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!

Speaker Highlight: Kristi Straus

Did you know that the way we live our lives now is threatening our life support system here on Earth? How about the fact that 1/3 of the waste on the University of Washington’s campus is food waste? As of 2012, we are using 156% of the biodiversity on our planet, according to speaker Kristi Straus. We were lucky enough to have Dr. Kristi Straus come and talk to us this last Tuesday, May 9th, about her passion for sustainability sustainable habits.

Sustainability is a very broad term that essentially means to meet your present needs without it affecting the ability of future generations to meet their needs or run out of resources. The premise behind sustainable eating is finding “What needs to change so we can live sustainably… it also includes economic and social components…socially just and economically manageable for those who live in those systems,” according to Dr. Straus. Everyone consumes food, but few people know how to do so in a sustainable manner. Sustainable food habits include food that is ecologically responsible, fair and accessible, produces no waste, is healthy, and is local.  While the idea of “Local” is up to your discretion, the concept your “food-print” comes into play when you think about the distance food travels to get to your plate. Your food-print tells you the environmental impact of your food consumption, which is most commonly measured in the miles it takes for food to travel from the point of production to the point of consumption. Currently, the average distance food travels to get to us is around 1,500 miles; just think of the carbon dioxide implications involved in that much travel!

The most important thing you can do to reduce your food-print is to eat locally – within reason. Eating local doesn’t just reduce the food-print, but it also provides fresher food and benefits the immediate economy of your community. Buying local could mean participating in a community sponsored agriculture program or buying at a farmer’s market. To get the most out of this, look for organic certified products: they’re not only better for the environment, but they’re better for you too!

Kristi Straus grew up in California and went to school in Maine as a Biology Major. She then took time off to travel and went to Morocco to participate for the Peace Corps for two years, where she worked with health and clean water and witnessed how sustainable living works in other countries. Dr. Straus said that it “made her think about resources and happiness in a new way.” She now has a Ph.D. from the University of Washington and focuses on how conservation, science, and policy all play into one another.

(For UW Students) To find out more about the fight for sustainability and our planet, Dr. Straus recommends taking ENVIR 239, ENVIR 439, ENVIR 240, or ENVIR 495. Or visit one of these sites:

 

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!

Speaker Highlight: Jaffer Ali

Following a busy week filled with Earth Day activities, we were fortunate enough to welcome Jaffer Ali, CEO of Nue Power, to our meeting this week. He shared his insights with us, covering everything from his childhood to his entrance into the business world. He shared with us some tips regarding how to make good first impressions with companies and how to succeed at entrepreneurship by incorporating sustainability efforts in the field of business just like he did.

Born in Saudi Arabia, and then later living in Pakistan, Ali came to the United States at the age of 4. He knew no English and was fully immersed in the American culture with no warning. A few years later he learned about the stock market by asking his father about it. He eventually learned how you can own tiny pieces of large businesses and instantly he was hooked. He was particularly interested in investing in Coca-Cola.  

Fast forward to 2017 and Jaffer Ali has not only created his own business but successfully created a network and filled such a unique niche. With Ali’s company, Nue Power, his main vision is to implement solar energy solutions within communities, especially within homes in the Pacific Northwest. He believes that in a few years solar panels will take over because of its efficiency. Solar power will soon become cheaper and more accessible than any other source of energy.

We learned that compared to other branches of business, entrepreneurship is much riskier and more competitive than other positions in business. Without a doubt, entrepreneurship has many benefits but also requires large risks, which is evident in what Ali did. Technology is advancing is such a quick rate that people are constantly trying to reinvent every process or item in hopes to save time, save money, reduce risk, and even increase status. Although this is true about technology, sustainability is another component that is becoming crucial in the field of business. Sustainable practices eventually lead to reliable products and a better corporate culture. Ali reminds us all about the importance of combining good business practices and sustainability in hope to create an eco-friendly future for all.

 

If you want to learn more about Jaffer Ali and Nue Power Solar, visit https://nuepowersolar.com/

Green Greeks Nominated for Husky Green Award

Green Greeks is proud to announce that we were recognized as a Husky Green Award Nominee this year for our exemplary leadership in the UW Community and our dedication to campus sustainability!

We are extremely appreciative of our leadership team, including Director Talia Haller, VP’s of Finance Mikey Callan and Shiv Chitre, VP of Operations Daniel Merz, VP of Fundraising and Events Alex Urasaki, and VP of Outreach Emma Conneely. We are also incredibly grateful for the numerous project leaders who do such awesome work in the community and produce successful results: Jane Green, Gavin Forster, Lia Carstens, Ben Weymiller, Natalie Logan, and Elizabeth Szorzad! Thank you all for your efforts.

