Wake Forest University

Greeks Go Green - Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest

Greeks Go Green

Greeks Go Green

The mission of Greeks Go Green, founded in the spring of 2011, is to involve members of the Wake Forest Greek Community in sustainability initiatives on campus.  All eight Panhellenic Conference sorority chapters at Wake Forest have Greeks Go Green representatives.

Arbor Day & Campus Beautification Celebration

April 10th, 2015

Celebrate Arbor Day on Thursday, April 16th from 4:00-6:00pm. The event kicks off with a tree planting ceremony behind Huffman Residence Hall at 4:00pm.

Following the ceremony, volunteers will split into groups to beautify the campus. All participants will enjoy a cookout featuring Grayson Natural grassfed burgers. Registration is encouraged, but not required.

This event is sponsored by Greeks Go Green, Landscaping Services, and WFU Residence Life & Housing.

Sorority T-Shirts Get a Makeover

March 20th, 2015
ggg shirts

The t-shirts from three of the organizations: Kappa Beta Gamma, Chi Omega, and Kappa Delta.

Sororities at Wake Forest University are notorious for the number of shirts that bear their letters. Each spring, hundreds of underclass women join Greek organizations and, as part of a campus wide tradition, are gifted previous semesters’ t-shirts. In a way, this “passing down” of t-shirts can be viewed as a sustainable ritual. On the other hand, it does not quell the flow of ordering among these groups.

The global impact of the perpetual purchasing of t-shirts is often lost on the women who are placing the orders. The average conventional cotton t-shirt requires about 700 gallons of water and a half pound of pesticide and herbicide for production. Between the growing, manufacturing, and transporting processes, each shirt is also responsible for a significant amount of energy use.

Last fall, Greeks Go Green, a network of peer-to-peer educators for sustainability, started an initiative to increase conscious consumerism throughout the Greek community at Wake Forest. The effort encourages individuals to incorporate measures of environmental and social impacts into purchasing decisions.  Greeks Go Green interns Bridget Keeler (’15) and Emily Pence (’15) identified purchasing among Greek organizations as a primary contributor to members’ ecological footprints.  They worked to teach representatives of each organization how to identify the ecological and social impacts of their purchases so that they could guide their organizations.

At the end of the annual January sorority recruitment period, each chapter gives out new t-shirts to their members. This equates to roughly 1,400 t-shirts distributed in a single day. The impact of the t-shirts distributed on bid day at Wake Forest equates to about 980,000 gallons of water used and 700 pounds of herbicides/pesticides used. The effects of the excessive use of water and herbicides for these shirts are enormously detrimental to the global environment.

Cotton is a fragile and resource intensive crop, and while there is no simple solution to reducing the excessive amount of water and chemicals required to produce these shirts, there are ways to lessen the environmental impacts of an individual cotton t-shirt. In the fall of 2014, the Greeks Go Green representatives presented information to their chapters on ways to order t-shirts in (un)conventional ways—ways that would be less environmentally resource intensive and that may have beneficial financial impacts in the regional economy. Options included buying locally sewn and printed shirts, shirts made from regionally and/or organically grown cotton, as well as garments printed with water-based dyes. The interns suggested that the sororities on campus aim to use organic cotton or recycled fabric t-shirts as a minimum baseline for the shirts they would be ordering for the January 12th bid day.

Four of the sororities chose to participate in the initiative, adding up to approximately 732 t-shirts. These sororities were Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Kappa Beta Gamma, and Kappa Delta. Their purchases included garments from Port and Company, Royal Apparel, and Alternative Earth’s environmentally preferable lines.

The campaign aims to support a growing trend of environmentally and socially preferable purchasing among Greek organizations throughout the spring of 2015, with an ongoing push to reduce the volume of purchasing overall.

Bridget Keeler (’15) and Emily Pence (’15), Greeks Go Green Interns

Call for 2015 Sustainability Interns

March 17th, 2015

sustainabilityinternAre you a student interested in making a difference and gaining professional development experience? The following paid internships are available to all Wake Forest University students for fall 2015. In order to apply, please fill out this form. Unless otherwise noted, these internships are with the Office of Sustainability. Please note, interns are required to attend an on-campus sustainability orientation August 19th – 21st.

Internship applications are due by Friday, April 10th at 5:00pm.

Campus Garden 
The intern will collaborate with expert garden mentors, faculty, staff, student, and community volunteers to manage the campus garden across from Spry Soccer Stadium on Polo Road. Management entails all aspects of growing seasonally appropriate crops including, but not limited to, developing and maintaining rotation and cover cropping plans, starting and transplanting crops, watering, mulching, and composting food/yard waste.  The intern will coordinate garden volunteer opportunities, explore service learning possibilities with interested faculty, and organize major events in the campus garden. The successful candidate will be enthusiastic, outgoing, and will have strong organizational skills. Experience with medium-scale community gardening is strongly preferred.

