Universities are buzzing with young adults passionate about protecting the planet, and student environmental organizations direct all that energy into action.
They launch recycling initiatives and run organic farms. Or they’re out and about among peers, touting such eco-friendly practices as buying local, preparing vegan dishes and installing water-saving devices on faucets.
Student projects promoting sustainability are usually quite effective because they’re fueled by young adults who are enthusiastic, persistent and innovative, according to Talia Haller, director and founder the Green Greek Representative Program at the University of Washington in Seattle.
“Students are very hardworking,” Haller says. “We are so excited to apply what we’re learning to real-world experience. It poises us for success in a lot of ways.”
The Green Greek Program is a network of representatives from sororities and fraternities at UW who devise and implement planet-friendly practices in their houses.
While pitching their eco-friendly ideas, Green Greek reps emphasize financial impact as well as environmental benefits, Haller says. Decision-makers tend to be more motivated to launch a fresh sustainability program if there are monetary incentives. A Green Greek project at a UW fraternity, for example, involved equipping the house with several strategically placed recycling and composting bins, and switching to products that support the effort, such as disposable utensils that are composted instead of tossed into the trash. A robust emphasis on composting and recycling reduces the amount of garbage, which saves the fraternity money on pick-up fees, Haller explains.
Other projects led by Green Greek reps include a fraternity installing water-saving aerators on sink and shower faucets, and a sorority agreeing to ban personal mini refrigerators, which also offered safety benefits to the building.
Students at various universities, including Washington University in St. Louis, run their own farms, often with an…