University of Auckland halls of residence began their yearly environmental ‘Green Your Room/Flat’ challenge on the 27th of March. The three-month initiative aims to establish sustainable and healthy living habits in order to reduce the University’s ecological footprint, whilst also creating a positive collective environment for the student residents. This year the programme runs in alignment with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and is putting emphasis on meat-free meals, local produce and zero waste fashion.
The programme has been modelled from the University of Indiana’s Green Room Certification Program (GRCP) where they “hope that one day, the lifestyle decisions included in the GRCP checklist will be automatic for incoming students“, as well as from Oberlin College‘s Green Room Program. Criteria for completing the challenge means commitment to reduction of environmentally destructive usage of energy, water, computing, laundry, dining, self-catering, clothing, transportation. There is also a pledge to increase reducing, reusing and recycling, and general involvement in the project.
Certain halls have more specific challenges, with residents of first year halls O’Rorke, Waipārūrū, Grafton and University Towers encouraged to donate or swap clothes, and food scrap diversion for landfill filling prevention occuring. Carlaw Park Student Village is focusing their attention towards the vegetable garden, and all other halls focus entirely on pledging they will make an effort to 75% of the sustainability goals provided by event facilitator, Maritza Klopper.
Waipārūrū Hall Resident Advisor, Hela Hartdegen says that “these things are often seen as ineffectual, but with so many students even small changes can help a lot, particularly with power and water consumption. A lot of residents like to go thrifting, almost exclusively use reusable cups and bottles and are learning how to use the Auckland public transport system to get around, all of which are beneficial.” This indicates that the expansive nature of the goals that have been set are not too overwhelming for the students. “It’s a great starting point for individual action as well as holding collective responsibility in the sharing of resources,” Hartdegen says.
According to Jacob Waitere, Head of Operations, “Accommodation has already secured 42% of kainoho (residents) pledging to the ‘Green Your Room’ challenge. This is well above last year at this time.” Waitere further notes that “while it is too early to see the results within Accommodation, what we do know is we have more kainoho than ever before interested.” In 2020, Waipārūrū Hall and Carlaw Park Student Village reported the highest rates of participation, with both having over 400 students participate in the event. 2020 also reported the highest participation in the event since 2015, with this year’s incentives hoping to increase the number of students going green.
Every week residents have a chance to be in the weekly lucky dip of spot prizes for those who have completed the challenge, and the ‘uoa.accomodation’ Instagram page has advertised an eco-friendly prize package that can be won by participating. Waitere notes that “Our kainoho have also been super enthusiastic about the environmental prize packs.”
If you are a University of Auckland accommodation resident, be sure to fill out the pledge participation sheet you should have received a link to, as well as keeping an eye on your specific hall’s Facebook page for daily tasks and updates on the event. The initiative ends on the 5th of June.