Greeks Go Green 
The intern will co-lead the Greeks Go Green initiative by holding weekly meetings with established Greeks Go Green representatives and organizing monthly presentations and events throughout the semester. The intern must be an active member of a recognized Greek organization on campus. Excellent leadership and organizational skills are required.

ARAMARK – Sustainability in Dining 
Learn more about the responsibilities of the Sustainability in Dining intern on ARAMARK’s website.

Facilities & Campus Services – Energy Management

The intern will assist Facilities and Campus Services with communications, energy competitions, monitoring energy usage on the campus through computer programs and by physically walking around the campus, occasionally during late hours. Other responsibilities include gathering, compiling, and analyzing data from various WFU departments, coordinating with the Office of Sustainability and attending meetings as necessary. The intern must have experience using Excel and a passion for reducing energy usage.

Propose a Unique Internship
Have a great idea for an internship, but don’t see it on our list? Feel free to submit a unique internship proposal. We are always looking for new, innovative ways to promote sustainability on campus. Your proposal should include an articulation of the need for the proposed project and the landscape of issues surrounding the project.

Fourth Annual Arbor Day Celebration

May 27th, 2014

022Students and staff circled around a vibrant Japanese Maple tree at Student Apartments on April 24th to celebrate Arbor Day. Landscaping Services, Residence Life and Housing, and the Office of Sustainability co-hosted the ceremony in conjunction with a Campus Beautification Day celebration that was organized by Greeks Go Green interns.

University Arborist Jim Mussetter,  presented the ceremonial tree, a cultivar known as Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’ or “Lion’s Head.” Mussetter described that this specific cultivar was chosen for its slow growth and striking fall foliage of gold and crimson tones. As the first ‘shishigashira’ introduced to campus, the tree will be a seasonal focal point in the housing courtyard for decades to come.  University Chaplain Tim Auman led a poetry reading before guests in attendance planted the tree.

Immediately following the ceremony, students divided into groups, led by Greeks Go Green representatives, to pick up litter across campus as part of the Campus Beautification Day celebration. From small tools to cigarette butts, students collected litter of all shapes and sizes in an effort to Keep the Forest Green. Participants were recognized for their contributions: the first-year class turned out in the highest numbers as did brothers from Alpha Sigma Phi. After the clean-up, students were rewarded with at a cookout, including grass-fed burgers made from Grayson Natural beef, which was generously co-sponsored by Residence Life and Housing, Outdoor Programs, and Landscaping Services.

The fourth annual Arbor Day ceremony and the inaugural Campus Beautification Day service event exemplify Wake Forest University’s commitment to our Tree Campus USA designation by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Fall 2014 Internships in Sustainability

April 2nd, 2014

Aramark_Meeting_1_30_14Are you a student interested in making a difference? The following paid internships are available to Wake Forest students for fall 2014. In order to apply, please fill out this form. Applications are due by Thursday, April 17th at 5pm.  Unless otherwise noted, these internships are with the Office of Sustainability.

Campus Garden 
The intern will collaborate with faculty, staff, and student volunteers to manage the campus garden at 1141 Polo Road. The intern will coordinate garden volunteer opportunities, explore service learning possibilities with interested faculty and organize major events in the campus garden. The successful candidate will be enthusiastic, outgoing, and will have strong organizational skills. Experience with medium-scale community gardening is strongly preferred.

Communications and Outreach 
The intern will work with staff in the Office of Sustainability to develop content for the campus sustainability website including, but not limited to, news stories, calendar contributions, and social media posts. The intern will contribute to the production of a monthly electronic newsletter, based on the news stories written for the website.  Strong writing skills required, sustainability literacy preferred.  Applications from both graduate and undergraduate students will be accepted.  In addition to the application form, please submit two news-writing samples.

Gameday Recycling 
During the fall semester, the intern will recruit for and manage a volunteer game day recycling program for the home football season. Volunteers recruited for the effort will interface with fans, work with the athletic department to manage demand for recycling collection, prepare communication materials for the program, and promote the program to tailgating fans. This intern must be available to work on the program during the summer months, but does not have to be physically located on campus until the fall.

Greeks Go Green 
The intern will lead the Greeks Go Green initiative by holding weekly meetings with established Greeks Go Green representatives and organizing monthly presentations and events throughout the semester. The intern must be an active member of a registered Greek organization on campus. Excellent leadership and organizational skills are required. Familiarity with and knowledge of Prezi is a plus.

Photography 
The intern will attend and photograph Office of Sustainability events and maintain an active photostream on the office Flickr account. Events will range from high profile speakers to weekly community engagement events. Attendance at weekly intern meetings is required. The intern must have his or her own photography equipment and some photo editing skills. Familiarity with Flickr is a plus.

