Ceres is the Netherlands’ most sustainable

Wageningen student association Ceres wins the “Groene Pint” (Green Pint), the sustainability competition for student associations.
The sustainability committee. Photo WSV Ceres

This is the first time Ceres has won the award, says Tim Huurdeman, chair of the Ceres sustainability committee (SusCo).

The Groene Pint works as follows: associations wishing to enter the competition complete a survey on the association’s sustainability, activities, and consumption. A total of 26 associations completed the survey, including Veritas in Utrecht, Unitas in Groningen and the Delft Student Corps. The association with the most points wins the competition. There are also awards for the association that has increased its sustainability most rapidly and the one with the best sustainability initiative. An Urgenda jury selects the winner in the latter category.

According to SusCo-chair Huurdeman, Ceres performs well in various domains. ‘First of all, our members are very committed. They can indicate their interest in joining committees each year, and SusCo is really one of the most popular choices.’ Moreover, Ceres makes a difference in its menu, Huurdeman says. ‘We always offer vegetarian options. That, in itself, is not all that unique, but we have more vegetarians than meat-eaters, and the number of vegetarians is on the rise. That is quite unique for an association. Often, vegetarian dishes are the same as the meat version but with meat substitutes. Not a very attractive option. We put a lot of effort in preparing vegetarian dishes that were designed to be vegetarian.’

Sustainable energy

The association building also contributes to a high ranking. ‘There is a solar array of 104 panels on the roof, which means a large portion of the electricity we use is renewable’, Huurdeman states. ‘The kitchen has recently been remodelled: we no longer use gas for cooking, and our washing machines are sustainable. And, since a few years, we have a beer-cooler that meets high isolation requirements, meaning it uses less power.’

SusCo provides Ceres members with weekly tips on a sustainable lifestyle and organises an annual Sustainability Week. ‘During that week, we offer only a vegetarian menu, and we have a candle-lit dinner one night to raise awareness of our energy consumption. Moreover, we organise a clothing swap.’

Sustainable pints

Huurdeman is happy with the award but still sees room for improvement. In the beer department, for example. ‘In the evenings, we drink our beer from a glass, as it tastes better that way. But during large open parties, however, this is not an option because the glass may cause injuries through breakage. Therefore, we use soft plastic cups during parties. Once the plastic cups end up on the floor, we are no longer permitted to dispose of them in the recycling bin. This waste that cannot be recycled still offers room for improvement.’

Preceding SusCos inventoried the options to shift from single-use soft plastic cups to hard plastic cups that can be used repeatedly, Huurdemans says. ‘Although hard plastic cups last longer, the fact that more plastic is used in each cup probably makes it less sustainable in the end.’

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