HBS Celebrates First Annual Green Week

From April 19-22, HBS hosted its first Green Week, a series of activities aimed at raising environmental awareness throughout the HBS community. Sponsored by the Office of the Dean, the event was jointly organized by the Business and Environment Club and HBS Operations. Several events took place during Green Week, including a talk by Leith Sharp, Founder and Director of the Harvard Green Campus Initiative, an online contest, and a tour of the Shad Solar Panels.

At lunchtime throughout Green Week, an information table was held at the Grille to provide information on sustainable business practices in place at such companies as The Rocky Mountain Institute, Avalon, Seventh Generation, and Kiss my Face. The finale event of the week was Green TGIF where the food was served on biodegradable plates and the beer in reusable cups. Between Battle of the Bands sets, the winners of the Green Week online contest were announced. Jennifer Chen (NB) won a Patagonia Fleece and several others students received environmental books and magazine subscriptions.

Also, the Green Week team organized presentations highlighting on-campus environmental initiatives in each RC section. The presentation described HBS’ recycling efforts and presented some environmental projects under way at the school.

On the waste side, HBS produces 3.8 pounds of trash per community member and per day. In order to reduce this amount, since January, MBA Operations and Restaurant Associates have introduced more reusable plates, silverware and cups throughout the dining facilities. Although this rollout is a success, inventory shrinkage is greatly increasing the economic and environmental cost of the operation. So next time you eat at Spangler, please be careful not to throw away or take home these reusables.

Additionally, a composting program began in February, and new, biodegradable containers and plates were introduced during Green Week. Finally, each RC student who attended the Green Week presentation received a free 20oz coffee mug and will obtain a discount each time they use it (or any reusable mug) to buy coffee. With this new discount, MBA Operations hopes to decrease the use of throwaway Styrofoam cups.

Beyond the HBS campus, the environment will be a source of both threats and opportunities for Harvard Business School students. As future global leaders, HBS graduates will indeed have to address such serious challenges as global warming and the destruction of life-supporting ecosystems (which bring us air and water cleansing, flood and climate control, soil regeneration, crop pollination, food, medicines). At the same time, as business people and entrepreneurs, they will also be able to size huge opportunities in sustainability-related fields such as green building, renewable energy (35% annual growth over the past five years for wind energy in Europe), and organic food (19% US growth since 1997 vs. 3% for total food).

Overall, students were extremely receptive to the Green Week event, and the organization committee is already thinking about ways to reach out to even more HBS community members next year.