Plastics Free Mason (PFM) is a 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.
PFM is an action and awareness campaign 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. Led by the Zero Waste Mason Civic Fellows, PFM partners with both institutional stakeholders and Mason community members to develop a single-use plastics free culture at Mason through insightful research, civic action, and community awareness building.
Zero Waste Mason Civic Fellows
Mason’s Zero Waste Mason Civic Fellows, Lakshita Dey and Zachary Kim, 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 Civic Fellows program through the Office of Community Engagement and Civic Learning’s (CECiL) and directly report to CECiL as part of their fellowship.
The Zero Waste Mason Fellows’ work to lead the Plastics Free Mason initiative 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 work on Plastics Free Mason is supported by University Sustainability, the Mason Sustainability Council’s (MSC) Circular Economy and Zero Waste Task Force, and other internal and external partners.
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In 2021, the Mason Sustainability Council’s (MSC) Circular Economy & Zero Waste (CEZW) Task Force worked in collaboration with Mason purchasers, campus vendors, Virginia peer institutions, and other state partners to pivot university operations away from single-use plastics and toward reusable, compostable, and recyclable alternatives. Since then, Mason has eliminated over 50% of its single-use plastics from university operations, including water/soda bottles, bags, and food service items from purchasing. 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 continues its commitment to reducing single-use plastics and polystyrene, eliminating all university purchasing of:
- Single-use plastic water bottles
- Single-use plastic beverage bottles (specific exceptions based on availability)
- Single-use plastic bags
- Single-use plastic and polystyrene foodservice containers and lids (cups, bowls, hinged containers, etc.)
- Single-use plastic and polystyrene cutlery, stirrers, and straws
- Single-use plastic coffee pods
- Single-use plastic floor cleaning/mop supplies
- Single-use plastic fencing
- Single-use plastic balloon
- Single-use plastic/vinyl tablecloths
- Single-use plastic ribbon, confetti, and glitter
- Single-use plastic name tags
- When feasible, single-use plastic small waste/recycling bin liners (< 23 gallons)
To learn more about Mason’s single-use plastics and polystyrene elimination and reduction efforts, please visit the MSC’s CEZW Task Force website.