Go green: Organizations urged to waste less

By Jordan Hearne

Waste generated by on-campus organization meetings might be reduced thanks to the Green Meeting Certification program launched Nov. 9 by the department of sustainability.

The program, which seeks to make on-campus meetings more environmentally friendly, is open to groups that hold regularly scheduled and one-time meetings, sustainability coordinator Smith Getterman said. Organizations can apply for certification by going to the Department of Sustainability website and filling out the online form.

Applicants will receive a response informing them of their environmental score and sustainability within seven to 10 days, Getterman said.

A digital badge ranging from bronze — the lowest level — to green — the highest level — will be awarded to the organization depending on its scores. Certification is valid for one year.

Scoring, as listed on the application, favors eco-friendly behaviors such as electronic communication and reusable utensils for catered events.

While there are no consequences for a poor score or for not receiving certification, those with green badges will be able to say the university has deemed them an environmentally friendly organization.

David Stamile, assistant residence hall director at Penland Residence Hall, was the first to fill out the certification form in an attempt to gain green certification for Penland’s weekly community leader meetings.

“We’ve never had an agenda in our staff meetings that has been handed out,” Stamile said. “What business is covered is something we simply tell CLs about in person. If they need info on hand, we email that to them and use less paper.”

Just filling out the certification form causes organization to think about how they can improve their meetings, Stamile said.

“When filling out the form, it kind of gets you thinking. It caused me to realize that we don’t have separate bins for recycling and trash [in the Penland CL meeting area], and that could be in more meeting spaces on campus,” Stamile said. “There’s a lot of little things you don’t think about.”

Inspiration for the program came from witnessing excess waste produced at meetings he has attended on campus, Getterman said. He said it is an effort to make organizations think about where they can go green.

“I think the impact will be that people will have the opportunity to step back and see how meetings are being run and use resources more efficiently,” Getterman said.

Printing individual slides from a slideshow for each person attending a meeting is one negative practice Getterman said he thinks should be changed.

“You can do double-sided or multiple slides per page. I have also gone to meetings that had food catered to them when there didn’t need to be any food at that meeting,” Getterman said. “It bothered me from an environmental standpoint, and from a fiscal standpoint. It’s a huge waste of money that could be spent on other things in the department.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website says paper waste associated with marketing and event registration is among the largest sources of waste.

The website lists methods to reduce waste such as recycling paper and saving leftovers from meetings where food is provided.

Getterman said he hopes the Green Meeting Certification program will appeal not only to faculty and staff, but also to student organizations on campus.

“Fraternities or sororities or organizations like a Latin dance club have meetings,” Getterman said. “If you have a meeting you can fill this form out and be certified.”