Letter from the Director: Sasha Gordon

Hi everyone! I am so overjoyed to be your new Director, so I’d like to let you know a little bit about me!

27157645_898028213705365_2130688793_nAs a student, I am a Freshman majoring in Business Administration, a member of Sigma Kappa, and extremely interested in Political Science, French, and Art History. Before I came to the UW, I lived in Orinda in the San Francisco East Bay. I knew that I wanted to expand my horizons, so I came here to experience a truly new and different terrain, and I am so glad that I did! I have been participating in environmental clubs since 6th grade, and have known for a long time that I wanted to bring it into my life on a much deeper level, and spread it to others at the same time. I heard about Green Greeks during Formal Fall Recruitment, and sought it out before I even knew where I’d end up. Very quickly, I became known around Sigma Kappa for sounding a lot like our previous Director, Talia Haller. Every time I brought up my interests, I was told that I needed to meet her. On the last day of Recruitment, she and I got matched together, and we slowly realized that we had both heard about the other before. Talia knew how passionate I was about the environment since she first met me, so when it came time to find a new Director, she asked me, and I leaped at the opportunity. The rest, of course, is history!

Going forward, my vision for Green Greeks is to start being more implementation-oriented and boots-on-the-ground. I plan to lead the group to develop more methods of bringing environmental options to the table. Our speakers will be more diverse in their careers, backgrounds, and lifestyles. This year, we will increase our membership and participation, and expand our influence beyond the chapters, into the larger UW and Seattle community. Finally, I plan to make the group more dynamic and social, and less cut and dry.

I look forward to this year and all the amazing things we’re going to do together!27145060_898028853705301_1040336120_o

Student Reflection: Waste Management and Pi Beta Phi by Ava Trindeva

picture1Serving in the Green Greek team, I am a part of the Waste Management Team. It had never occurred to me to consider not only the amount of trash Greek systems must produce, but more importantly, the amount of waste that is not properly disposed of. Our amount of trash can be managed by properly sorting through our waste, thus decreasing our trash with the elimination of things that can be recycled or composted. During our first meeting, I learned that Seattle provides financial incentive for communities to participate in sorting their waste. Recycling is COMPLETELY FREE and compost bin pick-ups cost around $11 per bin. In comparison, the $300 for a trash bin per week. The main problem within Greek communities lies within contamination of waste, which can also lead to several fines. Not only is that damaging to the environment, it also results in large bills each chapter needs to pay when these funds could be reallocated for something more beneficial. Greek chapters struggle with properly sorting their waste, which is truly a trivial matter with substantial consequences. Not only would there be less trash being thrown away and more matter being reused in some way – whether recycled or composted – it would also save money by spreading out the waste properly to compost and recycling bins, away from trash. Utility bills further emphasized the effect of contaminated bins, pointing to potential hundreds of dollars, per house, per month being virtually wasted.

 

As a goal for my personal chapter, Pi Beta Phi, I was shocked during our waste audit of how many our own containers were contaminated. As a preliminary step, I set up a chapter presentation during which I educated members and let them know of what I intended to do to get us closer to a resolution. Everyone can properly dispose of their trash, to promote that, I reorganized bins throughout my house so that every trash been was accompanied by a compost or recycling bin depending on the room. In the study basement, for instance, I implemented more recycling bins because people were more likely to be throwing away papers there. Bathrooms had a trash and a compost for paper towels. The kitchen, where I noticed the most waste, I set up all threebins next to each other with up signage above each to remind members what waste was appropriate for each bin. Improving waste contamination was not enough. I wanted to decrease the trash we had, overall. I spoke with our house mom, consulted our budget and organized with our delivery to switch to eco-utensils. Our previous utensils were plastic that was neither recyclable or compostable. Seeing this as excessive waste, our house has now transitioned to utensils that are compostable, lessening our trash that pollutes the world.picture2

Speaker Highlight: JR Fulton and a History of UW Sustainability

At our most recent meeting, the Green Greeks got to listen to an experienced speaker, JR Fulton, about his role in keeping the UW campus sustainable. He has been passionate about sustainable buildings as soon as he found out that without proper information and execution, buildings can be incredibly detrimental to the environment. He has worked with Housing and Food services for quite some time as an architect and previously spent time living in an Eco Village in Scotland. Thanks to JR’s presentation, we were able to learn a lot from him about sustainability from an operational perspective.

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To construct a sustainable building, it’s vital to understand the concept of resiliency. The building need to be able to respond to the climate and be future-proofed to be able to anticipate change that could challenge the design of said building. Sustainable buildings also need to have a high-performance ranking; they must be energy efficient, healthy, comfortable, cost effective to operate, and durable.

 

There is a sustainable building standard called LEED, which stands for Leadership Energy and Environmental Design. It is run by the US Green Standards Board. The University of Washington has 36 LEED accredited buildings on campus, which is something to be proud of! Mercer Court even has a rainwater system used for laundry; domestic water is not used at all when the system is working properly. There is always room for improvement, and our campus si already off to an amazing start.

 

So, how does one keep a building both accessible and efficient? Effective engineering. For example, it’s not necessary to strictly limit hot water use, as long as the water heaters are efficient. It is the little details like this that increase the longevity of these buildings and inspire further innovation.

 

The trick, as JR explains, is to use every sustainable resource available.

 

These techniques are being implemented on campus, as we speak, in the North Campus housing construction

 

As far as the future goes, Fulton believes society will move towards eco districts, which entails an entire neighborhood that is hooked together energy-wise. The UW campus is an ideal place for this sort of system.

 

Thank you JR Fulton, we are so thankful to have you working towards a better future here on campus.

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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!

Cornell & UW Work Together to Perpetuate Sustainability in their Greek Communities

Cornell and the University of Washington are both national leaders for sustainability movements on college campuses. In fact, they both made The Princeton Review’s 2017 Green College Honor Roll, in which schools must receive a score of 99 (the highest possible score) in a Green Rating tally.

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University of Washington

Now, the two prestigious Universities are embarking on a joint sustainability effort, one that involves collaboration between their thriving Greek Communities. The University of Washington’s Green Greek Representative Program, led by the Director Talia Haller, and Cornell’s Greeks Go Green Program, led by President Emily Parish, plan to work together to create a sustainability rating system for Greek Chapters. They hope to use this rating system to create a baseline for chapters, help them target areas for improvement, and eventually improve the overall sustainability of Chapters.

However, the two programs aren’t stopping at individual chapter improvements. Thinking bigger, they want to use the rating system as a way to facilitate sustainability competitions between the two Greek Communities in the future, essentially promoting cross-nation sustainability collaboration and (friendly) competition.

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Green Greek Director Talia Haller

Only in the beginning stages, this project aims to bring the two schools together around sustainability, set the bar high for other Greek Sustainability Programs, and promote greater collaboration between Greek Communities in general. “We’re very excited about working with Cornell’s Greeks Go Green Program,” said UW Green Greek Director Talia Haller. “We see collaboration as the key to success!”