Green Ambassadors

Humans are creatures of habit. This seems especially true when it comes to destructive habits, such as not recycling, using too much electricity and other habits that cause extra strain on the environment.  In order to facilitate student-to-student education about these habits, how destructive they are and how to stop them, a new program has been formed at the College called Sustainability Ambassadors.

“We hope (Sustainability Ambassadors) will be successful at educating students because it will feature students talking to students as opposed to just posters on a wall,” said Tarika Mahal, sophomore pre-med major and leader and originator of this President’s Climate Commitment Committee (PC3) initiative.

For six years, PC3, a committee made up of College administrators, faculty and Bonner Center volunteers, has been striving to reduce the College’s carbon footprint. The Sustainability Ambassadors program represents the first PC3 initiative where student will be charged with educating their peers in order to modify their eco-behavior.

“SA was created to better spread PC3 initiatives, but it differs by being more of a grassroots movement, as opposed to an administration mandate,” Mahal said.

A SA meeting last Thursday drew a turnout of 22 student ambassadors. The ambassadors split into groups of three and each group chose a residence hall to concentrate their efforts on.

Mahal has outlined 13 different initiatives she would like ambassadors to focus on, but her top priorities are to make recycling sexy, or advertise it in a way so that most people will like it, to get people to turn off lights in unoccupied rooms and to get people to take shorter showers.

Previously, PC3 has used dorm competitions as a way to motivate students to use less resources, but Mahal is hoping that the SA initiative will improve upon those competitions.

Mahal hopes that ambassadors will be able to communicate with community advisors to help advance the goal of carbon neutrality through creative means, such as using skits during hall meetings and educational talks from ambassadors.

Mahal said that her inspiration for creating the SA group came from a program at Tufts University that her best friend is involved in.

The eco-ambassador program was established at Tufts University in 2007 and is one of the programs that their office of sustainability offers.  The Tuft’s office is staffed with two full time and one part time faulty members and has since made the top 10 greenest schools list for the Sierra club.

An ambassador for Decker Hall, sophomore self-designed environmental economics major, Patrick Dyer said,  “I think it’s important to emulate other schools’ succseful programs. I am really excited to start working with my friends and fellow Decker residents to help minimize our economic impact.  I feel like a personalized message from students will be more effective than hearing the same rhetoric from government agencies.”

The SA program is open to new ambassadors. If interested email Mahal at mahalt1@tcnj.edu.