This month the Student Government Association’s (SGA) Sustainability Committee is in the process of beta testing their Silver Leaf Initiative. This new initiative is primarily aimed at student organizations with the goal of encouraging student organizations to regularly and consciously incorporate sustainability principles into their events.
“The administration has done a lot for sustainability at Tech but the students can do a lot more. [There are] a lot of good efforts going on, but I just felt like there’s nothing bringing them together,” said Rachit Kansal, co-chair of the Sustainability Committee.
Kansal explained that this initiative would be set up initially as a low level certification, something that most student organizations on campus will be able to achieve by buying into the system; by incorporating one recycling initiative into an event, they will then be able to earn that certification. Additional events with recycling involved in following semesters will allow an organization to maintain that status.
In the future, this Silver Leaf Certification is anticipated to expand to include a Gold Leaf, with stricter standards for sustainability, and a green award, as well.
The Sustainability Committee has worked closely with the Office of Solid Waste Management and Recycling, the Office of Capital Planning and Space Management as well as the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems to establish an online form that works in conjunction with requesting space on campus. This online form will allow organizations to request recycling materials at their events.
“Basically you fill out a form online, saying I’m going to be here at this time and want recycling bins here at that time. You recycle after your event, the bins are collected and SGA takes in the data to keep track of what organizations reach those certifications,” said Alex Berry, SGA Sophomore Class Representative. Berry has been heavily involved with the Sustainability Committee.
Berry explained that the main goal right now is to introduce this initiative to the student body and allow student organizations a chance start working these ideas into the planning that goes into any event on campus.
The Sustainability Committee is comprised of students whose primary aim is to promote sustainability across campus and act as a liaison between different environmental groups. The committee is split into four different facets including Green Outreach, the Green Alliance, the Sustainability Forum and the Silver Leaf Initiative.
Mary Shoemaker, co-chair of the Sustainability Committee and SGA Director of External Affairs, explained that all of the facets of the Sustainability Committee are interconnected a work together to improve campus sustainability.
“A personal goal of mine is to provide a network for all people interested and involved in sustainability to be able to connect with other like minded people,” said Shoemaker.