And lastly, we are incredibly appreciative of the support we’ve received from the Greek Community as a whole, including Chapter Presidents, individual members, and the Greek governance organizations: IFC and Panhellenic.

Greek Community-wide Clean-Up NEXT SUNDAY

Calling all volunteers! Our annual Greek Community Clean Up is on Sunday, November 20th from 9:30 am – 12:00 pm. Bundle up and join us to clean the streets of the Greek community (we’re serving hot chocolate too)!

Where to Meet: 17th Ave Median

When: Starts at 9:30 am, Hot Chocolate & Prize will be awarded at 12 pm once people return to the median!

Last year, about 50 people came out to clean with us; this year, we want to UP that number! Plus, who doesn’t want a little friendly competition? We’re looking to clean starting from 16th Ave NE to 21st Ave NE, and up to NE 50th St. In order to pick up trash, recyclables, and compost, there will be bags, gloves, and trash grabbers that will make cleaning up the community much more convenient for everyone.

While this is a Greek Community Clean Up, this is not only for Greek members! We’re inviting everyone around the area – you, your family, friends, pets, bring them all! That being said, houses in the Greek Community that bring the most members will earn a little prize, so spread the word and be sure to RSVP here!

See you all there!

Any Questions? Call/text Green Greek Director Talia Haller at 360.791.0449.

The Start of a New Year

The University of Washington’s Green Greek Representative Program has HUGE plans for the ongoing 2016-2017 school year! To give you an inside scoop on what we have been up to so far, here is a spotlight on a couple of our committees within the Greek Green Reps team.

Our first spotlight group is Shining Solar. Project leader as well as director of Greek Green Reps, Talia Haller, has a plan to make the Greek Community a much more energy efficient and renewably-sourced area—as well as saving the community quite a lot of money (and therefore trees) in the process. Shinning Solar’s end goal is to eventually install solar panels to renewably-power chapter houses in the Greek Community. The group has investigated which houses are the most solar-panel-friendly, and is in the works of planning implementation and hopeful installation of this renewable energy source in the near future. In addition to being extremely forward thinking, Haller is a current member of the Sigma Kappa sorority and her spirit animal is a horse.

Our second spotlight group for this week is named Plant the Seed. Project leader Gavin Forster is a current junior in the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. Forster’s spirit animal is a badger—the mascot of the widely know Hogwarts House, Hufflepuff. Once upon the early 2000s, one of Hufflepuff’s most shinning members, Cedric Diggory, was selected to represent Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Triwizard Tournament. Much like Diggory, Planting the Seed is looking for chapter specific representation in the green-greek community.

The group’s project is to implement sustainability chairs, widely known as Green Teams or Green Chairs, in each chapter on campus. By implementing chapter specific chairs, Plant the Seed aims to have Green Reps and these chairs to work hand in hand to solidify change for a more sustainable future in our community. Gavin hopes to one day “plant the seed” all around campus, and have green chairs representing broad reaching campus positions such as IFC and Panhellenic.

These are just two of our countless projects and goals we are determined to achieve in hopes of bettering the greater UW community. Check back in soon for an update on our process, and if interested in becoming a Green Greek Representative, visit our homepage at http://students.washington.edu/ecoreps/greengreek/. It is our hope to spark and challenge the greater UW community—and eventually THE WORLD! —towards a much brighter, more sustainable future.

Determining Best Recycling & Compost Practices in the UW Greek Community


For my UW senior capstone, I collaborated with Seattle Public Utilities and the Community-Based Social Marketing approach to promote composting practices within the UW Greek Community.
Seattle is currently focusing on citywide composting and has enacted a composting ordinance that prohibits compostable food and paper from being disposed of in waste bins. Fines are being issued to property owners who have 10% or more of food waste in garbage containers as a way to provide financial incentive. space-needle-1509141_1280However, this law does not directly impact tenants in multifamily housing because they don’t have personal accountability for what goes into the communal waste bins. The University of Washington Greek housing is a type of multifamily student housing that currently faces similar issues with creating collective participation to compost. Without financial incentive, both settings are facing various psychological barriers to transitioning to composting.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-2-05-27-pmI worked with Green Greek Representative Program Director Tali Haller to connect with different Greek chapters to gather information on composting barriers through surveys, interviews, and quantitative measurements. After investigating different psychological barriers to composting, I suggested sustainable interventions for each house in my report titled “The Psychological Barriers to Compost in UW Greek Housing.” My research shows that barriers to composting stem from a lack of knowledge, an absence of motivation, unsupportive attitudes, or general inconvenience.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-2-57-46-pm
Barriers to Composting

