Students who have attended any of the many international events, including the recent International Dinner, may have noticed reused decorations and the compostable plates they ate from while tasting different ethnic cuisine.
International Student Union has recently taken steps this Fall Semester to promote sustainability in its events and for its member organizations to follow, which has saved the organization hundreds of dollars.
ISU is working to promote sustainability on both a large scale and a small scale, Hashim Pashtun, the president of ISU, said. On a large scale, Pashtun wants the university to enforce major programming rules on organizations to make events more eco-friendly. On a daily basis, Pashtun wants organizations to be sustainable by wasting less paper and plastic and by reusing items.
Pashtun said these steps toward sustainability are a transition to next semester.
“We’re giving this semester as a transition (for member organizations) to get used to the culture of online ticketing, to get used to the culture of non-printed flyer or poster promotion,” Pashtun, a graduate student studying civil engineering, said.
At the International Dinner on Nov. 15, ISU used different methods to promote sustainability and to make the event more eco-friendly, Pashtun said. ISU did not print tickets or menu cards and promoted the event through Facebook and online advertisements instead of paper flyers. They also used a QR code for people to scan to see the menu.
The organization saved money from printing costs, Doreen Kang, the ISU treasurer, said.
“I hope in the future that (member organizations) will be realizing how to be more sustainable,” Kang said. “The money we are saving has a number, but this awareness and realizing is priceless.”
Instead of printing name tags for the tables and using paper, this year ISU used flags to announce when a table could be served food at International Dinner, Pashtun said.
At the international dinner, attendees ate from compostable plates and utensils, which also saved about $700 from catering fees, Kang, a second-year graduate studying financial economics, said.
Next year, ISU hopes to use non-paper plates such as china to help limit waste, Xinyi Yan, the programming director of ISU, said.
“I was thinking about this, because after you use it, you can just rewash and it reuse it every time,” Yan, a senior studying strategic communication said.
ISU has also started to reuse decorations from different international events. Candles decorated the tables at International Dinner, for example, and were also used at Holi and Yalda Night events as well. Reusing decorations helps to get rid of the culture of buying things to just throw them away after using them, Pashtun said.
Graduate Student Senate and the Zero Waste Initiative is also working with ISU to help them execute eco-friendly ideas and make events more sustainable. In addition to making events more eco-friendly, ISU is purchasing water bottles for students to reuse on a daily basis in order to reduce plastic water bottle waste, Pashtun said.
Sustainability is not just an Athens, Ohio or United States issue, Pashtun said. Because it is a global problem, it requires a global solution.
“That’s what ISU represents — that example that students comprising from United States to Afghanistan to India get together at Ohio University as an organization, but helping to get towards sustainability, which is a global goal that we share,” Pashtun said.