As many of the undergraduates that I work with know, I love the environment. If I could spend all day every day in nature, I would. This has brought me numerous nicknames from my fellow Phis that usually have something to do with me loving trees, owls, or Al Gore (Thank you for that one Manitoba Alpha). However, I stand by my firm convictions on this matter. Luckily, for me, I no longer have to be the crazy man preaching on the soapbox. There is a “green” movement across the globe, and there are all sorts of buzzwords out there, like “sustainability” and “eco-conscious,” that have me jumping for joy. Everyone is piling on to the eco-bandwagon, and I couldn’t be happier.
Now, as a brother of Phi Delta Theta who travels around North America from chapter house to chapter house, I have become even more excited for the sustainable habits that have been popping in the university and Greek worlds as well. Campuses are going green, celebrating Earth Day, and planting trees. Delta Zeta has started the campaign “Pink Goes Green” where they have eco-friendly tips, blogs, and discussions on sustainable living. Even chapters of Phi Delta Theta are on the march, starting recycling programs, minimizing waste, and even moving to sustainable housing (Go Indiana Gamma!).
I’m sure that many of you are thinking, “Okay, treehugger, here’s where you get back up on that soap box and tell us how wasteful we are, that we’re all bad people, and that our world is coming to an end via climate change.” However, to put your mind at ease, this is not the case. No one is eco-perfect. For myself, my showers tend to be a little lengthy. There have been times during the Oxford winters when I drive to work (consultants live about two blocks from GHQ). I love coffee, and will drink a gallon a day, regardless of the carbon footprint it will leave to get into my cup. This is no lecture. It is simply a collection of tips, for the chapter house and for the individual chapter member, to be a little greener in our day-to-day lives. The ones I have selected are the cheaper, even money-saving, selections. Here are my favorite top five picks for each.
The Chapter House
- For heating and air conditioning systems, change the filters regularly. The harder the system has to work due to dirty filters, the more energy it’s using.
- Leave the thermostat alone! Keep the bills down, and during the winter buy a few extra blankets, or wear a sweatshirt. During the summer, use the windows if you can!
- For the dishwasher, skip the “heated dry” cycle. For the washing machines, clean the lint filter every time.
- Switch to CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs). They use two-thirds less energy!
- Finally, I’m sure you are waiting for this one: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
- Reduce – Cut the paper plates and the solo cups for dinner.
- Reuse – RUSH shirts are fun, but if you come up with a basic design, leave off the semester and year, you can reuse them from semester to semester.
- Recycle – There’s so much that we can recycle. Even if you don’t have a service to your house, check with the university or the city. They’ll be able to point you to the closest spot to take it.
The Individual Phi
- Does it take you three cups of coffee to get to your 8:00AM class? Switch to a travel mug. Most of the Starbucks and local shops out there will let you use your own cup, and even take a few cents off per cup to do it.
- Same goes for water. Plastic water bottles create 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year and take 47 million gallons of oil to produce. Ouch. Bottled water is no better for you either. So scrap the bottled water, buy yourself a canteen, and use the tap. If that water is no good, grab yourself a filter for the sink, or a pitcher with a filter to refill.
- Dust off the old bike and take it to class. It’s good exercise, you don’t have to pay the meters or pay for gas, and you’re helping the earth. If riding a bike makes you feel like a dork, Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times and beat cancer. Dork? I think not.
- Buy locally and eat seasonally. This one is tough, but it shows you’re serious. I know it’s awesome to eat mangos or corn on the cob in December, but it’s tough for the globe. You’ll support your local economy and use less oil.
- BE MINDFUL! This is a broad, but important, tip. It can mean anything: Turn off the water, lights, TV, video games, computer, etc, when they’re not being used. Walk instead of driving for a short trip. Save to the computer instead of printing. There are a number of things that are easy, it we just stop and think for a minute.
These are just some easy tips. Nothing mind blowing, but it’s all good stuff. The main tip I can give you is to educate yourselves. There are numerous books, articles, websites, etc, out there that can send you on your way to eco-friendly living. It just takes a little desire and time. Before we know it, Phi Delta Theta can be a little greener, and continue to be on the frontier of the fraternity world.
Justin Dandoy graduated from Clarion University with degrees in Political Science and English Writing. At Pennsylvania Xi, Justin served as President, warden, secretary, alumni secretary, recruitment chairman, and Phikeia educator, as well as numerous other positions. He also held the positions of President and Vice President of Risk Management of the Interfraternity Council, as well as the President of the CU Student Senate. Justin was named 2006 Homecoming King by the CU Student Body and also received the title of Mr. CU. He has previously worked on the Chapter Services team traveling the West Region, but will be working with Expansion for the 2009-2010 academic year.