Though the regular football season may be over, one University organization hopes their goals to establish sustainable efforts during games will resonate beyond Football Saturdays.
The Greek Life Sustainability team — founded by LSA junior Kevin Kononenko, the group’s president — was created to better align the debauchery of Football Saturdays with University values.
“From talking to University staff, it seems that some are worried that the partying that happens on Football Saturdays may slightly damage the public image of the University,” Kononenko said.
G LIST’s current project, Trust for Cups, provides fraternities with discounted plastic cups if 35 percent of their waste stream is recycled, Kononenko said.
“Trust for Cups will serve as a notice to both local community members and staff that students are not entirely careless, and they do recognize that recycling behavior is a net gain for themselves and the local community,” Kononenko said.
Kononenko said all party materials, such as cups, cans and bottles, can be recycled. The program also necessitates that everyday materials meet their fate in a green bin.
Every house requires an overseer, be it the president or an added sustainability chair, to ensure members are recycling correctly. Recycling operations consultants, liaisons from G LIST, provide additional education and monitor recycling output.
“If the proportion of waste going to recycling compared to waste going to the dumpster is high, it has been a successful week,” LSA junior Michael Lopatin, a recycling operations consultant, said. “I also make a point to talk to the guys and see what they are finding effective and what is difficult for them. It’s a priority for G LIST to not only spread awareness, but also to facilitate and incentivize effective, efficient and desirable recycling strategies.”
Last January, Kononenko connected with LSA junior Jordan Kamphuis, the president of Delta Kappa Epsilon, one of the first fraternities to take part in the initiative.
“At first it was a little weird because there were kids who were like, ‘I don’t care about recycling, why are we doing this?’” Kamphuis said. “You just tell kids who were against it and that were being fairly irrational, ‘All right guys we’re helping the fraternity so get over it.’”
After initial clamor, Kamphuis said the project was implemented smoothly over the course of about two weeks.
LSA junior Gabriele Trupp, the team’s vice president of operations, said this pattern is common in houses.
“Because it deals with a behavior change within the houses, it always takes a while to get started,” Trupp said. “But once the program has begun, the houses involved really enjoy being a part of the program and learning more about how they can improve their recycling behavior.”
G LIST collaborates with Recycle Ann Arbor, a non-profit organization contracted by the City of Ann Arbor to service residents and business with curbside recycling pickup. Senior recycling coordinator Kendra Pyle said RAA provides “recycling training and logistical support” for G LIST members. They also supply recycling bins and carts, educational materials and recycling pickup for fraternity and sorority houses involved.
The Dart Container Corporation, which owns the Solo Cup Company that makes the infamous red cups used at most Greek parties, helped connect the team with the Student Buyers Association, a campus organization which aids other campus groups in garnering better pricing on products. Purchased from SBA, a case of 1,000 cups costs $44.89, a discount of 20 to 35 percent for fraternities and sororities.
In September, G LIST added Delta Upsilon and Sigma Phi Epsilon as participants in the program. Delta Upsilon currently has the largest diversion rate, at 66 percent.
Delta Upsilon sustainability chair Tim Wurman says he and the house manager place small recycling bins on each floor of the house and in dining locations to encourage sustainable practices.
“People are much more likely to recycle when it is convenient for them to do so,” Wurman said. “The house manager assigns chores to all of the brothers who live in the house, one of them being taking out the recycling bins to the curb every week.”
Kamphuis, who has attended several Interfraternity Council meetings, added five more houses to the program last month.
Chi Phi president Jake Markel said his fraternity uses about 10-12,000 cups per semester, adding that Trust for Cups will save the fraternity “significant amounts of money” with little effort.
“It requires really no extra work,” Markel said. “As of now, they pick up all the party trash, put it in a trash bag and walk to a dumpster. With the recycle bins, we have the recycle bins right next to the dumpster, so … put it in the recycle bin instead.”