Tag: sustainability

Sustainability champions Nick Annin, Elise Fabbro and Nicola Salzman graduate this month from Washington University in St. Louis poised to fight the globe’s most pressing problem with a powerful tool: the free market.

Though these students support laws and treaties that protect the environment, they also recognize that markets can move faster. And, in this battle, every second counts.

Nick Annin plans to pursue a Masters in Finance at Olin after earning his undergrad degree. Majors: Environmental policy and writing in Arts & Sciences. 

“There is a myth that the economy and the environment are inherently at odds,” said Annin, a senior in the environmental studies program in Arts & Sciences. “We know, in fact, the opposite is true. A healthy economy depends on a healthy environment.”

The three advocates share much in common, including an early admiration for former vice president Al Gore. Each said Gore’s 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” transformed climate change from a vague cause for concern into, for each of them, a call to action.

Annin remembers watching the film in fourth grade with his father Peter Annin, a renowned environmental journalist. Annin felt as if he might vomit.

“All my life, I had gone camping and the woods were my home,” said Annin, a native of Madison, Wis. “The idea that all of that was threatened was horrifying.”

Nicola Salzman Majors: Environmental policy in Arts & Sciences and leadership and strategic management in Olin Business School.

Salzman, also a senior in environmental studies in Arts & Sciences, was in high school in Boston when she read a book version of “An Inconvenient Truth.” She remembers looking at the adults around her thinking, “Wait? You knew about this? And you’re not doing everything you can to fix it?”

And Fabbro, a law student, remembers her Palo Alto, Calif., high school inviting Gore to deliver his “Inconvenient Truth” presentation live.

“I walked out of there changed,” Fabbro said. “Since then, the environment and our impact on it is what I think when I go to bed at night, and when I wake up in the morning.”

In 2013, they would all arrive at the same time at the Danforth Campus. Annin came to play football for Coach Larry Kindbom; Salzman liked the campus culture; and Fabbro transferred to the School of Law when an admissions officer serendipitously called the day she learned her current program was losing two environmental law experts.

Once here, they all applied to participate in the international climate negotiation seminar. They also each attended the global climate talks, known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conferences of the Parties (COP) as a delegate from Washington University.

Elise Fabbro Degrees: JD, School of Law and MBA, Olin Business School

It’s a unique opportunity, one that few universities extend to undergraduates, said Beth Martin, senior lecturer in environmental studies in Arts & Sciences. At the conferences, the students tracked specific articles of the agreement such as mitigation or finance, and attended negotiations and forums featuring climate leaders such as Gore and former United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

“They see how diplomacy works and how words matter,” said Martin, who teaches the international climate seminar and leads the Washington University observer delegation. “The students also meet people whose daily lives and homes are profoundly impacted by climate change. It is both an incredible educational and emotional experience.”

All three students consider the conference the capstone of their academic careers. “We participated in history,” said Fabbro, who attended COP 21 in 2015 in Paris with Annin.

“I asked myself over and over again, ‘How am I here?’” said Salzman, who attended COP 22 in Marrakesh in 2016. “It was an experience unlike one I could ever have in a classroom.”

Fabbro, Annin and Salzman left their respective conferences buoyed. The innovations of engineers, the research of scientists, the resolve of diplomats — the gains were real. And yet each returned, more convinced than ever, that global talks and international treaties can only take us so far. The private sector can — and must — play a pivotal role.

For a closer look at Washington University’s leading sustainability champions and their vision for world for a healthy environment and economy, link to their Class Acts profiles.

Nicole Hudson, Lead Catalyst (executive director) of  Forward through Ferguson, the non- profit charged by the Ferguson Commission to facilitate implementation of the Ferguson Commission report, will deliver the opening address at the second annual Impact Investing Symposium, Friday, Feb. 24, 1:00-5:00 p.m. in Bauer Hall.

Nicole Hudson

Nicole Hudson

Panel discussions with representatives of the investment community, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, banking, and local foundations will complete the afternoon’s agenda.

Register for symposium here.

“Olin Net Impact is the Washington University chapter of Net Impact, a community of more than 30,000 change makers who are using our jobs to tackle the world’s toughest problems. We put our business skills to work for good throughout every sector, showing the world that it’s possible to make a net impact that benefits not just the bottom line, but people and planet too.”


CATEGORY: Career, News

I thought I was doing the the right thing by dutifully throwing my empty Starbucks coffee cups into the recycling bin. But thanks to WashU’s Recycling Geniuses, I have seen the error of my ways.

recycling genius close upAbbie and Hanusia (pictured above), Recycling Geniuses from the Office of Sustainability, shared their wisdom near a recycling bin in Bauer Hall before semester break. I felt terribly guilty when I learned that I have been contaminating the recycling process, but they assured me I was not alone. In fact, a lot of people on campus have been confused by the multiple options for discarding waste, according to our resident Geniuses.

recycle binUnfortunately, the confusion has lead to heavy contamination of campus waste – so much so that the hauling company has rejected our trash on a regular basis. And that leads to expensive fees and undermines our waste diversion efforts.

compost bin

As much as half of our sorted recycling and compost is being routed to the landfill due to high contamination!


landfill binTo clear up the confusion and clean up our recycling habits, the Office of Sustainability has created new, easy to decipher signs and recycling guidelines.  You can also find downloadable signs that can be posted in offices and other areas at this link.


