News

Green Greek Pioneer Recycling Program

October 8, 2009

In March 2009, seven Greek houses began participating in a pilot recycling program that aims to integrate Penn’s sustainability initiatives with the Greek community.

Representatives from the seven houses worked with Penn’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs (OFSA), Facilities and Real Estate Services (FRES) and the Pan-Hellenic Council to establish the framework for a program that will expand to more fraternities and sororities this semester.

The program was initially conceived in 2004 by a group of environmentally conscious students, but fizzled due to coordination difficulties with waste management companies and the city.

Intent on reviving the Greek community’s recycling initiative, Elise Morocco of Delta Phi began researching the necessary steps to establish a structure for the program while enrolled in ENVS 494: Toward Environmental Sustainability on Penn’s Campus. After expanding on her research to include effective methods of encouraging behavior change in students, Morocco returned to Penn administrators with her new proposal.

University City District responded by donating 35 recycling bins for use inside the houses while FRES and OFSA provided the chapters with posters and scales.

Participating Greek houses, both on- and off-campus, include the Penn chapters of Pi Kappa Alpha, Pi Kappa Psi, Sigma Nu, Sigma Alpha Mu, Delta Phi, Zeta Beta Tau and Chi Omega.

Data was collected to determine the amount of waste being diverted from landfills and to get a rough estimate of the potential for a campus-wide Greek recycling program. Over the eight-week period, the seven houses recycled over two tons of paper, cardboard and commingled materials that otherwise would have been trashed.

With 22 University-owned fraternity and sorority houses on campus and 13 additional off-campus chapter houses, the fledgling program has an opportunity for continued expansion and success with additional support from the Penn Greek community. OFSA anticipates adding 12 more houses to the program this October, pushing the total number of participating houses past the halfway point of incorporating all Greek houses at Penn.

“I am so excited that our pilot program was successful, and that we have doubled participation this year,” Morocco said. “It really speaks to how much more aware students have become about the importance of environmental issues, and their willingness to make change.”

Fraternity or sorority houses interested in joining the Greek Recycling Program should have their respective Chapter President or House Manager email sustainability@upenn.edu.

Fact

A glass bottle will survive for almost 1 million years in a landfill.

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