Faces of Sustainability

Chelsea Livingstone, Clubs Fair 2013

Clubs Fair 2013 was one of the first events to receive Gold certification in the Green Spaces Certification Program. To earn this Gold ranking, the organizers committed to implementing a range of sustainable event planning actions relating to logistics, communications, venue and transportation. They even took on an innovative action of their own, creating a spotlight feature in their newsletter for student groups who certify under Green Spaces.

Chelsea Livingstone was the Coordinator of Clubs Fair. She and her team at Student Group Services (SGS) worked on the event for months, incorporating sustainability into their planning all the way through.

How did you get involved with Student Group Services?

I’m a member of a sorority on campus, Kappa Alpha Theta (it’s one of four sororities on North Campus). So I guess that’s where I got to see the value of being involved in student groups, being on an executive team, and being involved on campus in general. Greek Life tends to be full of over achievers!

When did you decide the Clubs Fair should be a green event?

The Office of Sustainability met with us during our planning phaseto let us know about the new Green Spaces Certification Program. I really looked into it and thought that we would be able to meet most of the goals set out by Green Spaces, so I decided to register for it. We really took it into account in our planning.

Looking through your application, you checked off some ambitious goals. How did you reduce paper?

So instead of giving out paper maps (previously we would print out tonnes of them to help people find their way around the fair) we completely got rid of them. Instead we put the map on large display boards. Just by changing the list of student groups, the display can hopefully be reused next year too.

We also tried portable whiteboards to reduce paper. Our staff gets all kinds of questions from students, and this way we could draw little maps and write information on the whiteboard. They turned into a really valuable resource for us, and we would have used so much paper to do the same work.

We really pushed sending things electronically. All of the information, applications, everything was done online. The info session documents weren’t printed out, they were sent electronically, and the contracts too. We drastically reduced our paper this year.

Your application also says you printed event materials using vegetable-based inks. How did you accomplish that?

I didn’t even know before that you could get different types of ink! That printing was all throughJuke Box in Vancouver and the SU is now ordering most of their business cards through them. It was really cool that the Green Spaces Certification Program got me to look into that, because I would not have known otherwise.

And that was for all of your printing, or just one project?

It was for the “activity cards”, business cards with helpful contact information and questions for the student groups to hand out. The cards have a blank spot to write in the group’s name. That way, instead of printing hundreds for each group, the leftover cards can be used outside of Clubs Fair, and new student groups can use them too.

So how did the Green Spaces Certification Program guide your planning?

Green Spaces was a great way to start because of the checklist: you look at some of those goals and they are things that I never would have imagined could be something to consider.

Smiling woman in office space, banners in background:

What about you—why are you so interested in sustainability?

Student Group Students (SGS) has always been really good with their sustainability initiatives. So since I’ve started working here, I’ve made it my goal to match whatever SGS is doing. In general, as soon as the Office of Sustainability made a suggestion, I decided, yeah! I want to explore more about this.

What do you find rewarding about practicing sustainability?

For me, I think I’m normally practicing sustainability when it’s convenient. But I think that’s a bad attitude to have. I didn’t used to go out of my way to find a composting bin. So now with this deeper awareness of sustainability, I’m trying to incorporate it into my everyday life.

I also think it’s important to bring sustainability into a service at the Students’ Union since the University of Alberta is itself trying to be more sustainable. It’s about setting a good example. Student groups look up to us. I know that since Clubs Fair got Green Spaces certification, at least one student group has already gone and gotten certified. So it’s really cool that they have already started that on their own.

What did you learn from the experience?

It made me more aware of different things that you can do to be sustainable. It’s not just recycling or printing double-sided or using reusable containers. It’s also the type of ink you’re using, and it means encouraging others to be sustainable as well. I may already be recycling and composting, but there’s always more I can do.

To follow in Chelsea's footsteps, apply to the Green Spaces Certification Program for your next event or conference.