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UofL Green Scene: Students in GRASS share passion for sustainability

by Olivia Sailor, GRASS president last modified Dec 02, 2009 01:09 PM

(Editor's Note: Green Scene is a monthly column on sustainable activities at UofL by the faculty, staff and students responsible for them.)

UofL Green Scene: Students in GRASS share passion for sustainability

"We're not asking everyone to go dumpster diving, we're just asking people to give us a reason not to." - Tyler Lloyd, GRASS.

Beginning any club is a challenge. For GRASS – Group Recycling and Sustainable Solutions, it was no different.

It has been a year since environmentally minded students began to gather under our name. Students from different majors and backgrounds came together because of our desire to make a difference in the world. Our ability to connect with so many different students is perhaps GRASS’s best quality.

However, just connecting with students isn’t enough. As GRASS grew, we found an increasing need to establish quality programs for UofL students and community members. We’ve accomplished this goal in myriad ways.

GRASS perhaps is best known for our dumpster dives. While part of their pull is shock and curiosity, they also are educational experiences. How many times does someone get the opportunity to rummage through the lives of other people?  By looking at what others throw away comes an understanding of their habits and values.

Or maybe it's more accurate to say that what we find in the dumpsters shows what others don't value – that they don't understand the true consequences of their habits.

It’s a study of human behavior that can simultaneously fascinate, disgust, humor and encourage our divers to question their own actions.

GRASS also has begun a film and lecture series to provide students and others with opportunities to learn about large-scale issues as well as to connect them with local community groups and organizations that offer local solutions.

For example, the first film we showed was "FLOW." From it our audience learned of the global water crisis, but GRASS also invited its co-producer Gill Holland to be our main speaker, along with groups like Metro Sewer District and a company that installs gray water systems in bathrooms. We’ve continued our film and lecture series with "Mountaintop Removal," which we showed during the Bioneers Conference local event, and more recently with "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

GRASS has grown a considerable amount since our first small meeting. We’ve had to adapt to a variety of challenges. But our members are the kind of students who are used to challenges, used to facing the difficulties of life and coming out wiser for it.

We live in a wonderful and frustrating age where we’re told we can and should make a difference. We want better recycling on campus and more campus-wide practices that support sustainable management. UofL is working on those things, yet our members want to make those changes now.

Most of all, we want to share our passion for what the future could become - a sustainable environment.

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