Its Easy to be Green! UCLA Event Sustainability Volunteer Program
UCLA program to green campus events receives recognition from collegiate events planning association.
By Rachel Iker
Originally published in ACCED-I Connections
Kermit the Frog laments that “It’s not easy being green” but at UCLA we’re finding easy ways to make our events green! During this past school year, the UCLA Event Sustainability Committee and the UCLA Events Office introduced the Event Sustainability Volunteer Program, the first of a series of programs designed to “green” campus events.
The Event Sustainability Volunteer Program offers student, staff, and faculty volunteers the opportunity to participate in campus events and to assist event guests in the distribution of their waste items into the appropriate recycling containers for proper disposal. Volunteers serve a shift of approximately an hour and a half and are often invited to enjoy the food and entertainment free of charge following their duties. After completing a certain number of events, volunteers are eligible to attend popular annual campus events at no charge such as the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards and the Jazz Reggae Festival.
Volunteers are recruited at sustainability based events, student group registration, via staff emails and via flyers at various locations throughout campus. There are currently over sixty members of the program, and it is ever expanding.
Participants in the Event Sustainability Volunteer Program, now affectionately known as the “Green Team,” go through a short training program designed to help them become familiar with sustainable techniques and current information. They are then entered in a database and notified each time that a new event opportunity becomes available. Shifts are filled on a first come, first serve basis. Once onsite, volunteers check in with the onsite event manager, are given any pertinent information about what can be recycled, and are assigned to their stations. The event manager remains available via cell phone for the duration of the event, but more often than not, the job is self explanatory.
The program provides volunteers with the exciting opportunity to see event planning in action and play an important role in UCLA’s efforts to become more environmentally friendly. Volunteers can visually measure the diversion by just looking at their bins by the end of the event, providing a sense of satisfaction for their job well done. Recruitment is ongoing and the program continues to develop with each successful event. The associate vice chancellor for general services was impressed by the efficiency of the “Green Team” at UCLA’s recent All Staff Picnic. He remarked, “The containers were filled to the brim with all possible recyclable items, down to the chicken bones!”
The Event Sustainability Committee is a branch of UCLA’s Campus Sustainability Committee, whose mission is to bring events in compliance with all campus sustainability operations. The committee has been in existence for just over a year, and has already undertaken multiple steps towards event sustainability. In addition to the Green Team and recycling station concept, they plan to roll out an Event Sustainability Web Book as a resource for campus event planners in late September. They also are developing a program to provide compostable serving ware to small scale events at a low cost; a program based on a similar program at UC Davis. The Event Sustainability Committee will continue the expansion of “green” events at UCLA and is continuously researching the effective programming of other universities and event-based companies in order to remain at the forefront of this important movement.
For more information about the programs offered by the UCLA Event Sustainability Committee, contact Rachel Iker at the UCLA Events Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachel Iker is an event manager at the UCLA Events Office where she was asked to put together a “green” program for events by the UCLA Event Sustainability Committee. Rachel was so successful in her efforts, she was asked to fill the role of the UCLA events sustainability coordinator position, in addition to her regular duties. The “Green Team” volunteers as well as many of the other programs now in effect at UCLA, have come from Rachel’s efforts. Thus far, Rachel has achieved as high as 65% diversion on some of UCLA’s largest events. This equates to tens of tons of waste being diverted from landfills to either recycling programs or composting. Way to go “green” Rachel!
Published: Tuesday, September 15, 2009