ReThink Your Footprint Campaign at Penn Succeeds in Reducing Landfill Waste

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Media Contact:Amanda Mott | ammott@upenn.edu | 215-898-1422December 20, 2013

When it comes to waste minimization, less is more.

By this equation, the University of Pennsylvania’s three-week campaign, ReThink Your Footprint, was a success. Running from Nov. 4 to 22, the campaign sponsored by Penn’s Green Campus Partnership worked to educate and inform the University community about reducing landfill waste through recycling and composting efforts, as well as by encouraging sustainable practices such as using reusable water bottles and looking at ways to reduce office printing.

As far as waste minimization goes, the biggest loser — a good thing — was QuakerFest, the alumni picnic held before the Homecoming football game. Green Campus Partnership staff and volunteers worked with Alumni Relations to make the event zero-waste, an event where at least 90 percent of event waste is diverted from landfills. By using compostable service ware and flatware and sorting trash into bins for recyclable and compostable waste, QuakerFest’s 1,400 participants were able to divert more than 600 pounds of the 639.5 pounds of trash they generated to a mere 37 pounds headed for the landfill.

“A campaign like ReThink Your Footprint, is about raising awareness,” said Dan Garofalo, Penn’s sustainability director. “Our goal is to encourage people to change the way they live and work in order to support a more sustainable environment. Zero-waste events like QuakerFest produce an immediate impact and show how recycling and composting is an effective tool in reducing the amount of trash going to landfills. The take away is that collectively and as individuals we can really make a difference on our ecological footprint.”

During the campaign, the Wharton School also hosted zero-waste events, diverting another 300 pounds of waste from reaching a landfill. Other happenings included a mini-bin challenge led by student Eco Reps, waste audits and zero-waste events held at College Houses and awareness around the print-reduction program hosted by Penn Purchasing Services and being piloted in the School of Veterinary Medicine, School of Dental Medicine, Annenberg School for Communication, University Lab Animal Resources and the Chemistry Department in the School of Arts and Sciences.

Additional information from Dan Garofalo, Penn’s sustainability director and learn more about Penn’s Green Campus Partnership and the ReThink Your Footprint Campaign: (Video)

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