Editorial: Progress on Sustainability
(**The following article is by the Daily Princetonian Editorial Board, found in The Daily Princetonian.
Click here to see the original article.**)
"Since the University adopted its Sustainability Plan in 2008, the Office of Sustainability and numerous student groups have strived to ensure that Princeton is a national leader in institutional environmental awareness. In terms of reducing both energy use and waste, the University and its students have made great progress. Similarly, there has been a significant attempt to educate the community and convey messages of environmental awareness. While there is much to be commended, there is still room for several easy, low-cost changes that could have a big impact on the University community’s use of resources.
Several policies that were initially controversial have had substantial impacts on consumption with minimal negative consequences for students. Although many doubted both the efficacy and fairness of the new printing quota, behaviors have definitely changed, with little complaint from students. The 17 percent reduction in paper consumption since last October, though falling short of the Office of Information Technology’s goal of a 20 percent reduction, demonstrates that a policy based largely on creating awareness of personal consumption can succeed at changing behaviors. Likewise, tray-less dining, which has been carefully phased in over two years, has reduced consumption, waste and costs without making residential college dining significantly less convenient.
In addition to individual-level initiatives, the University has also made a number of environmentally conscious decisions with its facilities. Dual-flush toilets and front-loading washing machines have large cumulative impacts when aggregated across the University. Green building practices, used in the construction of Butler College and the new Frick Chemistry Laboratory, have mitigated the structures’ environmental impacts.
Despite the progress made toward increased sustainability, there is still much work to be done. The University should continue to consider small-scale green initiatives while ensuring that future renovations are as environmentally friendly as recent new construction. Following successful policies in several states and other countries, Dining Services should look into implementing a nominal fee for plastic bags at Frist Campus Center, in order to encourage students to purchase reusable bags. Similarly, the University should reduce the availability of bottled water on campus – while increasing the availability of filtered tap water – to promote the use of reusable cups and water bottles.
As the University moves forward on its sustainability initiatives, members of the campus community must continue to find ways to reduce their own environmental impact. Students, especially, should follow the examples of their peers who have led efforts to make Princeton greener. One obvious way for student leaders to have a major impact is for the eating clubs to arrange jointly and with the University for the sustainable disposal of food waste. While University policies have significant impacts on campus sustainability, it rests on everyone to make changes that are becoming ever more important."