One simple rule: Recycling bins should be filled with clean, dry waste. That means no products containing food, liquid or ice. Paper-based soda cups, coffee cups or plastic utensils also cannot be recycled.

Some of the big changes you will notice are that paper to-go cups and boxes are NOT recyclable and should be put in landfill (although to-go boxes should be composted, if composting is available). As a reminder, food and liquids are the primary contaminant in the recycling loads, so always make sure your containers are empty before recycling them.

It’s a new year – let’s all try to follow the new recycling guidelines and develop new habits during “Recyclemania,” – the nationwide challenge where hundreds of universities vie to recycle the largest percent of school waste. Recyclemania kicks off Feb. 5 and runs for eight weeks.





CATEGORY: News, Student Life

To say I was inspired by those around me at the Net Impact Conference would be an understatement. Graduate and undergraduate students from around the globe gathered to learn, network, and arm themselves with tools to strengthen and grow their Net Impact chapters.

“We should be inspired by people…who show that human beings can be kind, brave, generous, beautiful, strong- even in the most difficult circumstances.”

The Career Expo buzzed as students and employers met to discuss careers focused on impact work and companies who invested capital and energy into making an impact within their firms and their communities.

The Co-Founder of #BlackLivesMatter illustrated how the challenges we face cannot be solved alone. We need to engage one another. Senior leadership from major corporations like Toyota, Walmart, and Campbell’s explained their 10-year plans on a variety of challenges and then discussed how those goals would affect our world. To hear from the change-makers themselves is powerful enough to send chills down your spine.

etsy-quotesHowever, my most poignant realization at the conference came when I realized who surrounded me in the audience. In particular, those sitting within my row. Of course everyone at the Net Impact Conference had the passion, energy, and ability to make communities stronger and the world a better place. But some of the biggest heroes in my life are the ones that I see on the frontlines every day, working to continue shaping the Olin Business School, the Washington University community, and the city of St. Louis.

As I listened to some of the keynote speakers deliver their messages, I can assure you there is no denying they have a gift for communication. But I see that same gift in my fellow classmates who joined me for the Net Impact Conference. It was an honor to attend the NI Conference on behalf of Olin and WashU; but it was even more of an honor to sit with my fellow classmates, who I know are the change-makers in the ‘now’; not the “change-makers of tomorrow”—a moniker often given to millennials.

I submit that my classmates are making this community and world a better place. Maybe they do not have the megaphone to bring to light what they are doing. Or maybe they do not have the traction or manpower necessary to create a revolution. But I know they will prove me right as they continue on their missions.

Heather Reinhardt, MBA’17, is a former Walmart intern who introduced CEO Doug McMillon prior to his remarks at the 2016 Net Impact Conference in Philadelphia. At the event, McMillon outlined a series of commitments that will benefit customers and communities – learn more about his speech here.

About Net Impact:

Net Impact is a global community of students and professionals who aspire to be effective drivers of social and environmental change. Visit www.netimpact.org.

CATEGORY: News, Student Life

October is Active Transportation Month (ATM) at WashU. The goal of ATM is to motivate staff, faculty, and students to kick the car habit and try active, low-carbon means of transportation. If you cannot imagine going car-free, consider carpooling or budgeting time to try transit one or two days during the month. If you are an everyday cyclist, try and commit to going grocery shopping or getting to and from the laundromat on two wheels. Whatever your commitment to active transportation is today, we ask that you step it up during the month of October!

This fall’s ATM begins on October 1 with a bike trip to Grove Fest, an annual event featuring street performers, live music, and great food from local Grove businesses. It continues with free bicycle tune-ups by Big Shark Bicycle Company on the Danforth and School of Medicine campuses.

A pivotal component of ATM is the Active Transportation Challenge, which offers the WashU community the chance to form cyclist teams and track their commutes in terms of miles logged, calories-burned, and CO2-saved. Last fall, 81 teams logged 931 car-free trips, and we hope that even more will participate this year!

Active Transportation Challenge teams will earn points for commute totals, attendance at events, and participation in a photo contest. All participants will receive a free t-shirt and an invitation to our awards ceremony lunch. Teams will also be eligible for trophies and other prizes based on points earned. To learn more and sign-up, click here.



Bike trip to Grove Fest, 3-6pm
The Office of Sustainability and Outing Club are co-sponsoring the ride. Participants will leave from Brookings Hall on the Danforth campus. Helmets are required! To register, click here.


Free bike tune-ups by Big Shark Bicycle Company, 11am-2pm
North Side of Danforth University Center (in partnership with the Parking & Transportation Department)


Free bike tune-ups by Big Shark Bicycle Company, 11am-2pm
Hope Plaza, School of Medicine (in partnership with the School of Medicine’s Transportation Services)


Coffee for Commuters, 8-9:30am
Danforth University Center, Room 234


Active Transportation Challenge Awards Ceremony, 11:30am-1pm
Danforth University Center, Room 239

Don’t forget: Pairing up your activities with the WashU Moves Challenge will also set you on your way to healthy and sustainable habits!

Content from the WashU Sustainability blog

CATEGORY: News, Student Life