I coordinated with multiple Greek Chapters, including Sigma Kappa, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and Psi Upsilon. Each house I coordinated with had members that were incredibly passionate and dedicated to making their home more sustainable. Their compost bins were all easily accessible with prompts to help remind and educate house members. However, their Green Greek Representative experienced a lot of push back. While 90% of the Greek members I interviewed generally knew what went into compost bins, only 37% were aware of the Seattle composting ordinance or the fines that were being issued to their house. Among these 4 barrier types, 67% of members showed a high barrier in regards to motivation and attitude toward composting.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-3-08-25-pmTogether, Tali and I have been working to overcome the “attitude” and “motivation” barriers by establishing social norms and creating a positive environment around composting. We’re also looking into ways to display the high-level of local community support for composting practices to encourage action!

Check out the Final Presentation, the 55-page Full Report, or Mercedes Project Site.


unnamed-1Mercedes Stroeve recently received her Bachelors of Arts in Community, Environment, and Planning (CEP) with a minor in Urban Design and Planning at the University of Washington. Her education focus was around mitigating climate change and creating collective action to improve circumstances. She has worked previously with UW Transportation Services where she promoted sustainable commute options and helped reduce UW commuter’s emissions. Currently she is working with the Mass Transit Now campaign to help pass the Sound Transit 3 initiative to help expand our existing system of light rail, commuter rail, and bus services in the Puget Sound Region.

Husky Neighborhood & the Green Greek Representative Group: Let’s Clean ‘Er Up TOGETHER!

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-1-37-03-pmIt’s no secret that waste is a big problem in some areas of the UW Greek Community, as well as other areas north of campus. This problem turns from big to BIG in the month before school starts (late August and early September) and the month after school ends (June). Students are on the move, transitioning between houses, apartments, dorms, etc. and in the process a lot of waste gets left behind or abandoned on the street as somebody else’s problem. What’s more, waste also piles up in disposal containers throughout the quarter, and cans and other trash gets haphazardly tossed into bushes.

Luckily, there are groups within the community who care a lot.

TDXHusky Neighborhood Interns is a University of Washington program intended to create a stronger, safer, and more enriching community for residents. As the Deputy Director for Regional & Community Relations Aaron Hoard explains, this group of dedicated interns puts into action ideas generated from the North of 45th Effort, a platform for residents – students and non-students alike – to discuss neighborhood issues, including health, safety, sustainability, etc. In the past, the Husky Neighborhood Interns have organized Neighborhood Safety Walks, clean-up events (such as their “Touch Up Truck Hill” event last April), and even transformed a vacant lot at the intersection of NE 47nd and 22nd NE into an asset for the community, a park!

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-1-21-52-pmOn August 31, September 7th, 26th, and 27th, the Husky Neighborhood Group in partnership with Seattle Public Utilities and UW’s Office of Regional & Community Relations will host their Husky Neighborhood Cleanup! They offer FREE recycling, donation, and disposal of unwanted items. In 2008, when the event was first started, collected material from the Spring Husky Neighborhood Cleanup event totaled over 12 tons! In 2015, the Spring event generated almost 6 tons of donated items, such as books, household items, small furniture, electronics, and sporting goods, comprising over 50% of materials collected.

This year, a new player’s getting involved: the Green Greek Representative Program (GGRP), a 70+ group of representatives from almost all 50 campus chapters who are dedicated to making the Greek Community a more sustainable place. While the group will heavily promote the August & September event, they are actively planning and hoping to collaborate with the Husky Neighborhood Group on a mid-quarter Neighborhood Cleanup Event for late November.

Community Clean-Up

In November 2015, the GGRP was actively involved in the event and got 18+ chapters to participate. However, this year they want to take a bigger role in planning the event and have participation from all 50 chapters. “It’s so important to keep our community clean,” said Green Greek Director Talia Haller. “But it’s almost equally important to foster positive community interactions between the Greek Community, other students, and other residents.”

TaliGroupBoth groups are excited about the opportunity to work together. “We’re always looking for opportunities to work with students, especially Greek students because of the network, resources, and leadership their community can provide,” said Deputy Director Aaron Hoard, who manages the Husky Neighborhood Interns.

 

Originally Published on the UW Sustainability Blog, In Our Nature