Tuesday, June 30, 2009
So on Friday, I met with Susie from Stanford. You know, like John from Texas or Odysseus of Ithaca. Anyways, our meeting was very, very productive. I think we have a lot to learn from them, and to be honest, their students are much more involved. Still though, we're made up of the same sort of people- hard-working, smart, capable. Taking that into account, I see no reason as to why we cannot get onto their level or even better. As they say, there's nowhere to go but up!
As I mentioned in a previous post, Susie is going to be a sophomore. She was general manager of their green store and creator of the website It's Easy Being Green. The Green Store offers recyclable party cups for parties, student events, and private gatherings. Susie was telling me how people still buy them, even if they are a little bit more expensive than the red cups at Costco. There is a catch, though. Because the Green Store, through their student government, qualifies as a nonprofit community service organization (I think I got that right?), they get money to buy the cups. So even if they sell the cups at a loss, they'll still get money to keep buying them. It's not a for-profit operation.
We were talking about maybe opening a green store for our school. And as I mentioned in that previous post, this goes hand in hand with what Green Greeks has done this past year- working to recycle at frats. Susie also talked about an interesting marketing ploy that really created some buzz when they opened the Green Store. In their version of the Reynold's Club, they had games of juice pong in the recyclable cups. People like to play whatever-drink pong, and it got the word out really well. A couple of things before we do the same thing. We'd have to play outside, and it's cold outside in Chicago for a large part of the year. Second, their Reynold's Club is outdoors. Ours isn't. Are there any other really public out doors space that we can book? Hutch courtyard was my first thought, but that doesn't seem to get too much traffic. But people do peek out of windows when they're in the Reynold's Club? I dunno.
Do y'all think a Green Store would be successful at our school? Could we even turn a profit? I don't think we're going to get funding just to keep this operation afloat. Are there other methods to bring about recyclable party cups to campus. If not recyclable, how about biodegradable cups? If we somehow manage to be in charge though, it would be an excellent opportunity to present sustainability in a tangible way. And in the process, spread the word about GCI.
Susie also talked about their student government, a large part of their life. Over there at that school in California, student government plays a HUGE role. They have a senate with committees that can actually bring concrete changes to campus. Basically, they can do noticeable things. Also, it seems like because its such a large institution, participation is actually pretty high. Our SG elections had a 35% undergraduate turnout and a 6% graduate student turnout (this and that). Stanford had a 51% turnout for undergraduates and a 24% turnout for graduates (here and there). My point is that student government is there for a reason. And there lies enormous potential to work with them to make changes on our campus.
So next year, we should work with student government much more. I will do my research on SG and think about ways we can work with them. We're going to meet class reps, work with committees, and talk with the board to see how they can help us and we can help them. I don't know much right now, but I'll add "figure out how SG works" onto my list of things to do over the summer. Remember Tara Levens, who was elected as a Class of 2012 Rep. Her whole campaign was focused on greening our campus, and the fact that she was elected offers a ray of hope. I know we're a little ways off from these super-active Stanford kids (maybe it's the weather), but I'm not that worried. We're not Stanford, after all. We can, though, work harder to increase awareness, cooperate more with other students to carry out substantive improvements, and really engage our students to do more than homework and sleep.
So all peachiness aside, my meeting with Susie really reaffirmed my previous notion that a successful RSO must have a good marketing person(s). Getting the word out. Spreading information. Telling students what's going on. It's all the same. Usually, this involves somebody who can work magic on a computer. Somebody who is artsy and can draw helps a lot. The other major part is creativity, such as a juice pong event.
In my opinion and through surveys we did at No Trash Bash, fliers do not work too well at our school. The bulletain boards are always covered, and we can't put flyers anywhere.
Listhosts are a good way to spread the information, until a moderator gets angry and reports you to NSIT, which actually happened this past year.
Putting flyers under the doors in the dorms sounds good, until we realize that we don't have all the dorms covered since we're not the biggest of RSOs. But I think that's something we should look into.
Now, asking permission to spread information at house meetings sounds like a really awesome idea. We didn't do it at all last year, but I do remember talking about it and everybody agreeing on its goodness.
Videos work, if they're good. But they also take time. If we only had more people... Meh.
Using O-week as a major marketing push sounds like a good idea, as lots of people are on campus, but nobody has work! We'll see if we can organize some events. I think Ilsa and Claire are working on that as we speak (O-week events). It's a little late this year, but I think next year we can also try sending informational environmental mailings to the first years.
So that was my thought-vomit of marketing ideas for next year. I think I'll dedicate a more organized post with more complete ideas sometime down the road.
One more thing that came up in our discussion, and something I had been thinking about for some time, was a sustainable fashion show. I know we have one per quarter, and there are lots of designers. If we could somehow sponsor an entire sustainable event with recycled clothing/clothing made with organic materials, that would be pretty awesome. Just floating an idea up there. But I do know you can do lots with old clothing. Lots and lots.
Wearing my high school environmental club t-shirt,
at 10:34 PM