University greeks attempt to go green

Lisa Balzo wanted to start a program that would educate the University of MinnesotaâÄôs greek community members about ways they could make their lives more sustainable. Then she learned about Greeks Going Green (3G) , a campaign that started at the University of Florida two years ago to promote environmental awareness and eco-friendliness. Since then, 3G has added more than a dozen chapters at universities across the country, so this year Balzo started a chapter at the University. Balzo, a journalism senior and president of 3G at the University, said 63 greeks are in the chapter, representing 18 of the 35 greek houses on campus. The chapterâÄôs goals include starting a recycling program in every greek house and exploring wind power as an alternative energy source for the houses. The chapter is in the process of applying for grants that would provide the necessary funds to implement either of these programs. Bio-based products and management junior Devin Seese is the chapterâÄôs vice president and he said getting funding is one of the hardest parts of starting a program like this. âÄúOne of the biggest detriments to people going green is that itâÄôs expensive,âÄù Seese said. âÄúHopefully we can get a nice little base of money to be able to supplement the houses a little bit and give them some startup money.âÄù Balzo said it will be hard to take these bigger steps without a grant, but in the meantime the chapter is focusing on educating leaders within the greek community and implementing small changes. The chapter is focusing on switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs in greek houses and installing shower heads that use less water, but have more pressure. Balzo said it will be important to provide people with the resources to start making changes. âÄúI think that people are lazy, and not just greeks, but all people are lazy and so giving them the tools that they need to make it easy for them will help them take the next step,âÄù she said. Dustin Norman , president of the Interfraternity Council , said the chapter will be as strong as the people who get involved with it. Norman said in the past there have been initiatives within individual houses to recycle more or cut emissions, but he is unaware of any that have taken hold. On a national level, 3G chapters are only expected to make one lifestyle change each year, but Seese said these changes are too slow, considering the strong response the chapter has received within the greek community. Balzo said the University chapter will try to move away from the national program and make faster changes. Seese said the chapter will eventually try to start its recycling program through the UniversityâÄôs waste and recycling service or through Waste Management . Kylie Savino , a senior at the University of Florida and the founder of 3G, said itâÄôs common that greek houses donâÄôt have recycling programs. Seese said the recycling program will be important, especially for fraternities. âÄúThere are so many cans and bottles,âÄù Seese said. âÄúIâÄôm not trying to promote the party aspect of greeks, but thereâÄôs a lot of cans.âÄù Balzo said the recycling program could still include houses that are not in 3G, but she said the chapter is focusing on getting a representative from every house. Savino said 33 of 42 houses are active in 3G at the University of Florida. Savino said there are currently 14 chapters across the country, with a goal to have 50 chapters nationwide by the end of the year.