On Wednesday evening, the stretch of 15th Avenue between Alder and Kincaid Streets became a street fair for a couple of hours during the Greeks Go Green event, Green on 15th.
The event, which featured local vendors and student organizations, aimed to show people how easy achieving sustainability can be, said Zoe Light, Greeks Go Green coordinator. Along the street, food trucks served tasty, organic and vegetarian treats while attendees danced to music and student organizations tabled to share information about sustainable living.
Inside a few of the sorority houses on that street were more ways to learn about sustainability and recycling. Pi Beta Phi hosted a clothing swap to encourage clothing recycling. At the Delta Delta Delta house, attendees could plant succulents and paint their pots. Alpha Chi Omega handed out free water bottles from the Student Sustainability Center’s Bottles Up program with stickers for decorating.
Entry into the street fair cost $5, which will be donated to Huerto de la Familia, a community gardening organization that helps Latino families in Lane County start organic gardens. Light said that marginalized communities are often more greatly affected by climate change, which is known as environmental racism. Greeks Go Green raised roughly $2,400 for the organization during the event.
“I think it’s important to donate to a local cause because sometimes, especially in college towns, I think we forget that there’s a Eugene outside of UO,” said Light.
This year was the second annual Green on 15th event. Light and several others put on the first event last year during Earth Week to help inform people and celebrate local vendors. The team partners with the Zero Waste Program to make sure there are appropriate recycling and compost bins available.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Amelia Whitford, a sophomore who was at the event. “There are so many fun activities and the money is going to a good cause. You’re getting introduced to new companies and food trucks and brands that are very environmentally friendly or healthy options to eat.”
Student organizations like Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group were tabling at the event as well. Elizabeth Radcliffe, an OSPIRG member, said the group was there to garner support for a proposed Oregon state bill that would ban foam cups and takeout containers.
Greeks Go Green is a student-lead organization that connects Greek Life with ways to make their events more sustainable. Light joined as a freshman when the team was fewer than 10 people. Now a junior, Light and her co-coordinator Rachel Rothman oversee more than 60 members.
The organization unites 13 fraternities and sororities who work together to ensure their philanthropy events have the right recycling and compost bins to reduce waste. Light said that these events often center around food and over 500 people attend, but much of the food is wasted.
“I really care about being able to show people that sustainability isn’t this big, scary, far away thing,” said Light, who is an Environmental Science and PPPM double major. “I think that sometimes it just takes someone that is willing to patiently sit with people and explain why [sustainability is] important in a way that makes sense.”