This week, the residences of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity’s on-campus chapter house will have the option to recycle their plastic cups and cans for the first time.
Recycling is available to all fraternities, College sophomore and SAE Eco-Rep Ian MacLean said. “It’s just a matter of getting it organized.”
Of the other fraternities and sororities on campus, SAE is not the first to begin recycling. “At the meeting for all the Greek Eco-Reps … I noticed that many of the other houses already had recycling systems in place. I saw it as a reachable and realistic goal for SAE,” MacLean said.
Last fall, fraternities and sororities joined the Penn Green Campus partnership by assigning peer environmental education leaders or Eco-Reps to each on-campus fraternity and sorority house.
There was a “big push” for on campus fraternity and sorority houses to get involved, said Wharton sophomore Stephanie Weiner and Eco-Reps executive board member, who oversees Greek Eco-Reps. “All the Greek Eco-Reps are given a budget and are expected to spread the message of sustainability.”
Currently, fraternity and sorority houses are not required to recycle. However, each Greek Eco-Rep is responsible for overseeing two events each semester that promote environmental sustainability. Their goals must pertain to an “over arching theme,” Weiner added. “This theme can be water conservation, electricity efficiency or recycling.”
“Every frat house should start with recycling,” MacLean said. “A frat house is a social place, it produces a lot of waste … I’d say we go through more than 100 cans a weekend and probably 200 plastic cups.”
“If you just put out bins at parties it would make a lot of sense,” Weiner said.
It is completely free for a fraternity or sorority house to begin recycling, MacLean said, adding that the Office of Student Affairs and Sorority Fraternity Life supplies recycling bins.
College sophomore and Eco-Rep for Psi Upsilon, or “Castle,” Thoba Grenville-Grey said his hardest responsibility as an Eco-Rep involves managing logistics, such as ensuring that the house has a sufficient amount of trash and recycling bins and making sure recycled materials don’t get disposed of in the non-recycled dumpster.
“Our house has also managed other green pursuits such as insulated windows, chimney covers and new geysers,” Grenville-Grey added.
“We are moving forward with initiatives in which everyone can be involved, like documentary screenings and planning competitions between chapter houses,” College junior and Alpha Chi Omega Eco-Rep Natalie Volpe said. Greeks can also try to potentially connect these events with their philanthropy requirements, Volpe added.
“It’s still hard to measure what houses are actually doing,” Weiner said. “We can advocate shorter showers, but how can you really tell? Eco-Reps are more about spreading the message and keeping it on everyone’s mind.”