Green Greeks Wishes UW a Happy First Day of School!

With summer time coming to a close, we at Green Greeks are so excited to welcome everyone back to campus and look forward to getting to work with all of our new and returning members this fall. We are so excited to announce that after two years of hard work and perseverance, we will be an accredited course this year while we dive into our third year of sustainability in the Greek Community. The Green Greeks Representative Program offers 1 credit to all of our members and up to 2 credits for our project leaders, which is an amazing accomplishment for us and we are so excited to offer this opportunity to our members.

Over the last two years we have learned a lot from our members and from those around us. We have seen over 150 representatives in over 50 unique major programs across the University of Washington with a Sorority participation rate of 84% and a Fraternity participation rate of 57%. We have seen fourteen different chapters save an average of $2,800 per year through sustainable water solutions: which is around $2ook savings in total. Currently, we are on track to save upwards of $500k in the next 5 years and it wouldn’t be possible without the immense support we’ve received from our brothers and sisters campus wide!img_2682

This year, we will be still meeting Tuesday’s every other week starting on October 3rd. We have some amazing speakers and presentations lined up for this quarter and can’t wait to share what we learn with the whole Greek Community. Since we are now accredited, our grading is based mainly on participation so that we can get as many men and women working to better our homes and our environment as possible. With that in mind, we are so excited to welcome new (and old) members to our new Green Greek course and can’t wait to see what kind of positive impact we can have on the UW campus this year.

Check out the full course information here.

We wish everyone a successful first week of classes, Go Dawgs!

Member Highlight: Alex Urasaki

This week we’re highlighting another member of our project leader board, Alex Urasaki. Alex is currently our VP of Events and works endlessly to plan our fundraisers and feeds. This quarter alone, he worked to coordinate our Pagliacci Pizza Feed as well as our Chipotle Fundraiser. He is currently a Junior here at the University of Washington, majoring in Environmental Sciences and Resource Management, making him a very valuable asset to our leadership team. Alex is also a Marketing and Outreach Coordinator for EcoReps, another organization on campus. Some other events Alex has made a huge impact on are the UW Sustainability Earth Day event and our upcoming Green Greek Competition (stay tuned for more info in the future!)

In addition to being a valuable asset to our organization, he contributes to the Greek community through his Chapter as well. He is a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity, Gamma Chi chapter. He currently holds the position of House and Sustainability Chairman and is the former Vice President and Philanthropy Chairman. Sigma Nu prides themselves on their principles of love, honor, and truth, which Alex works to incorporate in his life.

In his free time, Alex spends a lot of time outside, as any Green Greek should! Alex also is very engaged in the music world, being a self-proclaimed “avid concert-goer and music fan,” and is highly active on his Soundcloud, sharing music with other music lovers. He really enjoys being involved in the Green Greek organization because “it’s the most passionate group I’ve worked with so far and the events are a really exciting way to see sustainability in action.” In the future, Alex is really looking forward to spreading the word about the program even further, the April Pizza feed was just the beginning!

Look out for more of his fantastic event planning in the future and on facebook, Great work Alex!

Member Highlight: Talia Haller

This week, we’re highlighting on our fearless leader, so everyone gets the chance to learn a little more about our team. Thanks to her efforts, Greek Greeks has faced much success over the last few years with countless fundraisers and events all working to reduce the footprint of the UW Greek system on the planet we’re so lucky to call home. Not to mention, we were nominated for the Husky Green Award this year, and even though we did not win, it was still an honor to even be nominated.

Tali is a student of the Foster’s School of Business at the University of Washington, hoping18275270_1528386973851827_5531072327266539316_n to pursue a double-major in Business Administration and International Studies with a focus on energy and the environment. She is also a member of the Mu chapter of Sigma Kappa Sorority here on campus, founded in 1910. Sigma Kappa partners with the Alzheimer’s Association to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease, in addition to the work she does with Green Greeks and around the community. She devotes herself to her chapter and her community and Tali’s work on our small campus is just a warm-up for her international environmental conservation goals. As our director, Talia not only leads our bi-weekly meetings, but arranges for speakers from all over the conservation and business worlds. She motivates her members to not only stay on top of their projects, but provides the tools we need to succeed.

When she isn’t busy saving the planet, Talia enjoys any chance she can get to go explore the beautiful world around us. She spends her free time doing yoga, hiking and sailing, amongst other adventures. Just this past weekend, Tali had the opportunity to skydive for the first time!

Thanks Talia for all that you do, keep on adventuring!

Sigma Kappa’s Road to Sustainability

At the beginning of January last year, I began my role as the first-ever Sustainability Chair for Sigma Kappa Chapters nationwide. My passion for sustainability has – to use a nice “green” metaphor – grown and bloomed in ways that I never would’ve imagined when I accepted the position a year ago. It seems only fitting that after such hard work from myself and all of my fellow sisters, I take some time to highlight what the Sigma Kappa Mu Chapter has accomplished in regards to “sustainability” this year and share our sustainable goals for the future.