ARAMARK – Sustainability in Dining 
View the responsibilities of the Sustainability in Dining Intern.

 

Student Sustainability Collaboration

February 24th, 2014

The Student Sustainability Group network kicked off the spring semester with a networking meeting to discuss opportunities for cross-campus collaboration. Representatives of student groups that support sustainability at WFU, including EcoTheo, Net Impact, the Environmental Law Society, Campus Garden, Greeks Go Green, Outdoor Pursuits, SEAC, and VSC gathered to discuss semester activities.

The network meeting provided an opportunity to explore future collaborations and share events planned for the semester. Sarah Millsaps (’16) attended the meeting on behalf of Outdoor Pursuits (OP). OP recently introduced events that engage students on campus through activities like Smores Outdoors. Millsaps found the event particularly helpful: “Getting together with other leaders and collaborating in ways to promote sustainability on campus allows us to better know the community and thus better serve it.”

Tori Erb (’14) and Jake Teitelbaum (’16) attended on behalf of the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC). The two discussed SEAC’s plans to host an Earth Hour event in late March. Greeks Go Green representatives Emily Pence (’15) and Stewart Rickert (’16) valued the support they received from the network in planning a campus-wide beautification day.

For the three graduate organizations who attended — the Environmental Law Society, Net Impact, and EcoTheo — the event was an opportunity to engage with undergraduates and students outside of their respective schools. Ryan Lesley (’06, MBA ’14), co-president of Wake Forest’s chapter of the MBA organization Net Impact, shared information about upcoming speakers and projects.

The Office of Sustainability serves as a convener of these organizations; the semi-annual Student Sustainability Group meeting helps individual organizations increase their reach across campus by allowing students with similar goals to identify opportunities to collaborate.

To get involved in the Sustainability Group network or to learn more about upcoming events, stay connected to the Office of Sustainability through Facebook and Twitter and sign up for weekly sustainability updates on our homepage.

By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator

Are You a Champion?

October 30th, 2013

Have you or are you preparing to facilitate a change to a sustainable practice on campus? Have you implemented a new sustainability initiative in your area? If so, you might be a winner!

This coming April, Wake Forest will host our inaugural Champions of Change award ceremony.

In March, we will accept nominations for awards that honor sustainability through:

  • resource conservation (energy, water, or waste reduction),
  • academics (teaching, research, engaged learning),
  • service and social action, and
  • bright ideas (innovative ideas that have been or could be implemented).

We look forward to hearing about the work of all the inspiring change agents across campus.

Where are they now: Allie Gruber

June 14th, 2013
Photo courtesy of Allie Gruber

Photo courtesy of Allie Gruber

Allie Gruber (’13) knew she had a vague interest in sustainability when she boarded a plane bound for Peru in early June, following her sophomore year at Wake Forest University.  She had no idea, however, that upon her return she would dedicate the remainder of her undergraduate career to learning about and advocating for the natural world.  Her impressive list of sustainability credentials includes undergraduate research, two internships, and, perhaps most impressively, a tireless, personal peer outreach campaign.

Allie made her pivotal trip to the Amazon through the Wake Forest Tropical Diversity Program, a month-long study abroad opportunity offered by the biology department.  The field program offers an in-depth exploration of biodiversity, which introduces students to the complex ecosystems of the tropics through hands-on learning.  Allie remembers her study abroad experience in vivid detail, from her flight into Lima where the class studied the coast’s unique desert ecosystem to her second flight across the mountain range into Cuzco where she and her peers fought altitude sickness before taking a nine hour hike into the amazon basin.  She recalls the hundreds of native hummingbird species her professors asked her to look out for on bird watching expeditions and well recalls the Manu research station, where she and her research partners, Chris Bobbitt (’12) and Brad Shugoll (’13) conducted original research.

This program, which highlights both the beauty and the vulnerability of some of the world’s last undeveloped landscapes “really turned me towards sustainability,” explains Allie.   However, she emphasizes that her transformation wasn’t merely about the setting. Being in Peru helped, she explains, but “it was really the professors.”  In particular, Dr. Miles Silman, Director of the Center for Energy, Environment, Sustainability, inspired Allie’s budding environmental interests.  She says “he is so charismatic, it is contagious.  He really got me excited about the environment.”

Dr. Silman mentored Allie as she continued to explore sustainability through the lens of the life sciences.  Under his direction, she and fellow students conducted a feasibility analysis for conch farming as a means of economic development and collected relevant research on coral reefs for one of his courses.  Allie finished her studies a semester early, and upon graduating last fall, she spent what would have been the spring semester of her senior year assisting Dr. Silman with the early phases of a biochar research project.  Biochar is an organic fertilizer that increases the productivity of the soil while sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.  The material, essentially charcoal, forms through pyrolysis, a high-heat anaerobic conversion process.   As Allie explains, biochar offers the dual advantage of being both “an organic alternative [to conventional fertilizer] and helping with the fight against global climate change.”

