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The Upstart Green Games

Sucharita Subramanian (BSBA’20) helps inspire sustainable choices

Spin the wheel to win a prize—and help save the planet. That was Sucharita Subramanian’s big idea for getting students buzzing about sustainability. As president of BU’s Net Impact undergraduate chapter—part of a global network of students and professionals using business skills to make a positive impact on the environment—Subramanian (BSBA’20) is on a mission to help her peers make greener choices in their everyday lives. When she joined BU Net Impact as a freshman, Subramanian realized the group wasn’t exciting students about doing their part for the planet. “Students didn’t want to hear about saving the environment in the middle of their day,” she says, “so stopping them on their way to or from class didn’t work.”

She decided to shake things up. In 2018, she helped BU Net Impact launch an awareness campaign in collaboration with the University’s sustainability@BU initiative.

“I wanted to make it fun for students to learn about these topics. We designed a table where students could come and spin a wheel to win free stuff. While we had them there, we’d talk to them about making sustainable choices, and they’d leave with a prize that encouraged them to do so, like a reusable water bottle or a travel mug.”

The entertaining, interactive approach worked: nearly 400 students participated during the weeklong campaign. “In that week alone, we helped save 70 kilograms of waste, 100 kilograms of carbon emissions, and 21,700 liters of water,” Subramanian says. The chapter tracked the campaign’s impact through the BU Sustainability app, where users log their sustainable choices, big and small—from buying solar-powered lights to using their own mug at Starbucks—and the app calculates the emissions saved.

Working with BU Net Impact, which also brings speakers to campus from local companies, has shown Subramanian how she can incorporate advocacy into her career; she hopes to work in retail strategy. Seeing companies from various industries using their financial power to help the planet has proved that anyone can advocate for change, no matter their job title. “You can make your brand of sustainability uniquely your own, and you can bring those practices to any career.”