A new Wits society aims to make green issues hip and stylish.

Generation Earth – Wits Council will launch at Wits on Saturday, March 3 as part of a green awareness initiative.

The non-governmental organisation, which began 18 months ago, has already been successful in schools around South Africa.

“We want to take the look of a hippie and turn it on its head,” said Michael Constantinides, the Wits Generation Earth president.

“Hippies are cool, but stylish hippies are even cooler. We want to show that being green is cool. Being green rocks.”

The society’s main aim was to raise awareness about environmental issues faced by youth, and to serve as a green networking platform, he said.

They would lobby Wits to create greener campus infrastructures by, for example, being “the eyes and ears” of Oricol Environmental Services, Wits’ new recycling company.

As a “student voice”, they would make sure recycling bins did not overflow, and the recycling infrastructure was stable.

Constantinides, a 2nd year architecture student, was also prompted to highlight green issues by the destruction of trees to make way for new building extensions.

“They’re building a new John Moffat extension and they cut down so many tree. Two huge trees have been cut down, which is a big problem at Wits.”

Fewer trees created social issues after shady spots for student socialising became limited.

“It’s not for a specific demographic. It’s for everyone,” said Constantinides.

He said many people did not know how to be green. The society would help its members to adapt to a greener lifestyle specific to their needs. As the only green society at Wits, Generation Earth wanted to teach people how green and social issues like eco-refugees, food shortage and climate change interacted with each other.

Constantanides said the society received funding from the R80 membership fee and its head office.