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Student Initiatives

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

Goal, Strategies & Progress

Goal: Encourage campuswide student initiatives in sustainability.

Strategy: Facilitate peer-to-peer collaboration among environment- and sustainability-focused student clubs and through PEN. 


Since 2006, the Office of Sustainability has coordinated biweekly PEN meetings for all leaders of environmental- and sustainability-focused student clubs and organizations. Representing more than 1,000 Princeton students, groups currently active in PEN include: 

Cross-club collaborations fostered by PEN include:

Strategy: Foster student-run residential college initiatives in sustainability. 


  • The recruitment and engagement of undergraduate student ambassadors for recycling and resource conservation in the residential colleges — the EcoReps — has continued. Under the sponsorship of the Office of Sustainability in partnership with Building Services and the student-based PEN during the past three years, there have been consistently more than a dozen active EcoReps.
  • Student-run residential hall-focused sustainability initiatives have included a water filter carafe sale, end-of-the-year move-out collection sites and subsequent redistribution of unused school supplies, plastic bag collection bins, the Pull the Plug Campaign, and RecycleMania.

Encourage diverse student-generated sustainability services, outreach and events, and maintain a dedicated calendar for those activities. 


  • Building on past efforts to "green" Reunions, in 2011 the EcoReps, in collaboration with the Alumni Association and Building Services, expanded their efforts to promote recycling from two to 11 Reunions sites and developed a pilot program to educate Reunions cleanup crews to further increase recycling rates. The number of recycling receptacles along the P-rade route has also doubled since 2009.
  • During spring 2010, the EcoReps launched a pilot residential education program in Rockefeller College on sustainability with the support of college administrators to educate freshmen. This program continued in 2011. The sustainability residential education program is now offered on the list of optional programs for all residential colleges in both fall and spring semesters.
  • Students collaborating through the PEN group launched the fourth annual Earth Week Fest in 2011 and organized campus events around 350 Day (International Day of Climate Action).
  • 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 the FNA 2K11, a mini-bike race to raise awareness of bicycling as a green form of transportation.
  • Greening Princeton hosted its third annual 5k fundraising run for the local Stonybrook-Millstone Watershed Association. The 2010 race raised more than $600 for the watershed association.
  • The Energy Service Corps student group, in partnership with New Jersey Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG), conducted a number of in-home energy audits for local community members.
  • The Princeton Garden Project continues to provide fresh herbs and produce to Dining Services from three gardens on campus: one near Frist Campus Center and two near Forbes College.
  • The Food Justice Foundation, a new nonprofit started by Princeton students to address problems of food access in the inner city, led a panel on "Food Access and Health in the Urban Context" in partnership with the Pace Center for Civic Engagement.
  • The Office of Sustainability hosts the University's only centralized public calendar for all sustainability-related meetings and events, including student organization meeting times.
  • In spring 2011, SURGE led its second student delegation to Power Shift, a clean energy conference in Washington, D.C. About 50 student leaders participated in both the 2009 and 2011 trips.
  • The Environmental Discourses on the Ingestion of Bugs League (EDIBL) held two dinners in the 2010-11 academic year. The initiative, founded in April 2010, strives to create awareness about alternative sustainable food systems through intimate dinner events that challenge culturally accepted notions of taboo foods, and by educating people about the critical role that insects play in food systems globally.

What's Next

  • Publicize PEN meetings and sustainability events through the sustainability kiosk to be installed in Frist Campus Center in 2011-12.
  • Conduct the University's first LED bulb exchange program for students. 
  • 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.
  • Explore new common student advertising/promotional spaces as an alternative to postering on campus to reduce waste.
  • Update the Guide to Living Green at Princeton.
  • Develop a venue for students to present their initiatives and research using the campus as a laboratory for sustainability problem-solving.
  • Expand community outreach activities, such as student involvement in the biennial campuswide Sustainability Open House. 
  • Offer student-led Campus Green Tours.

Sustain Clubs

Student environmental clubs and organizations are essential partners in the University's ongoing Sustainability Plan. Watch a video about the students involved in Princeton's sustainability efforts.


“Princeton University has instituted many green initiatives, and Reunions provides a great opportunity to connect with alumni about the positive impact they can have on the environment. Our team of EcoReps has facilitated Reunions recycling through education as well as providing more receptacles and clearer labeling at an increasing number of sites over the past few years.”
—Jennifer Yeh, Class of 2012, EcoReps co-president

Watch a video about the recycling efforts at Princeton's Reunions.


"Interning with the Garden Project has given me a whole new appreciation for growing your own produce.  It is not that difficult, and the payback is enormous; you get fresher food, save money and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from 'food miles.' I think it is great that Dining Services takes full advantage of these benefits and incorporates vegetables and herbs grown right here on campus into our meals."
Abby Hewitt, Class of 2013, shown here at the herb garden near the Frist Campus Center

"I have been helping to grow and establish the U-Bikes program on campus since the spring of my freshman year. Along with learning how to achieve long-term project goals, being a co-manager of U-Bikes has taught me about the importance of organization and communication between members of the team as well as participants in the program."
—Mars Jullian, Class of 2013, co-manager of U-Bikes

"Alice Waters' visit to campus was a very meaningful moment for the Princeton Garden Project. She validated — both in her official lecture and in her informal conversation with us at the project's luncheon — the importance of our mission to provide a real farm to fork experience on the Princeton campus."
Eva Wash, Class of 2013