This article is the first in a series on Green Grants: The People Behind the Projects. Below is an interview with Jason Pessel (NYU Stern MBA ’15), who received a Green Grant for his project, Reefill. Reefill is a network of stations that gives members access to cold, filtered tap water throughout NYU’s campus and the greater NYC community. This year, Reefill memberships are free to all NYU students. 

Jason Pessel at Reefill Station

Jason Pessel (Stern MBA ’15), Co-founder of Reefill

 

GG: Where did you get the idea for your Green Grants project?

JP: It started as an idea when I was walking through Manhattan. There’s no water fountains that you can find or anything–they just don’t exist in the middle of Manhattan. So I bought bottled water, and I was with my cousin and he started screaming at me, saying “That’s tap water! What are you doing? You are making all this waste!” So I started researching and realized that like 50% of bottled water is tap water, and disposed water bottles lead to problems with plastic in our oceans. In doing that research, before I was even at NYU, I realized when we buy bottled water, we are just buying tap water–it’s chilled and filtered, and then they are putting a fancy label on it and we are spending a lot of money on it and it is creating all this waste. But tap water is pretty much everywhere, so why couldn’t we find another way to make chilled and filtered tap water on-the-go that’s easier for people to access? So that kind of became the idea.

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Contributed by Brianda Hickey

For the month of November I will be viviendo a zero waste life and gracing your computer screens with my witty humor each week. 

It has officially been two weeks of me living zero waste! YAY! This week I got a special little present from my body… I understand my period in all its glory is not a subject everyone wants to read about, but as a person who menstruates and is trying to live zero waste it is a huge issue. Therefore, this week’s blog post will be about one of the most socially stigmatized subjects: the period. Read More →

Contributed by Brianda Hickey

For the month of November I will be viviendo a zero waste life and gracing your computer screens with my witty humor each week. 

Living zero waste comes with a lot of perks: people think you are super cool, you feel like a superhero saving the world and you discover new resources! I am a huge advocate for knowing your resources. Even with all the incredible self-esteem perks living zero waste brings, it is still a pain in my bum. To be completely honest. I have to constantly remember to carry around a reusable bag, pair of utensils, cup, straw and turn down Starbucks bagels! For me, the Starbucks bagels might be the worst part. They are $1.50 of buttery goodness that wrapped in a plastic bag and given to me with a plastic knife with a butter wrapped in foil. Read More →

Piece made by Alisha Aggarwal

Contributed by Alisha Aggarwal

The statistics seem numbingly normal now as they flash on news channels—Hurricane Harvey could end up being the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history at $190 billion! 51.9 inches of rain! 56,000 calls made to 911 during 15 hours in Houston! Harvey, Irma, Maria, Jose, Ophelia. Wildfires. Landslides. Flooding. The list goes on.

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Halloween is a holiday dedicated to ca pumpkins and candy comas, but what happens to all the squash and sugar on November 1st? Over 1 billion pounds of pumpkin are produced during the Halloween season, the vast majority end up rotting in the landfill. And the sweet stuff? Americans buy 600 million pounds of candy a year with that hard-to-recycle wrapper.

I know I want to reduce my waste for Zero Waste Month, and if you do too you might want to take a tip or two from what I scoured on the waste-free web.


Graphic by Katherine Facchini

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Contributed by Mónica Rivera-Rosado

We are a group of NYU Environmental Conservation Education Students and Alumni who are spearheading a relief effort to Puerto Rico along with support from NYU’s Department of Teaching and Learning faculty and staff. We are launching this effort to help alleviate the crisis in some of Puerto Rico’s most remote and hard-hit communities, while promoting sustainability and building resilience.

A service member distributes supplies to Puerto Ricans. Courtesy of: media.defense.gov

The aftermath of Hurricane María in Puerto Rico has resulted in loss of power to the entire island, leaving 3.4 million U.S. citizens in the dark, without electric power or drinking water and no effective means of communication. As environmental educators, we recognize the importance of fostering human health, environmental protection, and resiliency. Our relief effort will focus on providing high-need communities with solar charging devices and water purification kits.
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Last week, NYU’s Office of Sustainability packed their bags and headed down south-to San Antonio, Texas. We attended an annual conference put on by AASHE, which stands for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

There were dozens of events at each hour, some catered to students, some to administrators, and some to both. Some of the sessions were led by our staff members! Each of our attendees visited many sessions on their own, and hope to bring back some of the information and knowledge gained. We wanted to share some of our favorite sessions!

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A landfill turned urban parkland seems an unlikely way to deal with waste but that is exactly what’s happening at Freshkills Park in Staten Island. Fresh Kills Landfill, once the largest in the world was officially capped and closed in 2001. Since then the site has transformed into a 2,200 acre urban park. The soil infrastructure layered over the landfill has allowed the site to become a distinct space for wildlife, recreation, and education. The park is still in the works and will not be officially open to the public until 2036. However, the Freshkills Park Alliance provides regular opportunities for people to visit and engage with the site through hiking, biking, photography, and more. Read More →