Speaker Highlight: Advice from Candi Mabee, A Sustainability-Loving House Director

A former professional opera singer, house director, and a passion for sustainability? What’s not to love about Candi Mabee, who blessed the Green Greek Representative Program with her presence at our meeting this week. We learned a lot from her experience as a sustainability-loving house director, and are very thankful to have her here in the Greek Community at UW.
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Candi Mabee, the house director at Phi Mu, is quite an inspiration to us all. In her single year working with Phi Mu, she has driven Phi Mu to the highest standard of sustainability. She understands a green lifestyle as the right thing to do for the future and our Earth. In the past as a house director she has focused on the zero waste initiative, meaning utilizing compost and recycle systems to save money and protect the earth from methane gas release.

 

In order to ease the process of ensuring everyone in the chapter is doing their part, Candi recommends getting the kitchen staff on board, having the system set up so everything is easy and ready to go, accountability of individual members, and to prioritize communication about what goes where. This includes signage, frequent social media posts, and educational programs at chapter meetings. In regard to talking to house moms/directors about sustainability practices, Candi suggests coming prepared with research on cost benefits and how your house is doing, understanding the motivations of the house director, and working with them to find a solution. The key is constant communication.

 

Candi also recommends shopping at wholesale retail centers, such as the Costco on Aurora, for chapter necessities. Specifically, the Costco business center as they have the necessary compostable utensils and mealtime staples for an extremely reasonable price, as seen below:

Sustainable item Cost
12oz world centic cold cups $15.99 for 200 units
12oz cold cup lids $7.79 for 200 units
Clamshell (late plates boxes) $18.59 for 100 units
9″ plate $19.99 for 250 units
12 oz world centric hot cup $12.69 for 200 units
12 oz hot cup $16.09 for 200 units

Following Candi’s presentation, the Green Greeks had the opportunity to explore our own case studies and apply the tactics and tools Candi presented to  us to see the applicability of her experience and prepare for real life situations.

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Thank you Candi for those helpful hints. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed and we appreciate your impact here on campus!

Exec Spotlight: Daniel Merz

Everyone involved in the Green Greek Representative Program is passionate about sustainable practices, but having strong leadership like Daniel can help everyone reach that next level. We are proud to highlight Daniel Merz in our Executive spotlight this week!
Daniel Merz, our VP of Operations, has always had a knack for loving the environment. “I’ve always been very passionate about the environment, having had recycling and compost programs in all my previous schools. My passion definitely was born there.”

Sustainability can be a complex process that requires planning ahead and knowing what your own personal habits are. “On a grander scheme I have always been very efficiency oriented. Throughout my life I’ve always tried to streamline my daily practices and being sustainable naturally fit in. Whether that was turning off lights when I could, using less water when I can, and wasting right, it’s always fit into my way of living.”

 

Thinking of sustainability as simply being efficient with resources is a great way to think about it.

 

As for what his job as VP of Operations entails, he manages all the project groups, consults them in difficult situations, analyzes their performance, and guides them to their goals and club goals. A very important role!

 

When asked about how the Green Greek Representative Program has helped him to better his own environmental space, he proudly responded, “Green Greeks has given me an increased space to make changes not only to my environment to my communities. Professionally, I am able to grow as a leader, collaborating with both fellow students but sustainable professionals in Seattle Public Utilities and other environmental organizations, we can make this world a better place that lasts a lot longer for the human race. We just have to unify.”

 

Thank you, Daniel for all your hard work. We appreciate your leadership here at Green Greeks!dsc_0007

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.

Green Greeks Throw Pizza Fundraiser Spread Awareness on Sustainability Practices Throughout the Greek System

Coming to you live, on April 20th, catch your favorite Green Greeks for a Pizza Extravaganza you won’t want to miss! Catch us on the 17th Ave Median between Beta Theta Pi and Alpha Epsilon Phi. Not only do you get the chance to help your very own community improve our sustainability, but there is plenty of opportunities to enjoy yourself in the process.

Greek Members Eat Pizza & Pledge GreenWe’ll be serving up pizzas from 12pm to 4pm, $2 a slice and $3 for two slices. Pizza options include Cheese, Pepperoni, and Hawaiian. Plus, no extravaganza would be complete without activities. We’ll have a water pong trivia game where you test your knowledge on sustainability and learn some cool information in the process. Additionally, you’ll find the classic corn-hole game that no outdoor event is complete without, and you can toss a frisbee into a compost bin and see how easy it is to compost in your everyday life. If simply playing games isn’t enough for you, winners get a BOGO free pizza card, courtesy of Pagliacci Pizza!

