Green Life is the Good Life

Students at Maryland can do more than expand their horizons. They can shrink their environmental footprint.
The Office of Sustainability, in partnership with the Department of Resident Life and the Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life, launched the Green Terp and Green Chapter programs to increase sustainable behaviors among students.
The Green Terp program asks students to adopt 10 “green” habits that can be easily integrated into everyday life at no cost, such as carrying a reusable water bottle, using biodegradable cleaning products and washing laundry in cold water. Students can become certified as “Green Terps” through the program, which is designed to be accessible to anyone on campus regardless of background, living situation or knowledge of sustainability.
“The Green Terp program brings sustainability concepts directly to students and makes them really digestible,” says Lee-Ellen Myles, sustainability associate for green housing programs. “It gives anyone the opportunity to be involved in something that is more important than ever on campus and in our community.”
Bryan Selby, a resident assistant in Oakland Hall, encouraged students to participate.
“Sustainability is often looked at as an inconvenient way of living,” he says. “This is changing the narrative: You can be sustainable as a college student and not change that much about your lifestyle.”
Members of fraternities and sororities can participate through the Green Chapter program by committing to sustainability as individuals and taking chapter-wide environmental action. To earn certification, 30 percent of the chapter’s membership must be certified Green Terps, the chapter must have an elected sustainability chair, and complete at least three environmental projects per year.
“I have seen a difference in my chapter after joining the Green Chapter program,” says Paola Santos, president and sustainability chair of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority. “They think about sustainability now even without my influence. They have become very conscious.”
The Green Terp and Green Chapter programs became realities thanks to support from the Sustainability Fund. An initial grant allowed the programs to pilot in 13 residence halls and eight Greek chapters during the 2017–18 academic year, bringing sustainability knowledge and skills to over 1,500 students. A second Sustainability Fund grant expanded both programs across campus.
“Our hope is that Green Terps take sustainability with them after graduation in order to become more conscientious citizens,” says Myles. “Being sustainable is part of what it means to be a Terp, and through these initiatives, individuals are seeing how their small actions can make big changes.”
This story was featured in the 2018 SustainableUMD Magazine