The road to sustainability is most definitely not the smoothest of roads. Defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” sustainability intrinsically revolves around long-term planning – investing now for an ever-changing future. Yet, as the movement grows, especially here on the University of Washington campus, even the most traditional of establishments are adding green to their purple and gold.

Already, the UW Greek Community is working towards chapter-wide Green Greek Certification through EcoRep’s Green Greek Program. In the meantime, certain chapters are taking giant steps to get there. My chapter Sigma Kappa, one of nineteen sororities on campus, has become a role model in sustainability.

“Sigma Kappa’s role in sustainability has been budding for the past few years. Our green initiatives really took off within the last year after the hard work of two sustainability-minded individuals,” said Hailey Zurcher, the Sigma Kappa President.

On one side was Jaclynn Treat, the current President of the Sigma Kappa Corporation Board and an architect at the sustainable design firm Perkins+Will, who wanted to pilot a brand new initiative to demonstrate the potential for waste reduction and energy efficiency in Sigma Kappa Chapters nationwide. On the other side was myself, who I think I can appropriately describe as an engaged, motivated student eager to take a leadership role in bringing green innovation to the chapter.

Together, Jaclynn and I created a “Sustainability Chair” position. It was a completely new role with no precedents and very few guidelines. Quoting myself from the annual Sigma Kappa Annual Board Meeting this December; “Less than a year later, sustainability has definitely become a cornerstone of our chapter. I’ve seen real change in our members – from the way they pause in front of disposal containers, deciding whether they should recycle or compost, to the way they jump at the opportunity to get involved in our sustainability volunteer opportunities.”

There were four crucial steps in progressing Sigma Kappa’s sustainability initiatives: 1) Creating a Baseline 2) Establishing Goals 3) Choosing Projects, and 4) Focusing on Collaboration.

Within the first month of being elected, I created a baseline that tracked Sigma Kappa’s energy expenditures and utilities, including gas, waste, electricity, and water from over the past five years using an online tracking tool called Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Next, I worked with members of the Sigma Kappa Corporation Board, specifically Jaclynn, to create reduction goals and target specific problem areas.

We brainstormed potential projects, prioritized them according to feasibility, cost, timeliness, and impact, and then got to work. Potential projects included increasing the house’s lighting efficiency through implementation of LEDs and motion-sensor lighting, sustainable food sourcing, achieving Green Greek Certification through EcoReps, and collaborating with other sustainability-oriented entities on campus, like the UW Farm.

Already, the chapter has been extremely successful in reducing waste. As of November, public spaces within the house, including bathrooms, individual rooms, the study room, and kitchen, have an easily accessible recycling, compost, and trash set-up. Making use of behavioral psychology, garbage cans tend to be smaller than the other two bins with large red signs alerting the disposer to think before mindlessly tossing everything into the trash. What’s more, members have taken it upon themselves to create unique “recycle” and “compost” signs. Above the community printer, there hangs a beautiful hand-drawn poster that features weeping trees with large, watery tear drops falling from their branches and a message that reads: “Save the trees!”

One problem the house recently solved is what I called the “One-Stop Garbage-Dump:” garbage piles up in individual rooms and then the whole trash can is dumped in the larger “public space” garbage without being sorted. To stop this, I ordered every single room its own blue recycling bin, since most of the “trash” from rooms is recyclable: paper, napkins, coffee cups, etc.

The chapter has also focused on our Green Greek Certification, spurring increased networking with other chapters and EcoReps. In fact, through these efforts, I found an additional outlet for my endeavors. I am now the Director of the Green Greek Representative Program (GGRP), which I helped to launch in November of this year. The goal of the program is to make sure that every chapter has a Green Greek Representative who takes on chapter-specific sustainability projects. The GGRP participated in the Greek-wide street clean on November 21, gathering on the sunny autumn morning to pick up trash and beautify our neighborhood.

“Ultimately, we want to create a coalition of sustainability activists in the Greek system so that we have a network of motivated people and a way to communicate about sustainability initiatives,” said Kiyomi Morris, Director of EcoReps, the GGRP’s parent student-run organization.

Aside from involvement with the GGRP, I also organized collaborative volunteer events with other sustainability-focused organizations. In line with our Inherit the Earth philanthropy, Sigma Kappa serviced the UW Farm’s “Farm-to-Food Event” on October 22nd – some manned the pumpkin carving station, while others served food, ran the slideshow, and all took part in progressing the sustainability conversation.

What’s more, the Sigma Kappa Mu chapter is already expanding our sustainability net. About two months ago, I began working with Sarah Tennyson, a Sigma Kappa from theZeta Omicron chapter at University of Arizona to create a sister sustainability pilot-project. From there, we are continuing to branch out, now talking with Sigma Kappa sisters at Washington State University and Texas Christian University.

As the sustainability movement within Sigma Kappa and the Green Greek Representative Program continues to expand (both already turning towards the national level), it is clear that sustainability in UW’s Greek Community is fast becoming the next big trend.

Originally published on UW’s Sustainability Blog.