Last week the University of Tennessee was switching from orange to green to celebrate 2018’s Sustainability Day with a passport strategy. UTK’s sustainability organization, Make Orange Green, provided passports for students to fill out at various booths. A finished passport allowed students to receive free T-shirts, tumblers, bags, and other prizes. Multiple organizations came out to educate on how to put sustainable practices in students’ everyday lives. From eating locally sourced jams to learning how to grow food, completing the passport encouraged many to learn about being green.
One organization with a huge turnout was UT’s Recycling Facilities Services. Partnered with their informational booth, their neat creation, the Pop Up Shop, debuted. The Pop Up Shop featured second-hand clothes and other items for students to take. Proof of income or any other records to get goods were not required. The shop was simply free of charge! The offer was clearly irresistible as students cleaned out a majority of the store in less than an hour. Leah McCord, Free Store Director and Coordinator for Food Systems and the Grow Lab at UTK, expressed a plan for the store to become a regular event on campus for students. To keep the Free Store alive the facilities are in constant need of donations. To donate your own clothes to their cause, they have a drop off location at their warehouse, 2121 Stephenson Dr. It’s open 24 hours!
Next to the Pop Up Shop was another green-minded organization, Pace. This is a newer company to break out in the Knoxville area. Marketed as a bike-sharing platform, people can rent bikes with their app and pay as they go. The current rate for a bike is $1 per 30 minutes. Pace also offers a monthly plan with discounts for students, seniors, and military. Representatives from the Pace booth encouraged students to try out their bikes to practice greener transportation.
Another booth advocating for greener transportation was UTK’s bike repair services. Using their “Pedal Wrench Mobile Shop” as an immediate service desk, workers could fix students’ bikes right in front of them. It created a great show for students to see the whirl and clink of their own bikes. To find the regular home of bike repair services, students have to go inside the Outdoor Center at the TRECs. A list of prices for their services are on their homepage. Representatives of the booth conveyed their hope that spreading awareness of their services would motivate students to continue to use greener methods of transportation.
Along with greener vehicles, students could find the promotion of greener sources of food too. Booths advertising vegan food, local farming, and self-sustaining practices of growing food were among them. At the Grow Lab booth, UTK’s garden, students could find McCord speaking about volunteering opportunities in the garden, and receiving a free basil plant to take home. The garden currently works as a laboratory, classroom, and food pantry. McCord expressed the lab’s desire to get more students involved in their mission to teach about food production and sustainability.
UTK’s Sustainability Day resonated with plenty of students, and the passport method of getting engagement worked well. Many organizations have taken this approach recently to get participation at events. The last couple of fairs, “Namaste Y’all” and “Just Kick It” used this successful method as well. UTK students can be certain to see another event like this in the future.