EcoReps aim for a cleaner, greener Reunions

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EcoReps at Reunions 2010. (Courtesy EcoReps)

Decked out in neon green T-shirts and carrying placards to match, the handful of undergraduate EcoReps roving around the P-rade last year did not exactly blend into the crowd – and that was the point. By drawing attention, they were able to spread the word about their goal of increasing recycling at Reunions tents and along the P-rade route.

 
“We’re not crashing the party,” EcoReps leader Jennifer Yeh ’12 insisted, with a laugh, when she talked about the glowing shirts and signs. The students work closely with the University’s Office of Sustainability throughout the year, and reducing and recycling waste has been a primary focus of their efforts.
 

For example, the group has headed an effort to collect unopened food, toiletries, and school supplies when students move out in May, passing them on to nonprofit groups instead of allowing them to be tossed in the trash. EcoReps also distributed reusable water bottles to incoming freshmen, to reduce the reliance on disposable bottles.
 
Princeton’s greener side
University sustainability manager Shana Weber and her colleagues are offering a “green tour” of campus, starting Saturday at 10 a.m. on the south lawn of the Frist Campus Center. The tour will include stops at the new Frick Chemistry Laboratory, where a digital dashboard in the lobby displays energy use and conservation; Butler College, home of two of Princeton’s green roofs; and Forbes College, where students have been cultivating an organic garden since 2007.

At Reunions in 2009, EcoReps helped to encourage recycling by pairing separate bins with the trash bins on P-rade route and at Reunions tents. Last year, the University added more recycling containers, and EcoReps crews worked in the tents, collecting cups for recycling at the fifth and 25th reunions. They filled more than 70 garbage bags, which were sent to a recycling center in New Brunswick.

 
Different reunions sites have different types of waste, Yeh said, so EcoReps work with the student crews to help them recycle as much as possible – everything from wine bottles to cardboard packaging. In future years, the group hopes to expand its reach to include food waste as well.

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