During the fall semester, Amber Saxton a Program Manager in Facilities’ University Sustainability office co-hosted a session with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) at the 2022 Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education. The conference had over 4,700 attendees from 353 institutions and 23 countries. Amber’s session, “Tackling Single-Use Plastics on Campus,” was one of only 24 discussion sessions.
Leading a session continues a long-standing connection between Mason and The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) who runs the annual conference. Mason was the first university in Virginia to earn an AASHE STARS Gold ranking, which is the second highest rating in what is recognized as the most comprehensive university sustainability ranking system available.
Amber has also been deepening ties with AASHE leadership and NWF through her role on the national board of NWF's Campus Race to Zero Waste (CR2ZW). This year she authored the NWF’s CR2ZW 'Plastics Reduction Partner' certification program, which universities around the country can now use to guide them through campus-wide plastics reduction, and receive AASHE STARS’ Innovation credit for their participation.
During the global conference session, she advised attendees on the importance of prioritizing going plastics free as institutions of higher education, potential solutions, and was able to highlight George Mason University as a case study after our university eliminated over half its single-use plastics within the past year, including plastic water and soda bottles and foodservice containers, and received the 2022 Virginia Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award for our commitment, leadership, and progress.
Story credit: AASHE.