Students are crafting innovative eco-friendly solutions to combat waste in workshops hosted by Coca-Cola Beverages Florida in the Sustain-A-Bull Challenge.
The second workshop will take place Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the auditorium at the Patel College of Global Sustainability.
Coca-Cola Beverages Florida is looking to act upon its initiative to live in a “world without waste” by becoming the sponsor for the World Without Waste Sustain-A-Bull Challenge through the Muma College of Business. Its World Without Waste (WWW) program is focused on recycling everything the company produces by 2030.
Two students — Renata Gomes Martins, a senior double majoring in global business and marketing, and Takana Shimabukuro, a December 2019 USF graduate in general business — came up with the idea to have a contest that all students can partake in to help make the world a more sustainable place to live in.
The students think they can make the WWW initiative happen before 2030.
“We think we can make that happen even faster,” Gomes Martins said. “That is the challenge to students. We want them to come up with ideas to have that happen by 2025.”
March 22 is the deadline for students to submit their ideas on the Canvas page to be reviewed to see if they will make it to the final round of the competition.
“We had the idea to do something sustainability-related to undergraduate students,” Gomes Martins said. “It is really important now for businesses to be sustainable, so we wanted to do something that would teach students about it.”
According to Gomes Martins, Shimabukuro approached her about doing a marketing competition for sustainability in businesses, so the students met with the dean of the College of Business, Moez Limayem, and he agreed to the idea.
Limayem then asked them whom the sponsors would be, and after some time Limayem got the students in contact with the CEO of Coca-Cola Beverages Florida.
The sustainability manager at Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, Jennifer Baugher, is a graduate of USF. When she was told about the competition idea she became intrigued. She said after listening to Shimabukuro and Gomes Martins present the idea, she was on board with developing it further.
Gomes Martins said by the end of January, Coke approved the budget she and Shimabukuro set and agreed to give scholarships to the first- and second-place winners.
The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students, and students can either work individually or in a group of up to four team members.
In the final round of the competition, two undergraduate and two graduate-level teams will be selected to compete as the final four.
The first-place winners will receive a $1,000 scholarship and second place will receive $500.
Anyone interested can sign up through the link on their social media page or by contacting anyone involved to receive a survey form. All majors and grade levels are welcome to participate.
After participants have filled out the survey form, they will be asked to join the Canvas course page that has all the information and important dates listed for their use.
After just one week of advertising the competition, they had 130 sign-ups and 70 students attending the first workshop that took place on Feb. 26.
The final round will be held on April 17. The location of the event will be in the auditorium at the Patel College of Global Sustainability.
“The competition itself has a goal to teach students,” Gomes Martins said. “Our mission statement is to propel students to sustainable development.”
The competition allowed students to attend two workshops so they could learn about sustainability before coming up with their competition ideas.
“If they go into the competition not knowing too much about it, they may feel intimidated and not participate, and then we are not getting the results we want,” Gomes Martins said.
Sharon Hanna-West led the first workshop, and will speak at the second as well. Hanna-West is a graduate level instructor at USF. She teaches social, ethical and legal systems as well as ethics, law and sustainable business practices.
She also is the director of the sustainable business concentration at the Patel College of Global Sustainability.
Hanna-West said the second workshop will take a closer look at sustainability problems companies deal with.
“I will be talking pretty much exclusively about corporate waste and plastics in particular,” she said. “Coca-Cola will be doing a deep dive on the World Without Waste program, and some of their other challenges.”
Hanna-West has been at USF for over 20 years and said she has a passion for sustainability. She said she found the enthusiasm Gomes Martins and Shimabukuro share to be the driving force behind why she joined the project.
“They just struck me,” Hanna-West said. “They were so committed and they really wanted this to happen, so I just signed on and said I would do what it takes to make this happen.”
Shimabukuro is currently living in Japan, but is waking up in the middle of the night to get on conference calls to be part of the planning and give her input on the competition she helped start.
She even is running the social media for the competition.
Hanna-West defined her role as the person who assists the two students with any obstacles they may face and guide them with her years of experience.
“A long time ago, it occurred to me that you can probably trace most environmental harm to economic activity, so it seems as though that is the logical place to work to fix it,” she said.
Hanna-West said she believes the main reason businesses do not practice sustainability is because of the stigma that being sustainable is too complex, so her life’s work has been to simplify the process so businesses can adopt these practices.
She wants to educate students as well.
“[This competition] gives students an opportunity to really make a positive change, and it gives Coca-Cola Beverages Florida the opportunity to get some new ideas, and both are needed,” she said.
She has promoted the project in her business ethics class as well. So far, at least one-third of that class has signed up to compete.
The winners of the competition will have their idea put into practice by Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, and Hanna-West said there is a possibility that Coke may be inspired by more than just one idea and put many into practice.
Gomes Martins said the project is capable of changing the world for the better in terms of sustainable business practices because of Coke implementing these ideas.
“We can always start making the world better, and we can start right here at USF,” Gomes Martins said. “Any major, anyone, you can make a difference.”