Student organization promotes sustainability efforts on campus

Arrows point students to dispose of their trash in the correct receptacles. Campus Student Sustainability Initiatives attempt to engage students to have a greener lifestyle. (Photo courtesy of Corinne DiVittorio)

Members of ASU’s Campus Student Sustainability Initiatives are working this year to recruit more students to promote volunteer efforts and expand their impact on campus.

The Tempe campus organization highlights the importance of student involvement and encourages members to begin their own projects to reach sustainability goals.

Director of Engagement and sustainability junior Natalie Melkonoff said the organization, which was originally established in 2010 under the Undergraduate Student Government, saw a large portion of its membership graduate last year.

About 15 people had been regularly involved in the program, Melkonoff said. The club plans to increase its numbers through social media and advertising at Tempe campus events.

“We have a Facebook and Twitter,” Melkonoff said.  “Our Facebook following is a lot larger than last year.”

The group also occasionally sets up a table on the campus so passersby can become familiar with the club.

“This year, we have a clear-cut understanding of what we’re going to do,” Melkonoff said.

CSSI recently broke away from USG so it could broaden its impact by establishing branches within itself for students to be involved in, including Green Team, the volunteer-based sector of the organization.  The club also has initiative, engagement and project branches, Melkonoff said.

Although the club still works closely with and receives funding from USG, it now has more freedom, Melkonoff said.  In spring 2011, the University granted CSSI its own meeting space as a trial to see if the space would benefit the group.

CSSI’s first volunteering effort this year was the Annual Tiki Luau, sponsored by the Residence Halls Association, said Corinne DiVittorio, executive director of the club.

The volunteers met with managers of this event to determine and set up the correct number of waste stations. They manned these stations throughout the event to educate students on recyclables and raise awareness about the club, DiVittorio said.

“A lot of people don’t know what to do … we always hear, ‘I didn’t know you could recycle that,’” she said.  “It’s good to just be a face out there and (be) a reminder to students.”

Last year, in an attempt to initiate innovative projects throughout campus, CSSI began the Water Fountain Retrofits.

“We are installing … water fountains which will have water bottle fillers attached to them,” Melkonoff said.  “People can easily refill their water bottles with filtered water on campus.”

Sustainable business junior Shelby Vick has participated in CSSI since her freshman year.  She said CSSI encouraged her to get further involved with a project she feels strongly about.

This year, she said she plans to collaborate with the Tempe campus bookstore to help them become more “green.”

“We would like to work with the bookstore and see if they would be open to making a reusable book bag and stop using plastic bags,” she said.

CSSI held its first general meeting Aug. 30 with approximately 30 attendees.  This was a really good turnout for the club, Melkonoff said.

The organization meets every other Thursday to discuss upcoming events, like Sustainability Day, the group’s all-day fall event that usually takes place in October.

The next CSSI meeting is this Thursday, Sept. 13 in the Tempe campus Matthews Center.


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