Throughout the month of November, Penn is encouraging faculty, staff, and students not just to recycle their coffee cups, but switch to reusable mugs as part of a campus-wide waste minimization awareness campaign.
Running through Friday, Nov. 21, the second annual “ReThink Your Footprint” campaign, spearheaded by Penn’s Green Campus Partnership, aims to increase campus chatter about source reduction and reuse with the ultimate goal of diverting University waste from landfills.
“This campaign is not just about recycling—it’s a waste minimization campaign, and it’s about finding ways to create the biggest impact you can,” says Environmental Sustainability Director Dan Garofalo. “We want to develop a culture where anything that is used once and thrown away is the exception, not the norm.”
As part of the three-week campaign, the Green Campus Partnership recommends small but significant changes that can be made on the individual or departmental level.
Suggestions include small personal tweaks like carrying a reusable water bottle, taking advantage of double-sided printing, and composting at campus locations such as 1920 Commons and Joe’s Café. New to “ReThink Your Footprint” this year is a weekly e-waste recycling drive, which is held at various locations each Thursday during the campaign.
“The engaged community at Penn has become more familiar with recycling, but there are sometimes items that aren’t as straightforward to recycle,” Garofalo says. “We wanted to give people the opportunity to safely recycle all their old electronics in one stop.”
Offices and departments are also encouraged to host zero-waste meetings and events by using reusable materials such as cups, plates, and flatware, or by using a catering service that offers a compostable service package.
The Green Campus Partnership encourages departments to participate in their own “Mini Bin Challenges” by replacing regular-size trashcans at desks with miniature garbage bins, prompting individuals to think critically about personal consumption and disposal habits.
“We’re not only trying to prompt end-of-use decisions—we’re trying to prompt source reduction to begin with,” says Sustainability Strategic Planning Associate Sarah Fisher. “There are a lot of entry points for people to engage with—whether purchasing, use or reuse, or appropriate disposal—so I think raising all of those avenues for people to think about through this month is also a way to show what else Green Campus Partnership is doing.”
For more information, a listing of “ReThink” Happenings, and ways to get involved with the campaign, visit the Green Campus Partnership website.