‘Big Blue Goes Green’ highlights sustainability

By Kellie Oates

UK clubs and organizations focusing on sustainability gathered Wednesday to provide food for thought – figuratively and literally.

The event, Big Blue Goes Green, is UK’s fifth annual showcase of sustainability-related initiatives, according to the UK sustainability website.

“Big Blue Goes Green is our one opportunity a year to get all sustainability focused groups under one roof,” said Shane Tedder, UK sustainability coordinator. “These are people in research programs, degree programs and student run organizations who are all here to show how they’re promoting sustainability.”

The Office of Sustainability, the Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment, the Center for Applied Energy Research, Student Affairs and the Student Sustainability Council all had a role in making this event happen, Tedder said.

“The Council administers the Environmental Stewardship fee, which allows us to promote the theory, practice and reality of sustainability on UK’s campus in an effort to advance the student experience,” said Russell Williamson, Student Sustainability Council president.

One of the things the SSC has funded is “YERT,” a documentary directed by Louisville resident Mark Evans.

The film follows three environmental activists, Evans included, as they go across 50 states on a year-long environmental excursion.

The film premiered Wednesday in the Worsham Theater.

Available to guests at the event was a free, zero-waste, Kentucky Proud lunch.

The locally grown food was served on china dinner plates and the drinks were in glass containers to avoid using disposables.

More than 40 booths were set up all around the Student Center Grand Ballroom where representatives provided people with information on their subject of expertise.

Handouts were offered, to highten awareness from everything regarding sustainable agriculture and sustainable architecture to awareness of cigarette butts being non-biodegradable.

The Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Working Group promoted First Fridays, an event held on the first Friday of every month.

First Friday’s offer free local breakfast and different speakers to talk about rural agriculture, said Lee Meyer, a professor in the College of Agriculture.

Eric Hope, a natural resource and environmental science junior, came to the event because it involved ideologies he’s passionate about.

“I’m here to see what’s going on in other areas of agriculture that aren’t apart of my major,” Hope said. “I’m interested to see their impact on making this campus more sustainable.”

Other students, like forensic science freshman Kendra Hardin, weren’t there by personal choice, but ended up leaving with new perspectives.

“I had to come for my UK 101 class, and I heard I could get a free water bottle,”

Hardin said. “But after coming I now know about some really cool events, like the denim drive.”

Hardin said she wouldn’t have known about such events otherwise.

Ron Taylor, the environmental affairs compliance manager, ran a booth to explain the dangers of illicit discharge in stormwater.

“Our main goal is to try and make sure illicit discharge, which is anything that is not stormwater, such as wash water from vehicles, oil products or mop and floor wax, doesn’t get into our sewer systems,” Taylor said.

Kim Browning, a local Fair Trade advocate, was there to express her sentiments about making UK a Fair Trade University.

“I’ve found out by being here today that a lot of students don’t know what Fair Trade is,” Browning said.

“But once I explained it, they all wanted to support the cause.”

The Violence Intervention Prevention  group had a table set up to advocate a violence free community. They gave out “Green Dot” buttons, which according to their flyers, “symbolizes a moment in time that can be used to end perpetration and support victims of violence while increasing campus safety.”

Big Blue Goes Green shows students how to make sustainable strides so they can avoid leaving carbon footprints.

All of the representatives were excited about their causes and the progress that has been made.

“We’re here to show there is more than one way to go green,” said Sally Evans, the prevention program coordinator.

Many of the booths offered options for volunteer work and information on group meetings.

For more information on some of the booths at Big Blue Goes Green visit: