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Getting your hands green: The Chronicle’s guide to campus, local sustainable organizations

Sustainable Duke
Sustainable Duke

As we close out our first month of the semester, you may have a laundry list of tasks to complete. One of those things that may be looming in the back of your mind is finding ways to do your environmental part. If you’re looking for opportunities to help the environment, there are a variety of green organizations to join on and off campus. 

At Duke

Undergraduate Environmental Union

If you’re in search of the University’s hub for environmental programming, action and collaboration, this is it. While the Union is campus-centered, it also acts as a liaison with larger Durham community members and even neighboring institutions. The Union’s website is interactive and provides a variety of ways to get involved, from something as small as signing the petition to add an environmental literacy course requirement to Duke’s undergraduate curriculum, to something as big as enrolling in the newly created Climate Justice & Global Intersectionality house course. The Union also serves as an umbrella committee for many of the environmental groups on campus.

Green Devils

The Green Devils program is a year-long commitment consisting of biweekly meetings, partaking in independent and collaborative projects and attending social events. Green Devil trainees lead the Green Dorm Room Certification program on East Campus in the fall and run their own projects while growing as sustainability leaders. Meanwhile, Green Devil interns participate in programming and volunteering, take the lead on project reporting and foster individual and group projects. 

DSG Services and Sustainability Committee

Duke Student Government’s Services and Sustainability Committee pledges to prioritize sustainability throughout all aspects of Duke life by proposing policy changes. You don’t have to be on DSG to get involved with a sustainability project. The committee welcomes any and all students who are looking to collaborate on environmental action and policy projects. Here, you can see current projects as well as the committee senators to contact. 

Earthy Duke

Ever wondered how you could channel your creativity into helping the environment? Earthy Creations, a student-run startup founded at Duke, is a platform that makes and sells upcycled art in an attempt to practice both creativity and sustainability. Earthy Duke President Beatrice Kleeger, a sophomore, explains why Earthy is unique from other environmental groups on campus: “We are not just a group that works to be more sustainable, but we work to create a community that’s close-knit which I find is helpful in fostering creativity and passion.” 

The group is always looking for new artists who are eager to reimagine everyday things into beautiful creations. Kleeger has realized the importance of “seeing value in items that are being reused as having a complex history that can create more dynamic art.” 


If you’re looking to explore the Durham community, there are some green organizations you should consider.

Don’t Waste Durham

Don’t Waste Durham’s main focus is reducing plastic waste and switching to reusables in a holistic way. Olivia Polemeni, a junior studying biology and marine science and conservation, first got connected with the organization when founder and CEO Crystal Dreisbach came to speak to her Bass Connections research project group. Polemeni was involved this summer as a full-time intern handling communications. She also got involved with the Green to Go initiative, which provides reusable boxes to reduce take-out waste. Polemeni said that the reason she decided to join Don’t Waste Durham was because she is “interested in research when it comes to the environment, but wanted a chance to see what the application of that research looks like.” 

Keep Durham Beautiful

As part of the Durham Environmental Coalition, Keep Durham Beautiful works to build and maintain clean spaces. The nonprofit focuses specifically on litter prevention, recycling and waste reduction, community greening and bridging the equity gap between Durham’s environmental groups. Upcoming events can be found here.


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