How Can My Student Organization Be Sustainable?
Remember that your organization can be sustainable in a lot of ways! Your organization can be environmentally sustainable and use best practices that have the lowest impact on our planet. Your organization can be economically sustainable and use your budget wisely. Your organization can be socially sustainable and focus on the needs of the community.
Here are some ways that you can make your organization more sustainable.
Try holding paper-free meetings by sending out agendas beforehand in e-mails. Place a reminder at the end of your e-mail letting your organization members know that they should think about the environment before printing. Instead of printing out schedules, calendars, timelines, and other documents that will probably change, try creating a group Google Document so that everyone can have access to the most up-to-date information without wasting paper!
Select a Sustainable Location
See if you have the option to hold a meeting in a LEED certified building. Or learn more about social sustainability by holding a meeting at Sloss House of the Multicultural Center. Be conscious about where your meeting is located. Pick a place where people can easily walk or take the bus. If members need to drive to get to a meeting, set up a carpool.
Don’t Give away Waste
Be conscious when selecting giveaway items. Will people read the paper you give them? Or will it be littered? Make sure that every item you giveaway won’t be wasted and can really be used.
Giveaways are great marketing tools. When selecting a giveaway item try to see if you can find something that has been created sustainably or can be used to promote sustainability. Try giving away water bottles, give out a keychain made from recycled goods, or advertise your organization with a plantable pencil or postcard.
Not Just A T-Shirt
T-shirts are great to promote your organization, to create unity with your organization members, and to identify your organization at events. When creating t-shirts first try to go with a local provider. Dogtown in Campustown is a great choice.. Or if you have a friend with a screen printer ask them to help you out! When selecting a t-shirt try to see if you can pick one that has been made sweatshop free and in the United States. You can also look at organic options as well.
When creating marketing materials for your organization try free options. Social media is a great place to start. You can also request a PSA at our local college radio station. If you’re feeling adventurous, try to attend other student organizations’ meetings and advertise your event there while building partnerships.
Don’t Lose It – Reuse it!
Always see if you can reuse something before tossing it. When creating marketing posters, make a generic one without dates so you can use it again. If you want to advertise the date, create a blank space for the date, laminate your poster, and fill out the appropriate date for every year. If you have leftover items from an event, hold on to them and see if you can use them in an upcoming event, or you can use them as a nice thank you present to sponsors. When selecting items, don’t go for the disposable; instead pick quality items that can be used again and again.
When selecting catering options, feel free to let your caterer know that sustainability is important to you. They should work with you to let you know some options. Ask to incorporate local ingredients in your menu. If you want to save some money, let your caterer know what your price point is and see what they can offer. Remember that your caterer is working for you! They will work to provide the best experience for you.
When picking out a menu, try to find items that don’t need utensils. Going utensil-free is a great way to prevent waste. You can even create incentives for people who bring their own cups at event, by offering free drinks to those who have brought a reusable one. If you must use utensils, see if you can pick reusable ones. You can also see if you can use reusable tablecloths instead of disposable options. Also see if you can incorporate products that don’t use packaging. Food items have a lot of wrapping, which means there is a lot in the wastebasket. Picking a packing-free item is a great way to cut down on waste.
Munch on Social Sustainability
Food is always the center of any event, so why not pick a healthy option? Try to promote social sustainability at your event by selecting some items that are healthy. Instead of sugary lemonade, try fruit-infused water. Instead of a brownie see if you can get a fruit bar. Ask your caterer to help your healthy menu.
Raise the Funds
Always think about being financially sustainable. Be sure you have the budget to do your activities before you commit. You don’t want to be seeing red when your event is over! You can fundraise in a lot of cool ways. Earn money by recycling at the Memorial Union. Have your group sponsor at a give back night at an area business. Use Memorial Union Dining to host a fundraiser.
It’s Okay To Be Safe
When picking out options for your student organization, pick the one that makes the most financial sense. It is much better to be safe and smaller than to go all out and be in debt. Think creatively and remember that you are doing something great!
Instead of taking on the stress of an entire event, see if you can partner up! See if another organization can sponsor an event with you to spread the financial and event planning responsibility. This can be a great way to meet new people and learn about another organization.
Instead of buying a new item for an event, try to borrow. Has another organization done something similar in the past? See I you can use their items. You can borrow almost anything from sound systems to centerpieces just by asking other student organizations.
Event Management now offers recycling at all events. When you’re reserving trash`cans, be sure to reserve recycling bins as well! Create reusable signs to place around your event so your guests know that recycling is an option.
You can also request composting at your event. Just indicate that you want to be using compostable utensils and materials and ask for a compost bin. Be sure you create clear signage letting your guests know that the compost bins are where they should be placing your waste.
Featured Image: napieracademy.eu