MIT Earth Day Collective Awards Grants to Sustainability Projects

Friday, June 10, 2016

14 Grants Awarded to Futher Sustainability Efforts on Campus and in the Community

Kim Meersma, MIT Office of Sustainability Fellow 

For the second year in a row, a number of departments and offices joined forces to establish a grant program in conjunction with Earth Day at MIT. The 2016 MIT Earth Day Collective funded 14 projects to promote sustainable action on campus. Members of this year’s collective included: the MIT Office of Sustainability, MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative, the MIT Energy Initiative, the MIT Recycling Office, the MIT Environment, Health, and Safety Office, the MIT Office of Campus Planning, and the Campus Activities Complex.  

Projects were selected based on their ability to promote climate action, resource-efficiency, and sustainable behavior both on campus and in the community. The selected teams of students, staff, and faculty were awarded up to $500 to execute their projects.  

Showcasing the creativity of the MIT community, projects ranged from a furniture refurbishment workshop to an up-cycled crafts program at the MIT Open House.  


A participant in of the Earth Day Open House and Furniture Demos tries her hand at refurbishing a bureau with zero VOC paint.  


The Earth Day Open House and Furniture Demos event, one of the projects that received a grant for the second year in a row, continued to be a big success. The aim of the event was to show participants how easy it is to re-use and rehab furniture rather than buying new furniture. About 40 people came to the event to learn and try furniture rehab first-hand. “People who had never done orbital sanding before tried it and they loved it,” said one of the event organizers and MIT Student Furniture Exchange Manager, Julie Parker. Proceeds from the events benefited a scholarship fund for MIT women.  

Building on the work of the Koch Institute (KI) Green Team, the Shut the Sash Awareness Campaign brought attention to the high energy demand of fume hoods when the sash is elevated and kindly asked researchers at the Koch Institute to close the sash when not in use. “The grant allowed the KI Green Team to print the “Shut the Sash” stickers, which have been affixed on all the chemical fume hoods of the KI and to additionally raise awareness by displaying two posters in the lobby of the KI,” said Guillaume Carmona, one of the members of the KI Green Team, and a  Research Scientist at the Koch Institute.  

The KI Green Team is currently working with MIT Facilities to track the available data on fume hood energy usage at the KI. Their hope is to measure the effectiveness of their educational campaign in order to further their efforts with the remaining grant money. 

Both the Undergraduate Association (UA) Committee on Sustainability and the Graduate Student Council (GSC) Sustainability Subcommittee had projects this year that focused on reducing waste. The UA Committee on Sustainability organized a move-out reuse program for MIT undergraduates called Trash2Treasure. The program encourages students to reuse dorm items, thereby reducing MIT’s impact on the landfill and saving students money.  

In order to educate MIT Open House patrons about ways to reduce waste in their daily lives, the GSC Sustainability Subcommittee organized an Up-Cycled Crafts and Living a Zero-Waste Life event. “Our up-cycled crafts project helped patrons see materials such as cardboard and newspaper as fun craft materials instead of trash to put in a landfill,” remarked one of the event organizers.  


Students from the GSC Sustainability Subcommittee  helping to lead up-cycled crafts projects for community members at the MIT Open House.  

Several other projects received grants this year, all creating a positive impact around campus and in the community. These grants highlight MIT’s continued commitment to being a game-changing force for sustainability.  

Congratulations to all of this years' projects: 

1. FX Rehab Furniture Open House 

2. Earth Day Visiting Professor Talk with Max Liboiron  

3. How to Start Compost Collection in your Office or Lab 

4. Waste Awareness Booth  

5. Up-Cycled Crafts and Living a Zero-Waste Life  

6. ECO-Foodware and Composting Info Session 

7. Shut the Sash Awareness Campaign 

8. Waste Reduction App Challenge  

9. Cardboard Toy/Furniture Workshop 

10. Trash on My Back

11. Movie Screening: Food Waste

12. Bring Your Own Bags  

13. Trash2Treasure  

14. Reusable Water Bottles