UK Greenthumb, an environmental activism student club, was founded at the University of Kentucky in 1995. The now 26 year-old organization has made many differences here on campus through its campaigns, student involvement, and community development.
Greenthumb began a campaign in 2004 to implement an environmental stewardship fee at the University, and this plan was put into action in 2009. This campaign originally established a $0.75/semester charge to support the development of renewable energy on campus. The Student Sustainability Council was then created to establish a governance of this fee. The fee has since been raised to $4/semester and has helped fund various sustainability projects over the years, such as the water bottle refilling stations located around campus!
Beginning in 2010, Greenthumb campaigned to push the University to create a Climate Action Plan. Their efforts were successful when in 2018 the University of Kentucky Emissions Reduction Plan was set in place.
In 2020, Greenthumb began working with UK Dining to strengthen and highlight their existing commitments to featuring more sustainable food options in the dining halls. This campaign was put on hold when the University shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Spring 2020. UK Dining has made strides in the meantime, incorporating crops that are a better representation of Kentucky agriculture.
At the end of the Spring 2020 semester, Greenthumb adopted and reframed the Divest UK campaign. That multi-year, student-led effort had already produced greater accessibility to information about UK’s endowment through a collaborative effort to update the University’s Endowment website. Over the course of last year, Greenthumb has worked with key university leaders in Investment, Sustainability and Finance to successfully propose a new course that melds finance and sustainability through the theory and practice of Responsible Investing, a strategy that recognizes the value of Environmental, Social, and Governance factors when selecting stocks for a portfolio. That class, Finance 490 – Responsible Investing: A Student Managed Investment Fund, will be taught for the first time in the fall of 2022.
As we begin to wrap up our Endowment Campaign, plans for the 2021-2022 academic year are now being put into place. With COVID-19 lowering the usual intake of new members, Greenthumb is focused on building up and fostering our community. The club will offer a variety of outings and activities (hikes, planting trees, etc.) that will help create a family environment between our new members through our shared interest in environmentalism.