Students for Sustainability organize new initiatives, campaigns for on-campus sustainability


Nina Martinez / Hilltop Views

SFS Garden Director Luke Tobias harvests basil and cilantro at the hydroponic farm stand.

Students for Sustainability and the university’s Office of Sustainability offered multiple events to celebrate campus sustainability month this October. This fall season, SFS has been organizing and implementing sustainable alternatives on campus. 

On Sept. 28, for the “Eat Local” food challenge, SFS Garden Director Luke Tobias supplied Bon Appétit — the food service that is partnered with St. Edward’s — with fresh basil, kale and cilantro. Three months before the challenge, Tobias began planting herbs and greens at the hydroponic farm stand in between John Brooks Williams North and South and at the campus garden. Tobias was tasked by SFS President Ethan Tobias to harvest the plants for the challenge.

Luke Tobias also shared that the materials used for gardening are reused and sustainable. In an effort to be resourceful, SFS uses mulch from the chopped-down, broken tree branches from campus. A border, also made from the trees on campus, keeps the plants and mulch in place. With help from Roy Johnson, the university’s arborist, some of the leaves gathered from on-campus trees are frequently composted into the garden. SFS also composts the coffee grounds from Jo’s Coffee on campus into the garden. 

Bon Appétit is looking at purchasing herbs and vegetables from SFS in the near future, buying the produce from the organization at a fair market price. To continue their sustainability efforts, SFS unveiled a plastic waste reduction campaign at their plastic reduction forum on Oct. 13. 

Ethan Tobias announces SFS’s new Tap the Hilltop Campaign at the forum. (Nina Martinez / Hilltop Views)

At the forum, Ethan Tobias announced Tap the Hilltop, the organization’s campaign for plastic waste reduction. SFS relaunched the campaign this October after it was originally launched in 2015. SFS is pushing for a switch from single-use plastic items to sustainable options instead. The campaign promotes a petition “to show university administrators that students care about this issue and want to see change.” Ethan Tobias shared examples of plastic waste on campus, ranging from cups and straws at Jo’s Coffee to the to-go containers at the dining halls. 

On-campus dining used to offer compostable and reusable options in 2012, but their popularity declined after compostable clamshells were frequently found in the trash bins, not the compost bins. SFS told forum attendees that the organization is working on reinstating the reusable to-go containers. 

Students can get involved this campus sustainability month in a myriad of ways. On Oct. 22, SFS is hosting the homecoming community service project: a SERVE 1 Day garden workday at the community garden. On Oct. 24 at 6 p.m., students can stop outside of Hunt Hall for a “Meet & Greet” with the Midwest Bon Appétit fellow Elise Kulers at the Kresge Room in Ragsdale. The first fifteen students will receive a DIY spring roll demo from Kulers.

Campus sustainability month wraps up with a garden social at the community garden on Oct. 25 and a homecoming trash pick-up on Oct. 30 at noon.