By Scott Brown
Four Northwestern student groups earned some green for going green when the Associated Student Government’s Sustainability Committee announced its first list of Green Accredited groups this week. Out of 19 groups that applied, Form and Function Marketing, The Campus Kitchen, the NU Outing Club and Real Food at Northwestern qualified for the new certification, each receiving $100 in funding from ASG.
Through an online application, groups were assessed on their waste, food practices, travel habits and electricity use. The organizations were asked about everything from disposable utensil use to public transportation to local and organic food purchases.
“It’s focused more on asking and determining what groups are actively doing, and not what they’re not doing,” said Michael Ziebel, project lead of the Green Accreditation program. “We don’t expect any group to be perfect.”
Applying for recognition made sense for Real Food at Northwestern, said co-director Colleen Fitzgerrell. To reduce its footprint, the group sources exclusively from local restaurants, advertises on Facebook rather than flyering and prints on recycled paper.
“I think it’s just a good thing for marketing ourselves to have a third party accredit us as a green organization,” she said. “We can talk to people and say we’re a green group, but this adds a different layer.”
However, most applicants in this first round didn’t make the cut. One of these groups was Dance Marathon, who already composts leftover food, uses biodegradable paper goods and recycles at their event. But DM executive co-chair Ander Aretakis said there are some sustainability barriers for the event: small local restaurants may not always be able to donate enough to feed 1,000 people, and he is unsure whether next year’s board will decide to cut back on registration flyering. Despite these barriers, Aretakis said he has a feeling DM will apply again.
“Having less of an impact is always a good idea,” he said. “Maybe we can provide examples for other large events on campus to be more sustainable.”
To help out DM and other groups who didn’t meet standards this time around, Ziebel said the Sustainability Committee offers a Green Events Consulting program, in which ASG members will work with groups to find ways to reduce the impacts of their programming. Fitzgerrell said she sees a lot of potential in the ripple effects of all of these efforts.
“These student organizations can have a lot of power on campus,” Fitzgerrell said. “If they’re setting the example and showing the administration that they care about sustainability, it has the potential to affect the administration’s work, and also affect their members to incorporate practices of sustainability, values and ethics in their daily lives.”