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Hello! My name is Ragavendra Maripudi and I am the newest intern for the Office of Sustainability at GW. With each and every experience I have with this position, it becomes increasingly evident to me that the driving force behind the sustainability movement is a collective spirit that is strengthened by meaningful collaboration. This spirit is a dedication to the conservation of the very Earth that sustains us, and I have felt the immense power of this collaboration since the day I started working with the Office of Sustainability: when I was asked to volunteer at the GW Green Move-Out.

It was a hot and lethargic morning when I walked into South Hall on my first day as an intern. My eyes were transfixed on a group of people in matching white t-shirts, each holding a garbage bag, jostling for position around a seemingly endless pile of household supplies. There was a deep, tangible passion that seemed to connect every one of these people. I was handed a bag myself and asked to gather ‘household goods’ (anything other than food and textiles) until I had filled the bag. As I approached the pile, I could feel the energy and  excitement radiating off of every person, and as I reached for the pile, I felt it rushing through my own body. From an outside perspective, our task would have seemed relatively mundane, yet every single person seemed deeply engaged. In a flurry, we replaced the pile with organized stacks of garbage bags and within two hours, we loaded them onto multiple trucks to be taken to a recycling center. It was engaging, effective, and fun. It was a clear example of what it takes to bring people together around sustainability.

GW Green Move-Out is an initiative that encourages students to drop off recyclable items such as clothing, perishable food, small furniture, and kitchenware in cardboard boxes in the lobbies of their residence halls as they move out for the summer. A bevy of volunteers then work to sort the left-behind goods and send them to recycling centers and charity partners. In 2014, when the initiative began, Mr. Kris Ferguson, the Zero Waste Coordinator at George Washington’s Facilities Resources and Planning Department, reported that Green Move-Out collected and donated 44,010 pounds of materials to recycle. This May, Mr. Ferguson’s team recorded 59,792 pounds, or almost 30 tons, of materials collected, the most it has ever collected. 

This staggering increase is due to collaboration efforts between different communities on and off campus to help preserve these reusable materials. For example, the Department of Energy and Environment for DC has helped through a program called Re-Thread DC to place year-round recycled clothing bins in three residence halls, where they are easily accessible to students and faculty. Green Move-Out has also partnered with “The Store”, GW’s student-run food pantry for food insecure members of the community, to put out boxes for food recycling and monitored them for contamination. Green Move-Out is working to involve every individual and organization in the GW community to recycle massive amounts of materials during late May and early June. 

With my experience volunteering for them, I learned Green Move-Out is more than simply a service for a few weeks in the year. It is a movement that brings people together in their passion to do something, no matter how small, to conserve the massive amounts of waste we produce. The kind of camaraderie that this campaign produces fosters a feeling of tremendous love for the conservation of our earth. In order to face climate change with a bold attitude, we must create more emotional and meaningful movements like the GW Green Move-Out.

For more information about Green Move-Out and to sign up for volunteering, check out: https://living.gwu.edu/green-move-out

Cool People Doing Cool Things: DC Climathon 2018

Lucy Hummer

GW hosted the DC Climathon over this last weekend. I had the opportunity to watch and admire the teams as they developed their ideas throughout the 24-hour event. From 3pm on November 9th to 3pm on November 10th, dozens of community members from throughout the DMV came together to make change regarding issues both within the city and across the globe.

So, what is Climathon? Climathon is a variation on the hack-a-thon. This type of event brings people together from various different fields, areas of study and general interests to “hack” a climate issue. Ideas are brainstormed, teams are formed, and business plans are developed very quickly during a fast-paced, overnight model. Each year, the Climathon has a different theme. This year, the content was centered around food access. Therefore, all of the finalists came up with unique ideas for innovating solutions and supplements geared towards dealing with food insecurity in our urban setting.

This year, there were six finalists in the competition. All of these teams, in my opinion, quality as really cool people doing really cool things. It is clear that when bringing together a large group of people in an inspiring environment like this, positive things will come. The two winning teams, District Connect and Last Call (both pictured below), radiate positive energy and a fresh perspective on issues in DC, including food.

The best part is that Climathon connects GW to the broader DC area. Many of the individuals who participated did not have an affiliation with the university. The school largely operated as a medium in which the community could engage with one another more simply.

It is clear to me that everyone who participated in the event is going to make an impact on our city, especially District Connect and Last Call. I know that anyone who is willing to spend the night working in MSPH must be ready and excited to make change!

While the participants in the Climathon have of course manifested many interesting ideas for “hacking” food access, there are many, many more people in DC who are working on this as well. Organizations throughout the DMV and beyond are working every day to solve issues such as the food deserts and inequitable access to cheap and healthy food throughout the 8 Wards of the city. DC Climaton 2018 was a way to see these initiatives, recognize their successes and view how the community can help as well.

Pictured above: The teams of District Connect (left) and Last Call (right) pose with coordinators of the event after learning that they have won.

Interested in hearing the final pitches that earned them the prize? You'll be able to watch them on our Facebook Page coming soon!

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