Plastics Free Mason


Plastics Free Mason (PFM) is a new student-led initiative that engages the Mason community and supports wider institutional efforts to reduce single-use plastics and polystyrene on Mason’s campuses and in its operations and events.

This initiative starts a new era of engagement with the Mason community aimed at amplifying the student voice in decision-making/planning and expanding opportunities for community participation toward developing a lasting ‘plastics free’ culture at Mason.

Mason-wide Context

Since developing a ‘Buy Less, Buy Better’ strategy in 2021, the Mason Sustainability Council’s (MSC) Circular Economy & Zero Waste (CEZW) Task Force – co-chaired by University Sustainability and Operations & Business Services – has worked with Mason purchasers, student RSO’s, vendors, Virginia peer institutions, and internal/external partners to pivot away from single-use plastics toward sustainable reusables, compostables, and endlessly-recyclable aluminum alternatives. The PFM initiative builds on that work by partnering with the same internal and external stakeholders to develop a plastics free culture at Mason through insightful research, civic action, and community awareness building.

Mason's Plastics Reduction Progress

Since 2021 Mason has eliminated more than 50% of its single-use plastics, including water/soda bottles, bags, and food service items from its purchasing! For more specifics, including elimination items and timelines, on the MSC's CEZW Task Force website.

Mason's Award Winning Leadership

In 2022, the Mason Sustainability Council’s (MSC) Circular Economy & Zero Waste Task Force received the Virginia Governor’s Environmental Excellence  Award - Gold Medalfor its innovative leadership toward reducing single-use plastic use, pivoting to greener purchasing, and advancing zero-waste planning efforts! 

New Collaboration for Civic Engagement

The PFM initiative was created from a partnership between Mason's Office of Community Engagement and Civic Learning’s (CECiL) Civic Fellows program and University Sustainability to engage the Mason community about plastics reduction in support of elimination efforts.


Meet the PFM Fellows

Mason’s PFM Civic Fellows, Lakshita Dey and Katherine Romero-Ayala, support operational change through research and lead efforts to build awareness, encourage action, and cultivate new opportunities for the Mason community to support single-use plastics and polystyrene elimination on campus. They are part of the inaugural class of Civic Fellows from the Office of Community Engagement and Civic Learning’s (CECiL) for on campus civic fellows, and directly report to CECiL as part of their fellowship.

The PFM Fellows’ work is aligned with the university’s sustainability goals, especially concerning plastics elimination and the pivot to purchasing and use of better alternatives with Mason’s ‘Buy Less, Buy Better’ strategy. Fiscal and environmental resource responsibility is promoted through the purchase and use of reusables, aluminum cans, third-party certified compostable items, and more.

The Fellows are supported by University Sustainability, the Mason Sustainability Council’s (MSC) Circular Economy and Zero Waste Task Force, and other internal and external partners.   


Fellow: Lakshita Dey
Fellow: Katherine Romero-Ayala

PFM: Awareness Resources