University of Wisconsin–Madison

Meet the Green Greeks!

The Green Greeks team at the Office of Sustainability (L-R): Jackson Webster, Jacqueline Olson, Natalie Brunner, Cordell Murphy.
The 2018-2019 Green Greeks team at the Office of Sustainability (L-R): Jackson Webster, Jacqueline Olson, Natalie Brunner, Cordell Murphy.

The Greek community is a prominent feature of the UW-Madison campus. Over 4,000 students belong to the dozens of fraternity and sorority organizations, and many more participate in Greek life social events.

These same events, however, are notorious for producing a lot of waste, particularly the ubiquitous SOLO cups and aluminum cans (formerly filled, no doubt, with soda). Recycling is spotty at best among fraternities and sororities, and opportunities exist to adopt other kinds of sustainability practices as well.

Fortunately, the Office of Sustainability employs multiple student interns who are also members of the Greek community, and those students have decided to bring their sustainability knowledge back to their brothers and sisters.

The Green Greeks program, which is launching this winter, has been in the works for several months. By conducting surveys, researching other schools that have implemented sustainability within their Greek communities, and applying their own direct experience, the intern team generated key insights into what initiatives would be most pertinent and beneficial in order to achieve their goals.

Going forward, the Green Greeks program will seek to establish and support efforts within the Greek Life community in order to improve environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Along with providing resources to guide waste and energy reduction habits within individual chapters, the Green Greeks program is structured around a system of positive competition, which aims to educate and empower Greek organizations. Their goal is to introduce chapters and members to sustainability initiatives in an effort to encourage positive lifelong habits and environmental awareness. Through their partnerships with Greek life, they hope to leave a lasting impact on the UW-Madison campus and the surrounding community.

The Green Greeks team plans to share their message with both the UW Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association later this month, and to invite members of the Greek community to become sustainability ambassadors.