Nowadays, a lot more people are changing their lifestyle to be more environmentally friendly such as turning off lights when you’re not using them or using a refillable water bottle. What most of us don’t think about is the major ways your organization on campus (whether it’s a club or sorority) is impacting the environment. While you may feel like your small efforts won’t make a difference, if your whole organization makes a commitment to these small changes it will make a big difference!
In this article, I am specifically talking about environmental sustainability. Sustainability is the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
- Bottle Collection
My sorority started doing a monthly bottle collection as a part of fundraising. This is not only a great way to recycle all of the plastic bottles your members use anyway, but raises money for your organization as well! All you have to do is collect the bottles at one of your meetings and then bring them to local bottle deposits, normally located at your nearby grocery stores. Then they will give you cash for your bottles!
- Recycle Plastic Bags
If you are anything like my house, you probably have a giant stash of plastic grocery bags that you rarely ever use. Although we all know that we should be switching to reusable canvas grocery bags, it is natural to get a stash of plastic bags after your improptu Target run. I recently found out there are places where you can bring all of your plastic bags to safely be recycled! Your club can now reduce their affect on the earth by gathering everyone’s extra plastic bags and having 1 or 2 members go and recycle them at nearby drop-offs. These can often be found at stores like Target, Walmart, and Kohl’s.
- Clothing Swap
Fast fashion is one of the most wasteful and harmful industries which is why sustainable clothing sites where you can swap clothes, such as ThredUp, have become so popular. But your organization can become more sustainable by doing your own clothing swap! Your members probably have tons of clothing items that they grew out of or they just don’t wear often. Organize a clothing swap to allow each other to pick from each others unwanted clothes! This saves money for everyone and is good for the environment. You can also include old halloween/ party costumes and props so they don’t get thrown in the trash and can be reused by new members.
- Food Share
At my house, food gets thrown out so often because it goes bad before people get to eat it all or someone doesn’t want it. There is a major hunger issue in the world, and food waste contributes to the problem. Although this may be difficult to organize with your organization, it would be so sustainable (and save money on food for everyone) if people started to bring their uneaten or unwanted food to club meetings for another member to take. If any food is unopened, it can be donated to a local food shelter. This idea of a “community pantry” is becoming more and more popular.
- Reuse Paper for Votes
If you’re anything like my sorority, we use paper at almost every meeting. We write sisterhood notes on pieces of paper as well as run elections by writing our votes on pieces of paper. Instead of wasting and then throwing out new paper, your club should be using the back of paper from class that you don’t need anymore.
- Download Organization Apps
To avoid using paper, your organization should look into more apps to help organize your calendar and take polls such as position elections. Since everyone has access to their phones during meetings, this is such an efficient way to take votes and organize everything. My organization currently uses OurHouse, which is a calendar, attendance system, group chat, and polls all in one. I also suggest using Google Drive to organize documents, sign-ups, or meeting minutes in so people don’t have to print out sign-ups or take physical notes at meetings.
- Recycle Notebooks
Notebooks often get thrown out at the end of the semester with so many extra pages attached and without being properly recycled. At the end of the semester or year, your organization could bring all of their unwanted notebooks to a meeting, save the unused paper, and properly recycle all of the notebooks together!
- Reuse Crafts and Canvases
Materials such as paper, wood, and canvas are difficult to recycle properly and using a lot of earth’s resources. Especially if you’re in a sorority or fraternity, “crafts” (or paintings) are a big part of what you do when taking a little or celebrating something. But a lot of these crafts end up unused in a box. You can easily encourage your organization to paint over old crafts and reuse the canvases. This would not only be beneficial to the environment, but also save money on canvases for your members!
Although this one may seem obvious, sharing rides or carpooling is a great way to reduce the air pollutants and fossil fuels you are using per person. Going to events or community services activities is a big part of any organization. You can encourage your club to start organizing ride shares more often to reduce members’ carbon footprints.
- Turn Off The Lights
An easy way to save energy is by turning off the lights in an unused room. Remind your members to all work together to turn off the lights after you leave a room for an event, even if it’s on campus. If your meetings or events take place during the daytime, you can also try to make it a habit to turn off the lights in the room when you’re in there.
Although it may hard to implement all of these practices in to your organization, small steps by a large group can make a big difference! I encourage you to bring at least one or two of these suggestions to your club to start becoming more environmentally sustainable!