Net Impact: Creating a Sustainable Future

April 6, 2023

Dr. Janet Hale and students outside at a ranch
Dr. Janet Hale and students on the Circular Plastics Challenge team: Alex Tovar, Landon Ash, and Lettie Hastings.&ensp;<i>Photo courtesy of Landon Ash.</i>

Net Impact works to improve sustainability in San Marcos community 

By Maya Hicks

Staff Writer
McCoy College of Business

One student organization at McCoy College of Business is focusing their efforts on building a more sustainable future.  

Net Impact is an organization dedicated to raising and inspiring leaders in order to cultivate a more sustainable future for the world. They have chapters at over 300 universities and the McCoy College Bobcat Net Impact chapter at Texas State University has 100 members.  

Net Impact student chapters are presented with a number of challenges to choose from each year, all relating to equitable and sustainable city practices. As a result, Texas State students have had the opportunity this year to work with Coca-Cola, participate in NASCAR and meet with San Marcos mayor Jane Hughson.  

The group spent much of the fall and beginning of the spring semester working with students at Pforzheim University in Germany — through Dr. Bernhard Koelmel, an International Visiting Research Scholar at McCoy College — to help find a solution for the Circular Plastics Challenge, sponsored by Coca-Cola. The challenge aims to reduce plastic run-off and prevent waste management leakage from polluting the world's oceans.  

“One thing we thought of as a solution was to implement technology and AI (artificial intelligence) into waste management systems,” said Digital Media Innovation senior Lettie Hastings. “They’re these tiny little sensors that basically can send a bunch of data on anything from image recognition of what bottles or cans there were, or how many there were to the weight of items and a lot more.” 

Over the course of the rest of the semester, members will focus on the Sustainable Cities Impact Challenge presented by Net Impact. In order to begin research, students met with San Marcos Mayor Jane Hughson on Wednesday, March 29 to discuss possible sustainability challenges facing San Marcos, and work with the city to find long-term solutions. 

“[The challenge] is for people that want to get some insight into financing or investing,” said Management freshman Landon Ash. “You can use that as an opportunity to work with local groups and organizations that have to do with investing and backing sustainable efforts such as recycling and waste management.”  

The challenge will force members to think outside the box and create a portfolio for $100 million in sustainability practices with the notion of being presented to city council members and investors. The pitch must be aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG 11) and propose impact investment strategies to make cities both safe and resilient.  

“It has to fall under SDG 11 so making sure it’s sustainable for the environment,” said Hastings. “Also making sure that the money is going to be used specifically for those reasons and not for short term uses like tourism.”  

The Texas State students will present their strategies at a national competition at the end of the spring semester where they will also get a chance to work with industry professionals who will critique and provide them with feedback on their pitches.  

The Bobcats have wasted no time, as they kick start their campaign by meeting with the Mayor to discuss all of the pertinent problems frustrating San Marcos at the moment. The Mayor also provided the team with resources and connections within the community that might help stimulate progress.  

“With our meeting with the mayor, we got a better understanding of what [the city] wants to improve and what they’re specifically working on,” said Hastings. “It seems like right now, transportation is the biggest thing they’re working on, and the city is running projects right now to try and help. It’s especially important that we focus on problems relating to our community.” 

McCoy College faculty advisor Janet Hale is proud of her students, saying “These guys are just so amazing. If there’s something that motivates them, they figure it out and just do it.” Hale admires the forward-thinking of her students and spends most of her time providing advice and support to her students.  

It’s the students’ hope that they will be able to create a working model and solution that can benefit the City of San Marcos and Texas State University, while leaving a positive impact on the environment and placing well in their competition. ✯

For more information, email Twister Marquiss, manager of marketing and communications for the McCoy College of Business, at

About the McCoy College of Business
Established in 1970, Texas State’s business school officially became the McCoy College of Business in 2004 following a donation of $20 million by Emmett and Miriam McCoy. The college, which offers classes in both San Marcos and Round Rock, is accredited by AACSB in both business and accounting, and has graduated nearly 42,000 alumni.

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