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Editorial: making Princeton more sustainable

The Editorial Board is an independent body and decides its opinions separately from the regular staff and editors of The Daily Princetonian. The Board answers only to its Co-Chairs, the Opinion Editor, and the Editor-in-Chief. It can be reached at

Princeton has taken great measures to create and bolster an environmentally sustainable campus. The Office of Sustainability outlines many of the University’s sustainability practices in the Campus Systems Guide, dividing initiatives into seven categories: buildings, energy, food, landscape, transportation, water, and waste. Given the celebration of Earth Day this past Saturday, the Board finds it appropriate to commend the University on its successful sustainability measures and to propose some campus-wide recommendations for future implementation.


First, the Board urges each eating club to compost food waste and emulate the best practices of the University related to sustainable food purchases. The University highlights its compost program in the Campus Systems Guide, which requires compost bins in all dining halls and graduate apartment complexes. Knowing that over half of any given class will likely join an eating club as an upperclassman, efforts to maintain a sustainable campus must be extended to the eating clubs as well. Additionally, the Board urges eating clubs to follow the lead of the University and intentionally purchase food in a sustainable manner. The University claims that “over 60% of all food purchases are local, organic, fair trade, socially responsible, humanely treated, or sustainable.” The Board commends these efforts and encourages any eating club not currently following these practices to follow suit.

Numerous students fill their reusable water bottles at the various water-filling stations across campus, but the Board believes that there is still room for expansion, primarily by adding more filling stations in upperclassmen housing and other areas currently lacking them. Furthermore, we recommend that the University invest in water bottle-washing stations in dining halls. Clean water is essential, but so are clean bottles used to consume it. While many students may have a plastic bottle, access to soap and a means to semi-regularly clean the bottle is much less accessible. We find the investment worthwhile, as it would further incentivise students to carry water bottles and ensure greater campus sanitation and health.

Every year, 13 billion tons of paper towels are used (over 45 lbs per person). Given that these paper towels are not recycled or reused, this composes a major form of waste. Moreover, with average use, a hand dryer could cost the University less money in comparison to the current use of paper towels. Given the environmental and financial incentives, we urge the University to move toward the use of hand dryers in bathrooms.

In conclusion, in light of Earth Day, the Board encourages the entire student body to be more conscious of on-campus littering. Given the warmer weather and the shift of events, parties, and pregames to the outdoors, we urge the campus community to use recycling bins for cups and bottles whenever possible, keeping in mind that a clean campus is not only a more sustainable one, but one that is also more aesthetically pleasing to prospective students, tourists, and our fellow classmates.

Allison Berger ’18, Jacob Berman ’20, Jack Whelan ’19, and Paul Draper ’18 abstained from the writing of this editorial.

Connor Pfeiffer ’18 recused himself from the writing of this editorial.