Sabeen Ahmad, co-chair of USF’s MBA Net Impact chapter, refills a Net Impact-branded water bottle that the club handed out to incoming MBA's earlier this year.
Students looking for a model for how to reduce their
university’s environmental impact need look no further than the University of San Francisco’s MBA Net Impact chapter.
The graduate student club, which is part of an international
network that includes hundreds of chapters, has made expanding the use of
refillable water bottles and ridding the campus of plastic water bottles two of
its short-term goals. Earlier this year the club achieved a major milestone
when it convinced administrators at the School of Business and Professional
Studies to retrofit water fountains on each of the school’s floors to more
easily refill reusable water bottles.
The club went on to develop an entire campaign to raise
awareness among business and management students, in particular, by handing out
refillable metal water bottles with the Net Impact logo to entering MBA
students during move-in weekend.
Almost 350 branded bottles were given out, taking a cut out
of the estimated 3,400 plastic bottles sold at USF each day.
“We noticed that a lot of students were wasting water bottles,”
said Sabeen Ahmad, co-chair of USF’s MBA Net Impact chapter. “To encourage more
students to use refillable water bottles we decided to give them a gift of a
Net Impact branded water bottle.”
Plastic water bottle production contributes about 17 million
barrels of oil and 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide in environmental
pollution each year, according to Pacific Institute, a nonprofit research group
devoted to creating a healthy, sustainable planet.
Net Impact is also lobbying to eliminate plastic water
bottle sales campus-wide, something that it briefly succeeded at earlier this
fall before customer complaints about not being able to purchase the drinks
prompted USF’s food services provider, Bon Appetít, to restock a limited number
of the plastic bottles.
“It looks like this will be more challenging than we thought
and we might have to rethink our strategy,” Ahmad said.
As a club whose mission it is to grow a network of leaders
that use business to make positive social, environmental, and economic change,
Net Impact also fosters relationships with Bay Area nonprofits, such as Young
Women Social Entrepreneurs, Breathe California, and the Network for Teaching
Entrepreneurship, by placing well-matched MBA students on their governing
boards as fellows.
“It’s a good way to put to use many of the things we learn
in the classroom, from developing a business plan, to financial planning, and
marketing strategies,” said Arash Bayatmakou, co-chair with Ahmad.
Net Impact also takes part in service projects around
the Bay Area, including a recent clean up at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach in
which about 40 students helped to pick up trash.