By Hyunjee Lee
What better time than the final weekend of Green Cup 2014 to get to know more about one of the organizations behind it? They conserve electricity, they decrease water use, they spread the sustainability cheer—they are the unsung heroes of your residence halls, your Eco-Reps.
Eco-Reps was created over four years ago by a few students, but it truly established itself rather recently. In fall 2012, Allison Potteiger of the Office of Sustainability began working with the small, struggling group of Eco-Reps to expand the organization in number and to extend its influence on campus. Reaching out to Residential Services and Greek student governments, Eco-Reps gathered about 20 members—one from each residence hall and Greek house as well as some off-campus. Although Potteiger initially led the meetings, the group organized student leadership and has since been student-run.
Now Eco-Reps serve as a communication tool between the Office of Sustainability and students. They also help organize green events on campus and are the go-to’s for residents with environmental questions. They’re elected along with hall executive boards and attend weekly meetings to brainstorm ways to spread sustainability across campus.
Eco-Reps co-president Mike Ziebel, a Weinberg senior, was attracted to the organization because it spread awareness to a wider range of students. “[It’s a] chance to really integrate the people who aren’t engaged in sustainability into what the sustainability community at Northwestern is doing,” said Ziebel.
Eco-Reps are currently keeping busy with Green Cup, a month-long competition among residence halls, Greek houses and off-campus participants to see which can be the most sustainable. Co-president and Weinberg senior Brenna Ledvora said this topic has been consuming all their meetings, from talking about how to make students more engaged to planning events.
The organization held a “Green Fest” Friday, Nov. 7th which featured a handful of environmental organizations teaching students about sustainability through games and demonstrations. And on October 25th they continued the tradition of their Green Scavenger Hunt, where teams ran around campus looking for sustainability-related features. Aside from holding events though, Eco-Reps have a particularly important role during the month. “Green Cup is a chance for residence halls to be even more alert than usual,” said Ziebel, noting that the event encourages residents to talk to their Eco-Reps about what they can do to win.
So what are some ways you could take action? Ziebel recommends saving energy by turning off lights, power strips, and other electronics when they’re not in use. Ledvora calls for a more all-around approach, though, by doing a little of everything: taking shorter showers, reducing waste and recycling, to name a few.
Now that you have the basics, reach out to your residence hall’s green hero, disguised as a regular college student, to find out ways you can improve your hall’s sustainability. And if you missed the ball on running for an Eco-Rep position but are still interested in getting involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.