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Greeks Go Green

March 7, 2011

This week, 8 Goes Green is interested in how students are going green at the University of Missouri. KOMU 8’s Josh Frydman sat down with sophomore Galen Hoft, president of Missouri’s student organization — Greeks Going Green — to learn about current green initiatives his group is undertaking and to hear how students on campus can do little things every day to become more environmentally conscious.

Q. Tell us what “Greeks Going Green” is all about?

A. We meet every other week in Arts and Science building room 114. It’s been going pretty well so far. Last semester our big initiative was to have everyone start recycling. That was our big semester-long project. This year I decided that we were going to start to try to eliminate styrofoam. Catering companies and other people like that use styrofoam and it’s not biodegradable – it breaks up in landfills, and it’s the biggest ‘litterant.’ I think I just made up that word. It’s the number one thing that’s littered.

Last semester we had an all Greektown cleanup that went really well, it was right after Homecoming. We had a Shakespeare’s fundraiser, but the delegates didn’t really do too much. They just went to the meetings and that was it. This semester, what we are implementing, is that delegates are in the running for the Sustainability Cup if they apply, which you get at Greek Honors Night. We are also doing pairings, kind of like

Homecoming or Greek Week, where we are going to pair two houses together and they are going to do some kind of sustainable project. It could be stream cleanup, Greektown cleanup again; a blackout like how on Earth Day you don’t turn on your lights for like an hour or it could be for the whole day, however long you wanted. We are trying to get them a little more involved. We also have an adopt-a-spot on the corner of Rollins and Providence. It’s exciting. Last year, when I was a freshman, it was me and probably two other people who were there. Now we probably have a consistent 25-30 members who come. They come and they all seem really into it.

Q. Do you guys work only with Greek organizations or do you work with the city of Columbia, as well, on projects?

A. We can work with the city, but it is Greeks going green.” Layli Terrell is our liaison at City Hall so she’ll help houses recycle and give them the resources they need. So mainly it’s Greek houses that participate, but we do have guest speakers, we have one coming to our next meeting from a sustainable organization on campus. Sustain Mizzou has wanted to work with us and SPROUT, which is another organization on campus.

Q. What would you say is the biggest sustainable or green issue that is currently plaguing the city?

A. I would say material usage. Really, the only things that Columbia recycles are plastic bottles, aluminum cans and glass bottles. There are so many other things: Solo cups they don’t recycle, receipt paper they don’t recycle, pizza boxes. On the bottom there is that recyclable triangle and it has a certain number in it. And I think they recycle only one through four, but there’s six and eight and seven and all those different kinds of numbers. That’s probably the biggest thing. The usage of materials and the lack of knowledge of the subject.

Q. What can people do even if they are not a part of the group to help Columbia go green?

A. I mean, there are a lot of things they can do. If they live in a dorm, they always have recyclable stuff in there. You could have a recyclable can in your room to put cans and glass bottles in that. Recycle your notebooks at the end of the year. We always have a notebook drive, so even if you are not a part of the group, you can drop off your notebooks and stuff. You just take out the binding and you can recycle the paper. Turn off your lights; turn off your TV when you are not in the room. You can take colder showers when it’s warm outside. Don’t take as long of showers. The sustainable light bulbs you can start to use. And don’t use as much styrofoam. But if you wanted to go bigger, you could ask City Hall and ask why they don’t recycle this or that. They just don’t have the funding, I’m guessing, for those materials. You could ask them why; try to raise money to get the funding. Try to talk to dining halls to try and get more biodegradable materials to use. I know YogoLuv has spoons made of potatoes, and Addison’s has those to-go boxes that are biodegradable, recyclable. So you know just be conscious of what you are doing and try to do the right thing as far as sustainability goes.

Q. Where are some places on campus people can find recycle bins?

A. At the Rec there are recycle bins, even though a lot of the protein shakes are not recyclable. The recycle bins are the tan, little bins that have the recycle symbol on them; you can put glass and plastic in there. They are just around campus. In the dorms they are a blue bin with a white top located in the common area. Around Greektown there are some outside the houses, and if they don’t care, just pop them in there. Just don’t put them in the trash or on the ground.

Q. How did you get so passionate and involved with sustainability?

A. My mom always really hounded us to turn off all the lights when we were young. When we got older, we had a recycling company come and get our stuff. But when we moved they couldn’t get our stuff anymore, so we would take it to the local recycling place. I always had fun with my dad going there on Sunday afternoons. I liked it just spending time with my parents and stuff like that, but at the same time I was like, “Wow this really is a big deal. This is a big, real problem and someone’s got to do something about it.”

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