Planet Blue Student Innovation Fund: Grant Winners Announced for 2021

The Planet Blue Student Innovation Fund (PBSIF), run by the Student Sustainability Coalition, provides grant funding for large-scale, student-led projects that increase sustainability on U-M’s Ann Arbor campus. The grant came into existence in 2011 after emerita U-M President Mary Sue Coleman approved many of the recommendations from the Campus Sustainability Integrated Assessment — a process that looked much like the recent President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality that many students, faculty, and staff have been involved with over the past two years. Past initiatives that have received funding include the U-M Campus Farm, the Maize and Blue Cupboard, the Strawbale Building, and the Food Recovery Network. 

This year, we selected three amazing student-led projects to fund. In such a challenging year when most of us were just trying to keep up with virtual learning, a semblance of a social life, and well-being practices for ourselves, our pets, and our plants, we were impressed with the applications we received. Talk about productive pandemic projects!  

Global CO2 Initiative Student Association (GCISA) Carbon Capture Projects

We decided to fund a project from the Global CO2 Initiative Student Association, which aims at combating the carbon dioxide crisis in our environment. GCISA’s goal is to build a carbon capture machine that is able to take carbon out of the atmosphere, and perhaps more importantly, use the process of building this machine as an educational tool for many students across campus. This will not only engage students by giving them the opportunity to build their own machine, but also directly increase campus sustainability. 

Electricity Generating Workout Machines

We also chose to fund a project led by Engineering Student Government’s Sustainability Committee. They plan to use their PBSIF funding to install 2 electricity generating treadmills in a campus recreation building over the next year. These treadmills capture energy from human exercise and send that electricity back to the building! 

Sustainable Period Products

Last but not least, we provided funding for the continuation of a project led by a U-M graduate student named Ember Bradbury. Ember’s project aims to make reusable products such as JUNE cup and Thinx underwear more accessible to students and help address the inequities and negative environmental and health impacts of disposable menstrual products. The project eventually hopes to partner with Student Life and the Maize & Blue Cupboard to make these products more accessible to students year-round. 

“Through the project, I hoped to facilitate a community where there is less shame around menstruation and more room for education and discussion about our bodies, less economic barriers set-up for menstruating people and more accessibility, and healthier products available without the cost….I’m so grateful to PBSIF for funding the Sustainable Period Project, and I am excited to be creating a more supportive space for menstruating people on campus with my many incredible collaborators.”

– Ember Bradbury

Congratulations to all of this year’s PBSIF winners! We look forward to watching as you implement your projects across campus. We hope they inspire more and more students to think about our U-M home as a living-lab where we can pilot innovative ideas and start to transition to a more sustainable and just future.

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