt Union. This monthly event allows organizations and students focused on sustainability to come together, network, share information and enjoy pizza, according to Chase.
Natalie Britton, liaison for Green Fund projects and economics major, said the Green Fund has been working to fund COVID-safe events and projects during the pandemic.
Some of these projects included a greenhouse for the Pitt Hydroponics farm in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood, personal composting bins for students who attended a virtual composting seminar, a pollinator garden next to Posvar Hall, and two summer internships – one to develop diversity, equity, inclusion and justice training materials for student leaders in sustainability, and the other to promote composting on campus.
Britton said that an important project that the Green Fund has funded in recent years was the zero waste period initiative, which aimed to recognize the intersection between menstrual poverty and waste diversion by bringing 446 reusable menstrual products, such as menstrual cups and reusable pads, to campus.
âLooking back on previous years, one of our favorite projects we worked on was Reusable Menstrual Products Collection, which funded Pitt Planned Parenthood and enabled them to distribute reusable menstrual products to hundreds of college students. Pitt, âsaid Britton.
Britton said the Green Fund also allocates funds to the Pitt Pantry each year, to help fight food insecurity on campus. Britton added that the Green Fund has funded home wintering and cooking classes at the Pitt Pantry in the past.
Britton said SOOS and the Green Fund work to encourage interdisciplinary environmental and social justice projects by connecting with students outside of the organization.
âOur plan to achieve this goal is to work with clubs on campus that are not already working in the sustainability arena to promote more socially sustainable / interdisciplinary projects,â said Britton.
Ninos said it was important for colleges like Pitt to recognize their environmental impact and strive to become more sustainable.
âCampus sustainability projects can be tested on a small scale and have a huge impact on the Pitt community while providing the opportunity for students, faculty and staff to see how these projects can be modified to meet the needs of the wider community, âNinos said. âIt is also important that, as a great institution, the University of Pittsburgh recognizes our environmental impact and our strategies to reduce that impact and effect positive change on campus and in our community. “
Ninos congratulated Pitt on his progress in implementing his 2018 sustainable development plan and its realization of a Gold Rating Association of the Sustainability Monitoring, Evaluation and Assessment System of Advancing Sustainability in Higher Education in April 2021. The Sierra magazine of the Sierra Club also recognized the University as a “Cool school” for its progress on sustainability goals.
Chase said it’s important for students and organizations to continue to voice their opinions in order to encourage Pitt to make change.
âAs interest and enthusiasm for sustainability continues to grow among students and staff, we continue to look to the University to support projects and initiatives that will enable us, as the Pitt community , meet and exceed our current sustainability goals and reduce Pitt’s overall performance. environmental impact, âsaid Chase.