Notes from Inaugural Meeting

Our very first ECO meeting was Thursday, Oct 5th! With 9 new members in attendance, our first meeting was a success with intense, fruitful conversation that continued 30 minutes past our scheduled end time.  

Some highlights: 

Thomas started the meeting with introduction to ECO club, which was still just an idea, but with our first meeting, and 9 members, it is becoming more than an idea. The goals of ECO club are to first make OIST greener,  and then make Okinawa greener. In addition, OIST is a great "starter culture" for green practices, as we are all seeds that will take practices from OIST on to our home countries and new institutions where we may work in the future. But change needs to be "adiabatic," that is, we need to institute change slowly and carefully, so that it is a result of a community effort and not being forced upon people. In that same vein, change needs to come from education and information, which is why we want to start with posters, documentaries, and community art projects. 

We aim to keep meetings infrequent and action based. We hope to create working groups to bring specific ideas to reality. ECO club will hopefully be about working together and making OIST greener and less about talking in meetings. Communication will be by email list. If you missed the first meeting, but want to be added to the list, fill in the membership form:

EDITED: Communication is carried out in the ECO slack group. If you would like to join, email Maggi, Thomas, or Julia. 

In the discussion that followed Thomas' introduction, we covered wide and varied topics but it was clear that everyone that was present is motivated and passionate about making OIST more sustainable. While we will target eliminating disposable plastic bags as a first objective, we have many more ideas for the future. Plastic bags are a good starting place because they are so incredibly extraneous - we do not need to use them and not using them is a very small sacrifice. Once we educate the community on the negative impacts of plastic bags, and hopefully reduce their use on campus, we will have begun to make a name for ourselves so that we can tackle bigger more difficult issues. 

Some of the issues brought up included (but were not limited to): reducing paper cup usage at tea time and other events, eliminating distribution of water in plastic bottles to guests and visitors, reducing paper towel usage in bathrooms, eliminating plastic cutlery and disposable chopsticks at Grano, considering our carbon footprint when making travel decisions, sustainable seafood (, sustainable tourism,  "Green Shisa" stamp of approval for environmentally friendly OIST events and local businesses, Recycle Sale to raise money for the club,  greener housing (better insulation, windows) at OIST,  and community tree-planting to make up for trees removed due to OIST construction.

To do: 

  • Organize plastic bag collection bins for Grano and popular lounges around campus for the week of October 16-20. 
  • Decide on community art project for collected bags, dates and location of exhibit. 
  • Recycle Sale: Decide on date, get permissions, collect donations, advertise.
  • Design a logo!!