Go Green Committee hosts first zero-waste event during Foreman Biodiversity Lecture

Professor Lance Long introduced the Zero Waste concept at the Foreman Biodiversity Lecture. Photo by Merve Ozcan.

Professor Lance Long introduced the Zero Waste concept at the Foreman Biodiversity Lecture. Photo by Merve Ozcan.

By Kai Su

The Go Green Committee hosted Stetson’s first zero-waste event during the Foreman Biodiversity Lecture featuring fish and wildlife biologist Tonya Long in the Great Hall on Monday, Oct. 23. To illustrate the impact of this approach, a pile of trash cans was moved into a corner and upended during the lunchtime lecture.

The lunch used reusable plates and silverware, rather than paper plates and plastic utensils, which cannot be recycled or composted. Attendees were instructed to leave everything on their tables after the event, and volunteers stayed to help rinse recyclable items and separate food scraps for compost by the local organization Urban Harvest.

Breanne Whited and Alexandria Avera, third-year J.D. students and co-chairs of the committee, said they were excited about this step toward making events on campus more environmentally sustainable. Go Green Committee faculty liaison Professor Lance Long proposed the idea of a zero-waste event modeled after practices he observed at his former university, the University of Oregon, where their cafeteria does not contain a single trash can. In the zero-waste model, every item is either reused, recycled or composted.

“Students—especially new students coming in—want and expect a university to be environmentally conscious and hopefully as sustainable as possible,” Professor Long said. “I think students recognize the importance of this. They recognize that they are growing up in a world that is suffering tremendous environmental degradation from former generations, and they want to do their part in helping to stop and reverse this.”

The Go Green Committee hosted the event to serve as a model for future events. Whited said several guests commended the sustainable lunch, which used real plates and silverware. Whited said she is looking forward to facilitating more zero-waste events on campus.

“The event demonstrated that sustainable, zero-waste events at Stetson are not only possible, but they are simple and extremely well-received by attendees,” Whited said. “Overall the response from guests, as well as setup and cleanup volunteers, was excellent.”

Committee members George Hiller, Haviland Kebler and Kai Su hope to implement more initiatives, including shifting the student culture to become more environmentally conscious and increasing recycling. Stetson Custodial Supervisor Mike Golladay has assisted the committee by ordering more recycling bins to place around campus and provide during events.

Student Bar Association President Dale Tan, a third-year J.D. student, decided to reinstate the Go Green Committee, which was inactive for a few semesters, after he was elected. He said that environmental initiatives should be at the forefront of SBA’s priorities.

“It is the student government’s role to provide students with a forum to address important issues like sustainability, and the resources to make it a reality,” said Tan.

“This is something I’m very passionate about,” Tan said. “And to be in a great state like Florida where sustainability is a focus of many communities, it doesn’t make sense for the Stetson community to not also be a part of that.”