Friday, March 27, 2009

Going Clubbing: Spring Greening

If you ate dinner in Forbes this Tuesday night, you probably (hopefully) noticed the lack of trays. Perhaps you were even informed by a greeter that by forgoing your all-purpose carrier for the evening, you—willingly or not—were doing your part to significantly reduce the University’s food waste.

Those student greeters are members of Greening Princeton, a group whose trayless dining initiative has been the subject of a surprisingly heated campus debate in recent weeks but whose larger mission is less widely known. To get a more complete understanding of what this club stands for (hint: it’s not just eliminating trays), I sat in on a recent meeting led by co-presidents Brooks Barron ’11 and Carol Dreibelbis ’11.

Greening Princeton’s work, I soon learned, covers a broad spectrum—everything from preserving a local watershed to reducing the waste generated during Reunions—but is united by a desire to increase campus awareness of environmental issues and implement concrete plans aimed at making Princeton a more environmentally sustainable community. When asked what sets their organization apart from other environmental groups on campus, Dreibelbis highlighted Greening Princeton’s work as a “liaison” between students and administrators, noting that, “We work with students, the Office of Sustainability, different departments on campus, Facilities and Grounds people and other administrators in our efforts to make Princeton greener.”

Barron added that the club’s primary focus on local issues and projects specific to campus also distinguishes it from groups with more nationally or internationally oriented agendas. To that end, Greening Princeton has sponsored a campus CFL exchange aimed at distributing more energy-efficient light bulbs, organized various speaker events and panel discussions related to environmental issues and collaborated with Students United for a Responsible Global Environment (SURGE) to run an inter-dorm energy-saving competition.

With a listserv of over four hundred students signed up to receive weekly announcements about relevant environmental events and approximately fifteen regular attendees at their Monday night meetings, Greening Princeton seems prepared to continue making real progress toward the goal stated in their Mission Statement: to promote a healthier relationship between Princeton University and the environment. Currently, says Barron, “We’re working on getting an on-campus composting system for food waste. We’d also like to see improvements in recycling in dorms…as well as put together a ‘How to Live Sustainably at Princeton’ video to present to freshmen during frosh week.”

And as for the oh-so-touchy tray issue? Greening Princeton is undeterred. “I can see how removing trays might seem trivial and excessive at first,” admitted Barron, “but it is a huge, glaring opportunity to seriously reduce Princeton’s environmental impact all over the world.” It seems that students might have to get used to a tray-free world after all.


a_c said...

Why don't they focus on doing things themselves rather than imposing their morality on everyone else?