By Jonathan Okanes
Cal Bear Blog
BERKELEY - Cal’s student-athlete population will converge on Haas Pavilion tonight for The Oskis, the annual end-of-the-year celebration full of honors, camaraderie and fun.
And this year, Cal student-athletes will be lending a hand to the planet in the process.
Led by the efforts of senior swimmer Scott Farley, this year’s edition of the The Oskis is a certified green event by Cal’s Office of Sustainability. Farley, assisted by freshman Nicole Vincelette of the lacrosse team, worked to meet the Office of Sustainability’s requirements to make it officially green. The event had to meet certain prerequisites, and planners had to come up with two innovation points that demonstrate further reduction of the impact The Oskis will have on the environment.
“Having this certification shows that the students in the athletic department are interested in reducing our impact,” said Farley, who Monday received the Neufeld Scholar-Athlete Award given to the graduating senior with the highest cumulative GPA. “Being here for four years, I know there a lot of things that we could do.”
Farley hopes his efforts on The Oskis will inspire other student-athletes to continue to strive for sustainability after he leaves Berkeley, and tonight’s measures should send a clear message. Cal’s Office of Sustainability requires event planners to meet certain standards which will be in place for The Oskis. Among them are that recycling must be provided, guests must be informed about the sustainability measures in place and programs must be printed with at least 30 percent recycled paper.
Farley also had to come up with innovation points of his own choosing, and The Oskis will feature sustainable centerpieces at all the tables, buffet style catering and no single-use plastic water bottles.
Farley and Vincelette will also give a PowerPoint presentation during The Oskis about the sustainability measures that are in place.
“We worked really hard to get this event certified by the office as a green event,” Farley said. “We’ll be focused on what we did for this event, and show how you can help.”
Farley said he comes from an environmentally friendly family and had a summer internship after his freshman year at Cal Tech’s sustainability department in Southern California. Farley is also a member of GBAC – Cal’s student-athlete advisory committee – and was motivated by the fact that GBAC meeting rooms didn’t come equipped with compost bins even though the committee used compostable plateware and silverware.
“That was an issue for me,” Farley said. “We were paying extra for stuff that could be composted and it just ended up going in the landfill.”
The composting issue prompted Farley to e-mail Cal’s Office of Sustainability, which in turn became the genesis of turning The Oskis into a green event.
Farley is graduating later this month but wants his successors to build off the inroads he is making with sustainability.
“I definitely want compost bins in our GBAC meeting rooms, and I think that’s on the way,” he said. “I want this event to be zero waste next year, and I think that’s possible if we plan it in advance and try to get some money to do that. There are a slew of things, and I think that once people realize that other people have done it, it might be easier for other athletes to get involved.”