The Office of Sustainability hopes to sign 10 percent of Temple’s population.
When the Office of Sustainability launched its Sustainability Pledge in November, its goal was 3,000 signatures by Earth Day. As April 22 nears, the pledge has 4,012 signatures at time of press and has upped its goal to 4,500, or approximately 10 percent of Temple’s total population, by Friday.
The Sustainability Pledge asks students, faculty and staff to commit to making changes in their lives that will positively affect the environment, Sustainability Coordinator Kathleen Grady said.
“We launched the Sustainability Pledge in November, and when we launched it, what we did was we came up with 10 items that you could select that are really easy items for, what we think are, pretty basic ways that individuals could change their behavior practices to affect the environment in a positive way,” Grady said. “Ways like turning off the lights when you leave the room, taking a more sustainable way to campus through biking, transit or taking the regional rail or buying local or organic foods.”
Since November, the office has tried to get the word out about the pledge by sending out emails, posting it on its website with a thermometer to keep track of signatures and keeping up with the office’s Facebook.
“We also took it from the virtual world to the physical world,” Grady said, adding that the office hosted several outreach campaigns. “We tried to have a physical presence on campus.”
Among its outreach campaigns was a program that partnered with the Computer Recycling Center to offer swap tables, where students could take used office supplies in exchange for signing the Sustainability Pledge.
“Students were able to see the three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle – in practice,” Grady said.
Additionally, Grady said the office promoted the pledge by creating a competition between the schools and colleges.
“We always post the status of which school was doing the best of overall participation rate,” Grady said.
The participation rate was calculated based on the percentage of students voting, not by how many students total voted, to account for the differences in sizes between the schools and colleges on Main Campus. As of April 15, the School of Environmental Design had the highest participation rate at 32.2 percent, followed by the School of Podiatric
Grady added that they try to reach out to schools with lower participation rates.
“We’re able to notice [if] a school doesn’t have a particularly high participation rate, so we reach out to one of our sustainability ambassadors there, and we say, ‘Hey, we noticed that you aren’t having a high number of participants. Do you want us to come do a tabling event there to raise awareness?’”
The Residence Hall Green Team, Students for Environmental Action and Students for Responsible Business have also been involved in tabling events and the Sustainability Pledge’s promotion, Grady said.
“Our student groups are also really pushing the pledge right now in residence halls, so they’re tabling in lobbies to try and get people. [We] need less than 500 in the next week,” Grady said.
Temple Student Government has also encouraged sustainable behavior this year. Student body president-elect and current TSG Senate President Colin Saltry credits SEA for working to get a recycling referendum on this year’s ballots.
While the referendum was not directly in relation to the Sustainability Pledge, Saltry said it is related in promotion of sustainability.
The Office of Sustainability plans to have a table at Spring Fling and hold a Green Block Party on April 21 to celebrate Earth Day, to raise awareness for the pledge and gather more signatures.
After the pledge, Grady said the office plans to follow up with signatures and provide resources to help them follow through on their commitments.
Valerie Rubinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.