Greek Life has a dominant presence on Tulane’s campus with about 40% of its students joining a sorority or fraternity. A major tradition in the Greek Life community is Big Sister-Little Sister reveal. In this fun build-up to the reveal of a ‘Big’, the upperclassmen girls shower new members with gift baskets and ornate decorations. Usually there are about 3 days of baskets full of snacks and gifts that a sorority ‘Big’ gives to her ‘Little’. These goodies oftentimes include snacks such as chips, ramen, sodas, and cookies. Although this is a very exciting tradition for girls in sororities, it does have some negative environmental impacts.
There are some ways that this tradition can be upheld without these negative effects. As opposed to giving Littles single-use, individually-wrapped snacks, it is better to give more permanent or environmentally-friendly gifts. Essential items and other gifts such as room decorations can be kept for a long period of time and are reusable. In contrast, single-use snacks are immediately thrown away and the wrappers produce a lot of plastic and aluminum waste.
Other more sustainable gift options include homemade baked goods rather than plastic-wrapped snacks. Another alternative is customized water bottles or Hydroflasks, which prevent the future use of plastic water bottles and cups. Similarly, waste can be reduced by creating DIY decorations out of recycled materials. For example, plastic or aluminum confetti can be replaced with biodegradable confetti and DIY piñatas can be created from old cardboard and confetti. Options such as these reduce future waste and find creative new ways to repurpose old materials. A great tradition currently included in the Big-Little reveal is passing down old t-shirts from previous sorority events and generations of sorority families.
If more sustainable traditions such as these are implemented into Greek Life and Big-Little reveal, students can individually reduce their contributions to plastic waste.