Sustainability Initiative Microgrant winners in 2016


Erin Robertson, Fashion, graduated May 2016screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-9-15-48-pm








Marissa Ciampi, Photography, graduated May 2016
Lovely Days

Greenhouses make it possible for people to bring home a piece of nature to grow on their own. According to behavioral research, the presence of flowers triggers happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behavior in a positive manner far beyond what is normally believed.[1] However, most flowers that are purchased from garden centers are grown with the use of chemicals that are toxic to the air. Chemical fertilizers are significantly high in nitrogen, which finds its way into the air as nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide can remain in the atmosphere for an average of 114 years, making it 300 times more effective in trapping heat than carbon dioxide.[2] I’m interested in the tension between beauty and toxicity that exists within the production of plant life.

For the past six years I’ve been working at a retail greenhouse, which is part of a larger 60-acre greenhouse corporation. This past summer I worked within wholesale production. The experience not only changed the way I look at the flowers we sell, but gave me a new, first-hand understanding of the issues of climate change and sustainability that are constantly in the scientific field. Due to consumers’ high expectations of large and healthy plant life, employees simulate weather conditions, water daily, and spray chemicals for them to mature at an unnaturally fast rate, resulting a perfected fabricated form of nature. My peaked interests in topics of global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, and deforestation have challenged me to make photographs that address the importance of these issues, informs the community, and reveals a way in which we damage the Earth.

I became interested in the act of recreating an environment. It was intriguing to me to discover how detrimental a small blue granular fertilizer could be and often thought what it would look like if it were visible in the air. I took my own approach at recreating what a greenhouse would look like filled with nitrous oxide. I was able to uncover an insider’s perspective on greenhouse production to raise attention to a global issue that needs to be addressed.

[1] “Rutgers: Flowers Improve Emotional Health.” Emotional Impact of Flowers Study. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2016.

[2] Adams, Case. “Overview of Greenhouse Gases.” Nitrous Oxide Emissions. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.



Kerry Fitzgibbon, Illustration, graduated May 2016
Seed Paper Posters