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Greening the O’ Camps!

O’ Camps are fun and bring joy to welcome new students. However, according to a survey conducted by Friends of the Earth (FOE) last year, more than 90 percent of the interviewees noticed a significant amount of waste generated during the O’ Camp period. To address this, HKUST has partnered with FOE for the second year to facilitate the Green! O Camp Project to encourage student societies to follow suggested green actions to increase recycling and reduce waste.

The activity theme of 2015 was "Green Bottle O Camp" which asked organizers to refill their own water bottles to reduce bottled water consumption. Seven HKUST student societies signed up for the project this year to compete with other societies around Hong Kong. HKUST societies included Endeavour, House V Students' Association, Drama Society, the Band Society, Yo-hoo club, the University Choir, as well as Nature Club and EVSS – the winners of the gold and silver awards last summer. All competing teams have submitted their checklists to FOE, and the winners will be announced in October.

Even with the reduction of wastes in the O’ Camps, the end of the O’ Camps inevitably results in a surplus pile of perfectly good and usable souvenirs. In the past many of these materials ended up in the trash, but teaming with Student Housing & Residential Life Office, UST Connect Program and SAO, the Sustainability Unit held a Surplus Materials Recycling activity to recapture these good materials and bring them to a new home. By placing collection boxes in hall lobbies and student common rooms during O’ Camp period, freshmen were encouraged to give away any unwanted souvenirs from gift pack such as packaged food, toothbrushes, bathing items and stationeries which were donated to charity and Connect program overseas service learning trips for those in need. This year, over 1910 items of packaged food, stationeries, bathing items, O' Camp tees and gifts, 78 kg of folders and societies line paper, together with 147 kg of recyclable paper materials were received for donation and recycling. The activity also challenged O’ Camp student organizers as to whether they can smartly reduce waste at the source by refusing the unwanted items from sponsors. We hope the sustainability concepts and practices can become part of a green lifestyle for freshmen as they begin the journey of the next four years at HKUST.