Gauchos Go Green, formerly known as “Greeks Go Green,” is an organization that seeks to foster sustainability and promote environmental action within the Isla Vista (I.V.) community, or, as Lainey Bloom, fourth-year member of Gauchos Go Green in the Education Committee put it in an interview with The Bottom Line (TBL), “To help make scary [environmental] issues less scary.” Through fundraising, social and clean-up events, and more, Gauchos Go Green is spreading the word about taking care of the environment and showing students how they can do their part.
Previously named “Greeks Go Green,” the organization appeared confusing for many in the UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) and the I.V. Community. According to Bloom, there have been many times when people on the UCSB campus have desired to join the environmental sustainability club but have been somewhat deterred by the word “Greek.” This was simply because they were unsure if they were allowed to join if they were not a part of Greek life on campus.
“The club was always made to be for the broader people of Isla Vista,” Bloom told TBL. “But a name is everything, so even if we explained that anyone could join, they would be disinterested.”
When the club originated, the goal was to focus on the houses that were lived in by the students in the Greek life community of I.V. Some of these Greek chapter houses hold more than 40 residents and, to this organization, felt like a great place to start to make a change. The committee within Gauchos Go Green that focuses on helping these houses become more environmentally friendly, Green Certification, monitors the waste, water usage, and electricity uses of different sororities and fraternities, aiming to lower these usages and wastes. Working with sustainability professionals, they help monitor and support their shift to become eco-friendly. Bloom explained to TBL that once the criteria of the California Green Business Association are met and changes are implemented, the committee helps facilitate the Greek life chapter houses’ applications for green certification. Making a difference in these houses is where it all began.
“It’s numbers,” said Bloom, explaining how much change can occur by helping just one of these houses. “Numbers are power, and the Greek community has had the numbers and people that populate large houses.”
Since then, Gauchos Go Green has broadened its scope, creating new committees and goals that relate to the general I.V. community. The organization now is home to eight committees: water, energy, waste, education, marketing, community outreach, events, and Green Certification. Gauchos Go Green facilitates beach clean-ups, gardening events, compost days, clothing drives, and more, all with the hope that they can help make lasting impacts on I.V. As a member of the education committee, Bloom explained that she and the rest of her committee were working toward a goal of a “Sustainability Week,” in which they give daily goals for students to help them strive toward living more sustainably. Bloom’s committee’s goal is to spread awareness to students about the risks of environmental downfall and to offer alternatives that will help to positively impact not only I.V., but the planet as well.
“Environmental activism is super important,” said Bloom. “I think that banding together with like-minded individuals, especially in student environments, is super impactful for making changes in a community and having support.”
The push for the name change had been a hot topic of discussion for a while, though it became more serious during UCSB’s past spring quarter in 2023. Many of the members of the club had never been or were no longer a part of Greek life at UCSB.
However, changing the name of a well-known organization is not always easy. The organization had to consider how all their previous merchandise and social media platforms bore the name “Greeks Go Green,” while also ensuring they could get the word out to students or members to inform them of the new title they would be located under.
Despite these challenges, the new name had been cemented by the start of the fall 2023 quarter. With this rebranding comes the emphasis that anyone who is a part of the UCSB and I.V. community can be a part of Gauchos Go Green.
Now more than ever, it is time to make a difference, and Gauchos Go Green is doing just that.
If you want to be a part of making a difference in the environmental sustainability of the I.V. community and the world, join Gauchos Go Green today! For more information on joining or about their upcoming events, socials, or clean-ups, you can visit their website or their Instagram!