Allie has used what she learned from Dr. Silman in the classroom and the laboratory to explain relevant issues to her friends and to convince them to adopt sustainable behaviors.  Though she modestly deems herself “the token tree-hugger of the group,” she has seen results from her consistent, positive persuasion. “I get texts all the time, like ‘I refilled my reusable water bottle at the water bottle-refilling station, it’s so cool!’ I tell them, yeah it is cool! Do it every day.”

Allie’s informal peer outreach was usually one-on-one, but last fall Allie used her position as the membership development chair for her sorority Delta Delta Delta to arrange for her entire chapter to attend a screening of 11th Hour hosted by Greeks Go Green.  Throughout the film she got texts from her sorority sisters, asking if the films messages about ecosystem collapse were true.  One friend sent a text demanding that Allie switch seats mid-film so she could explain the Coriolis Effect (a phenomenon caused by the Earth’s rotation).  Allie complied, whispering quietly to her friend and scribbling diagrams of the Earth on the back of scratch paper.

Allie also gained two professional experiences relating to sustainability, serving as an intern for both Environment America’s Research and Policy Center in Washington, DC and Wake Forest’s Office of Energy Management.  Allie’s internship at Environment America, through the Wake Washington program, gave her valuable experience in communicating research results and in understanding how non-profit organizations operate.  As the intern for the Office of Energy Management, Allie and her co-intern Joey Matt (’13) planned Energy Bowl 2012.

Through her work with the Office of Energy Management, Allie met Dedee DeLongpre-Johnston, a second figure who impacted her aspirations for the future.  DeLongpre-Johnston, the Director of the Office of Sustainability, pointed out to Allie that every environmental problem is also a social problem.  Allie reports that this insight is leading her to pursue an explicitly humanitarian path.  In addition to helping Allie make the connection between the social and environmental, she says DeLongpre-Johnston also taught her the importance of professionalism and organization.  Allie says “Dedee taught me that it is one thing to be passionate and excited, but without a plan you really don’t get much done.”

Allie’s plan is to pursue further education, but her next step won’t be a linear extension of her undergraduate academic career.  With a strong foundation in the science behind sustainability already, Allie is planning to incorporate other influences into her education by pursuing an MA in Management at Wake Forest this fall.  She says “being fluent in other areas, such as business, will help me bring the environmental aspect into those fields.”  Wherever she goes, Allie knows she will carry the benefits of a balanced and engaged Wake Forest experience.  She reaped the benefits of mentoring relationships with faculty and staff who invested in her development and, in turn, she is focusing on paying those benefits forward by serving as a positive influence for her peers.

Written by Annabel Lang, Wake Forest  Fellow for the Office of Sustainability

Greeks Go Green

November 9th, 2012

Greeks Go Green (GGG) is a student-led initiative located at the intersection of sustainability and Greek life. Upon its inception in the spring of 2011, the idea was met with considerable interest among members of the Greek community. Greeks Go Green interns with the Office of Sustainability, Erin Murphy (WFU ’13) and Becka Brolinson (WFU ‘15) are facilitating the initiative this year. Under their leadership, the program has grown to include delegates from the eight Panhellenic Conference sororities on campus, who represent their chapters at bi-monthly GGG meetings. GGG is working with Interfraternity Council members on a more informal level and looks forward to increased cooperation in the future. Additionally, GGG hopes to recruit representatives from the sororities and fraternities on campus that are affiliated with the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC).

In the spirit of competition, organizations are incented to participate through a recognition-and-reward process. But, this isn’t the only motivator. According to Brolinson, “Countless members of the Greek community truly have a passion for sustainability.”

The purpose of Greeks Go Green is twofold. The first goal is educational. GGG members seek to raise awareness about principles of sustainability within the Greek life community. In service of this goal, GGG delegates deliver monthly presentations at their respective chapter meetings, from sustainability themes determined at the GGG representative meetings. Presentation topics have ranged from conscious consumerism to recycling and energy conservation awareness.

The second goal is hands-on. GGG members seek to incorporate sustainable practices into the functional operations of fraternities and sororities on campus. To these ends, members organized a “bin rollout” earlier this year to install recycling containers into all the sorority lounges on campus. Also, since service has always been an important aspect of Greek life, especially here at Wake Forest, GGG members volunteer for sustainability on campus. Groups and individuals have supported both the campus garden and the game-day recycling program.

With respect to both these goals Brolinson said that, “Because Greek organizations are such a huge part of student life at Wake Forest, GGG really has the potential to make a big impact.”

By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern