Greeks Gone Green (GGG), in partnership with the University Centers Advisory Board (UCAB), has selected fourth year Visual Arts and Sociology major Shashi Mostafa as the winner of the Smog Eating Mural artwork selection contest. GGG unveiled the mural, titled Ride or Die, on February 22.
The mural is located on the west wall of the ATM shelter near Price Center West, and is expected to reduce the impact of smog emitted by cars in the Price Center loop. GGG and UCAB hope that students will view the mural and read the plaque, which details the inspiration behind Mostafa’s design.
The “smog eating” aspect of the mural comes from the titanium dioxide particles found in the surface treatment spray product, PURETi. Sunlight causes the titanium dioxide to react with water molecules, converting them into particles called oxidizers. These oxidizers then break down various pollutants in the air. UCAB approved the use of PURETi last spring despite being presented with two studies which questioned the effectiveness of the product.
“Ride or Die is a photo I made last summer when I was particularly attentive toward changing my own habits concerning sustainability while I helped plan UC San Diego’s first large-scale zero waste event, WellFest,” Mostafa told The Triton. “When I saw the opportunity to submit my work to this smog eating mural contest, I thought it would not only be a great chance for me to get more exposure as an artist, but also [be] a platform to raise awareness toward an extremely important topic that I was already making art about.”
Out of 23 total submitted designs, GGG and UCAB unanimously settled on Mostafa’s design for the mural. UCAB Chair Alex Morrow explained that they chose the design because of its original view on sustainability, its representation of UCSD values, and its connection to the local San Diego community.
GGG was able to construct the mural using funding received from the Student Sustainability Collective (SSC) through The Green Initiative Fund. The SSC provided the money last quarter when it opened the contest to the UCSD community.
After installation, GGG will work with Dr. Jonathan Slade, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, to measure the mural’s effectiveness at breaking down pollutants with monthly tests. GGG plans to use the opportunity to inform students of other smog-reducing technologies and promote a healthier community overall.
“A lot of what we do to hurt the environment comes from the lack of effort that we put into changing [our] habits,” Mostafa said. “Therefore, raising awareness toward the problem is one of the first steps in getting more people to make the push on an institutional level—to make sustainability accessible so that everyone, no matter what social class, will benefit from a healthier environment.”
Samir Nomani is a Staff Writer for The Triton.