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U.Va. organization works to make Greek life more sustainable

Green Greeks increases recycling and composting initiatives among Greek life

<p>Green Greeks aims to raise environmental awareness among Greek chapters, so red plastic cups and beer cans do not make their way to the landfill.</p>

Green Greeks aims to raise environmental awareness among Greek chapters, so red plastic cups and beer cans do not make their way to the landfill.

Green Greeks — a contracted independent organization that works with Greek organizations to create a more environmentally-friendly, sustainable and inclusive community — is currently taking an initiative to encourage recycling and composting at the University.

Joe DiConsiglio, a third-year College student and president of Green Greeks, currently heads the team carrying out the initiative. DiConsiglio said their goals include raising ecological awareness among Greek chapters with education, waste reduction and energy and water conservation within Greek housing.

“Greek life is one of the most wasteful organizations,” DiConsiglio said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “I love my fraternity just as I love making an impact on the environment.”

Founded in 2017 by third-year College student McKenna Savoca, Green Greeks is currently comprised of members from 16 sororities and 15 fraternities at the University, which includes half of all greek organizations affiliated with the University. 

“We have about 25 [Fraternity and Sorority Life] members and we are working on getting representatives from all FSL chapters as well as branching out to include other forms of Greek life at UVA,” DiConsiglio said.

Environmental sustainability became a larger focus at the University during the 2014 Earth Week celebration, when the Board of Visitors announced the launch of a sustainability statement and slogan with the goal to “promote the well-being of the community, solve local and global challenges through scholarship and practice, educate ethical leaders, and steward this special place." 

Since then, the University has held programs that focus on recycling, waste diversion and green undergraduate housing and has expanded its green research lab program — which focuses on reducing energy, water used and waste created.

Despite these newer initiatives, Savoca noticed a “gap that needed to be filled” among Greek housing in terms of environmental awareness. 

“As you look around Rugby Road, you do not see the cleanliness or beauty that you see everywhere else on campus,” Savoca wrote in an email to the Cavalier Daily. “While there may have been a few measures put in place in particular houses to promote sustainable behavior, it was necessary to make it a goal was taken by all Greek chapters on campus.”

Savoca said she went to the Hal Turner, Assistant Dean and Director of Fraternity & Sorority Life, during her first semester at U.Va. and suggested the idea of Green Greeks “in order to create an organized way to tackle the problems of sustainability and provide solutions to help residents to recycle, and also to encourage their chapters to implement sustainable elements into daily life.”

The group began as a subcommittee of Green Grounds, a student-run organization formed in 2004 with the goal of implementing a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly University. Green Greeks then became an official branch of Fraternity and Sorority Life.

Since its formation, Green Greeks has been able to establish Green Representatives —  student promoters for green living — inside 13 sororities and 15 fraternities, as well as establish a composting program for Greek houses and spread awareness with informational fliers inside FSL houses. 

Savoca added that the exact statistics for waste reduction and water and energy conservation are still being gathered by the organization, but programs will continue to be expanded through 2022.

According to Vanessa Bustos, a third-year College student who runs the Green Greeks Facebook page, Green Greeks members are passionate about their mission and appreciate the additional sense of community it brings them.

“I respect the green initiatives [U.Va.] is taking,” DiConsiglio said. “Going green is a long process, and you don’t necessarily see results in the short term. That’s why we took it upon ourselves to implement these sustainability methods off-grounds, though I would like to see more progress on-grounds.”

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