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Student Initiatives

Recent expansion in the number and reach of environmental student groups has inspired the formation of the Princeton Environmental Network (PEN). Organized by the Office of Sustainability since 2006, PEN strives to coordinate across the broad span of environmental topics addressed by Princeton's student leaders and groups to effect lasting change on the Princeton campus.

Goals & Progress

  1. Goal: Encourage peer-to-peer collaboration to achieve campuswide student initiatives in sustainability.

  2. Goal: Foster student-run residential college initiatives in sustainability.

    Progress: The recruitment and engagement of undergraduate student ambassadors for recycling and resource conservation in the residential colleges has thrived under the direction of the Office of Sustainability, with continued partnership with Building Services and the student-based Princeton Environmental Network. There are now 25 Eco-Reps, compared to 14 in 2009 and six in 2008.
  3. Goal: Encourage diverse student-generated sustainability services, outreach and events, and maintain a dedicated calendar for those activities.


    • In collaboration with the Alumni Association and Building Services, the Eco-Reps focused recycling efforts at the fifth and 25th Reunion headquarters in 2010, and enhanced recycling efforts at the P-rade with twice as many recycling receptacles as in previous years (see photo in sidebar of Waste Reduction section).
    • During spring 2010, the Eco-Reps launched a pilot residential education program (REP) on sustainability in Rockefeller College with the support of college administrators to educate freshmen. The sustainability REP is now offered on the list of optional programs for all residential colleges in both fall and spring semesters, and should help improve the recruitment of Eco-Reps.
    • Students collaborating through the PEN group launched the third annual Earth Week Extravaganza in 2010, complete with a Green Fashion Competition (see sidebar photo and video), and organized campus events around 350 Day (International Day of Climate Action) and 10/10/10 (Global Work Party for Climate Solutions).
    • Since 2009 the U-Bikes and CycLab co-op programs have organized and/or participated in numerous events, including the Greening Princeton Farmers Market, Sunday CycLab Workshops, the annual campus bicycle safety event and more.
    • Greening Princeton hosted a 5k fundraising run for the local Stonybrook-Millstone Watershed Association.
    • WaterWatch hosted a number of community cleanups in local streams.
    • EnergyCorps, in partnership with NJPIRG, conducted a number of in-home energy audits for local community members.
    • The Princeton Garden Project created and is maintaining a new garden near the Frist Campus Center's South Patio to provide fresh herbs for the center's daily food offerings. This effort is a collaboration between Frist, Dining Services, Grounds and Building Maintenance, and the Office of Sustainability.

What's Next

  • Formalize PEN representation on the Princeton Sustainability Committee, in partnership with the Undergraduate Student Government.
  • Update the Guide to Living Green at Princeton.
  • Offer student-led Campus Green Tours.
  • Investigate the feasibility of transitioning from a CFL bulb exchange program to an LED bulb exchange program.
  • Improve the visibility of PEN initiatives on campus.
  • Encourage the reduction of food waste on campus through student-led pledges and events.
  • Increase student involvement in global/national climate change and sustainability campaigns.
  • Engage students as Sustainability Ambassador trainers in collaboration with the Office of Sustainability.
  • Expand the "Drink Local" educational campaign across campus.
  • Expand community outreach activities, such as student involvement in the biennial campuswide Sustainability Open House.

Kathryn Andersen

"The opportunity to co-found and lead the Greening Princeton Farmers Market was the single most impactful experience of my four years at Princeton. Bringing students, farmers, professors and the town together to enjoy and celebrate local, sustainably produced food both inspired and motivated me to pursue a career in food and agriculture. After witnessing firsthand the importance of local food systems through the market, I went on to apply for and receive a Fulbright Scholarship to study small-scale food systems in Italy through the lens of local cheese. I returned to attend the Harvard Business School, the basis of my application being my starting the farmers market and committing to a career in local agriculture, decisions solidified at Princeton due to my involvement with Greening Princeton and the greater sustainability movement."
—Kathryn Andersen '08


Guide to Living Green at Princeton

The Guide to Living Green at Princeton (.pdf) was produced by the student group Greening Princeton in partnership with the University’s Office of Sustainability.

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Student Environmental Communications Network logo

With support from the High Meadows Foundation, the Student Environmental Communication Network (SECN) has been working to better tell the story of sustainability to a wider audience. Watch and listen to student-produced videos and podcasts.


Greening Princeton Fashion Show

This dress, called "Quintessentially Princeton," was produced using items Princeton students are all too familiar with: senior thesis drafts for the skirt and reused caffeinated beverage containers, boxes and sleeves for the bodice. It was part of a sustainable fashion design contest run by and for students. Watch a video about this event.