News at Princeton

Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

Multimedia: Featured

Outdoor Action Sustainability Initiative


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Students at an Outdoor Action rock climb discuss learning about sustainability in the wilderness as members of the first "eco-trip."
Read story.


Video Closed Captions

Emily Sung:
Try and make your way more to the left, okay? Yes. Nice, nice.

Robert McGibbon:
I'm Robert McGibbon. I'm a sophomore and I'm climbing support for
Outdoor Action at the Delaware Water Gap.

Robert McGibbon:
As each of the four climbing frosh trips move through I'm here
to help out, belay, set up. So very soon the groups should be arriving,

Robert McGibbon:
at which point one of the leaders and I will go walk up to the top of the cliff
and set up the ropes. The freshmen and maybe the leaders and I will

Robert McGibbon:
climb a little bit, until we're hungry. Then at whatever point we
feel like, we'll have some lunch.

Emily Sung:
Well, this whole sustainability thing is pretty new for OA. This is the first
year we've done it.

Emily Sung:
The point of OA is still, even on this trip and the other sustainability trip, is
still to get the frosh out in the woods,

Emily Sung:
have a good time, meet some people before they get to Princeton, and just
have a good experience.

Emily Sung:
The whole sustainability thing is sort of secondary to that, and it's woven
into the everyday activities that we do and the meals that we eat.

Emily Sung:
For instance some of the meals this year are a little different from last year.
Such as: we mixed in some salmon, wild-caught salmon, with tuna.

Emily Sung:
Some of the packs are made out of recycled soda bottles, some of the
sleeping bags are made out of post-consumer waste. Things like that.

Emily Sung:
We're not trying to wrap these kids into joining "Greening Princeton" or other
environmental groups on campus.

Emily Sung:
We really just want them to think a little bit more about their relationship
with the environment.

Emily Sung:
Let's say we're sitting down and we're eating a meal that was grown locally or produced locally.

Emily Sung:
Then we might sit down and have a little conversation about it.

Clay Puryear:
We've made baby steps this year through our research and our summer
internships, and with continued vigilance and attention to changing the

Clay Puryear:
environment and economic situation we can continue to make strides
toward making OA have the least impact possible.

Emily Sung:
It's easy to say to people, that if they follow only a vegetarian diet, then
their impact on the environment will be lessened.

Emily Sung:
That's not a very difficult fact to get across. What is difficult is to get people to change their habits, and to say "OK, I understand that fact,

Emily Sung:
and as a result I'm going to only eat meat once a week, or maybe twice a
week, or maybe not at all."

Julia Rees:
I'm Julia, I'm from Bethesda, Md., a little suburb right outside of
Washington, D.C. I'm clearly a rising freshman at Princeton.

Julia Rees:
It's so great to feel like I can fend for myself out here. I love that we aren't
generating very much trash. I love that I'm not driving my car around.

Julia Rees:
It's a great way to start. We've actually been talking a lot about
sustainability. I think, from what I've gathered, the

Julia Rees:
OA trips in the past have been focused on just packing out the trash. More
like relocating the trash, like we wouldn't leave it in the wilderness,

Julia Rees:
we'd just put it in a dumpster back at school. Whereas on this trip, we're
trying to just not generate that trash in the first place.

George Che:
My name is George Che. I'm from Walden, Mass. I didn't really
know much about living in the woods without impacting the environment.

George Che:
Like, I didn't really know about how to reduce trash and things like that.

Emily Sung:
We've instructed leaders to separate all their waste into a number of
different categories, and the reason we need to separate these is

Emily Sung:
because the first group of food waste, which is vegetable and fruit matter,
can be composted. The rest of the food is going to a pig bucket.

Emily Sung:
The other waste, miscellaneous wrappers and things, are going to a landfill,
and that is the ultimate destination that we are trying to avoid.

Julia Rees:
I think that having seen just how much transportation goes into the
packaging, and catching, packaging, processing food,

Julia Rees:
I'm going to be a lot more careful in my own life. I'm really going to take
that with me.

George Che:
I think this has really opened my eyes to how much we impact the
environment, and, going back home, I think I'm definitely going to

George Che:
not drive my car so much, and use more natural transportation such as
walking or biking or things like that. And I'll definitely recycle more.

Julia Rees:
This just really puts everything in perspective. I know I'm going to
appreciate everything a lot more when I get back to school.

Emily Sung:
We obviously want to decrease OA's carbon footprint as much as we can.
But there is also another component, which is the educational value

Emily Sung:
of making a couple of changes, doing a lot of research, being able to tell
freshman and leaders that this is something OA really wants to work for.

Emily Sung:
This is something we are trying to figure out even if we run into a lot of
dead ends.

Emily Sung:
And hopefully all the people that OA comes in contact with will come away with a different attitude towards the environment.

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