After playing games all afternoon and learning about ways you can help our Greek community become more sustainable and eco-friendly, we’ll have the opportunity for you to take the Green Pledge and become a part of our cause. Your pledge will become a part of our photo booth background where there will be plenty of props for you and your friends to pose with! Post your pictures on social media and use the tag #UWGreenGreeks to help spread the word. The best way to help your community is to get involved, so make your 4/20 productive and join us for pizza and a good time, we can’t wait to see everyone there!

 

Green Greeks Turns Trash into Cash… Savings!

During Winter Quarter 2017, the Green Greek Representative Program has seven exciting projects, many of which are primed for success! A few projects are continuations from Fall Quarter 2016, including the Waste Right Project which is working to reduce and divert waste in the Greek Community.

 

The Comprehensive “Waste Solutions Package”

But they’re not working alone! In fact, the Waste Project Team has been working with a team of experts from local companies and utilities to roll out a comprehensive, money-saving “Waste Solutions Package” for Chapters. The list of experts involved includes Commercial Recycling & Composting Program Manager Pat Kaufman, Director of Solid Waste Compliance at Seattle Public Utilities Sally Hulsman, Waste Zero Specialist at Recology Elizabeth Szorad, and Solid Waste Field Inspector Brenda King. So far, four chapters have acted as case studies for implementing and making the business case for waste solutions: Alpha Chi Omega, Chi Omega, Delta Chi, and Sigma Kappa. On Tuesday, January 24th, the Green Greek Representatives, led by the utility experts, did a waste audit of these chapters and four others to learn more about how to implement a Waste Solutions package within more chapters.

January 24th Waste Audit

Essentially, the waste management plan is a three-part approach to improving a chapter’s waste habits:

Phase One:

First, the Green Greek Representative will create a Waste Solutions Plan for their chapter. This entails creating a strategy for the implementation of recycling, composting, and waste disposal bins for all main areas, as well as acquiring the respective bags that will be needed for the new bins (i.e. green compostable bags and clear recycling bags), explanatory signage, and transitioning to sustainable materials (utensils, to-go containers, paper towels) so that most, if not all, household materials can be recycled or composted rather than thrown in the trash. In some cases, it might also include a plan for smaller recycling and composting containers for individual rooms to encourage sorting and stop chapter members from simply taking all the garbage they accumulate in their room and dumping it into a main trash bin. The plan will include the estimated costs and sourcing options for all necessary supplies, as well as a timeline.

Phase Two:

While the Waste Solutions Plan is being developed, the Representative will work with a Solid Waste Field Inspector from Seattle Public Utilities to set up the best pick-up schedule. For example, instead of getting the trash picked up Monday through Friday, the chapter may be able to have the trash picked up only two days a week by adding on two additional recycling pickups (which are free). This can reduce waste costs significantly. One fraternity’s current service levels was as follows: two 2-yd garbage dumpster pickups on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, which cost $1848.48 per month (2 Dumpsters x 3 pick-ups per week x $308.08 monthly cost of 1x per week pick-up) and one 2-yd recycling dumpster with one pickup, which was free. The recommended version was one 2-yd dumpster with four pickups per week at a new cost of only $1232.32 per month (1 Dumpster x 4 pick-ups per week x $308.08) and the one -yd recycling dumpster picked up three times per week (still free). The total yearly savings would be more than $7,100. On top of that, the Chapter has the potential to eliminate enormous fines it has been receiving for not recycling/composting correctly and for having waste outside of the specified bins, which totaled more than $485 from September to December 2016.

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Phase Three:

As the Waste Solutions Plan and new pickup schedule is implemented, the Representative must focus on creating an educated and respectful culture around the waste reduction efforts. This includes educating the Chapter on best waste practices through one or more Chapter presentations, putting up signs and reminding people on Facebook, and making the business case for waste reduction and diversion very clear.

The Big Gr$$n Barrier: Getting Around Up-front Capital Costs

Trash to Cash: Innovative Finance Mechanisms to expedite Waste Solutions roll out
Trash Cash: Innovative Finance Mechanisms to expedite Waste Solutions roll out

One of the biggest impediments to implementing a Waste Solutions package is the cost of the bins (one recycling slim jim is about $30, multiply that by 10, and you’re looking at $300 for recycling bins alone). This is of special concern because many Representatives wanting to make the changes fear that their chapters might not even use the bins and the investment would be wasted. In order to help Representatives pay the upfront costs of implementing a waste solutions plan, the Green Greek Finance team is working to create a low-risk loan system in which Chapters would receive and implement a full waste solutions package (including bins, signage, bags, sustainable kitchen materials, and a chapter education presentation) at a subsidized price, which would then be paid out of the savings the chapter sees in their waste utility bill over a specified time period.

Given that one fraternity expects to save over $7,500 in one year from the implementation of their waste solution package, whose upfront cost was $830, the return on investment is unquestionable. In fact, the net present value of such an investment (assuming a relatively high discount rate of 10%) is over $27,000 within 5 years. Now, that’s real savings.