Sustainability orientation activities reach thousands of undergraduate and graduate students across all of Harvard's 12 Schools and departments each year. More than 3,000 reusable mugs and water bottles and over 2,000 energy-efficient LED bulbs were distributed across campus these past two weeks.

From sustainability welcome back events to tips and information in official welcome packets, Harvard demonstrates its commitment to creating a sustainable community during welcome back activities. 

Additionally, to ensure that sustainability programs continue beyond orientation, proctors and RA’s at the College, Harvard University Housing, and Harvard Law School receive individualized sustainability training to help them integrate sustainability into their programming throughout the year.

Here is a taste of some of the activities we hosted during opening days. 

Harvard College undergraduate move-in

Expanding on efforts to create a more sustainable campus, the College and the Freshman Dean’s Office, in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ (FAS) Green Program and the Office for Sustainability (OFS), are implementing composting in all 17 freshman dormitories — reaching nearly 1,800 residents. On freshman move-in day our Resource Efficiency Program students or "REPs" were on the plaza educating incoming students on new composting initiatives, handing out free LED bulbs, and sharing ways to get involved with sustainability on campus. 

REP is a peer-to-peer education program based in Harvard's undergraduate Houses and Dorms. REPs educate their peers on issues such as energy, waste, water, food, and more through fun, personal, community-building events, competitions, and campaigns. 

REPs challenged incoming freshman to sort common items into composting, recycling, trash, or e-waste buckets. Participants were rewarded with reusable bags. 

Kelsey Grab, the REP Coordinator, shows off the new freshman dorm composting bins and explains how the program will work. 

Harvard Law School

Harvard Law School's suite of sustainability-related orientation activities and efforts included distributing 337 free LED bulbs to new students moving into dorms, tabling at new student orientation events, and volunteering at the HLS Orientation Food Truck Lunch. Green Living Reps Rebecca Pskowski and Austin Anderson, Program Manager Anne Miller Sargent, and Green Team Leader Carrie Ayers staffed the waste stations at the event helping students place individual waste items in the proper bins. Anne also worked with the Dean of Students Office and the Events Office to make the event as sustainable as possible — the food trucks did their part as well by providing mostly recyclable and compostable materials. 

The 250 new Graduate Program students at HLS and the 565 new first year J.D. students were each greeted at their orientations with a wealth of information on sustainability at HLS and presented with their own "Green is the new crimson" reusable travel mugs. The mugs are union made, produced in the US, do not contain BPA, are recyclable, and are printed with inks and materials that are lead free.

Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School repurposed waste signage used at commencement for their larger orientation event. The Senior Sustainability Coordinator at HBS, Allison Webster, is also busy hiring 10 Student Sustainability Associates. 

Harvard Graduate School of Education

All new students at the Harvard Graduate School of Education received their own reusable bottle at check-in and were welcomed to campus with a variety of events throughout the week including a large freecycle and a mindfulness workshop. 

HGSE hosted another successful freecycle during orientation. 

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Staff from the Office for Sustainability and the Harvard University Center for the Environment talked to new students at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences' Dudley Fest.

Our awesome sustainability volunteers also worked the waste stations at the Welcome Back Harvard Chemistry BBQ. Only one bag of trash, weighing less than three pounds, was accumulated! For an event attended by 400 people we think that's pretty great. 

Harvard Habitat for Humanity Stuff Sale

Reuse was front and center at the annual Harvard Habitat for Humanity Stuff Sale held under the tent on the Science Center Plaza. Hundreds of items that were donated and collected during last spring's move out were sold at discounted prices with all profits benefiting Harvard Habitat for Humanity. 

Freshman Green Fair

The annual Freshman Green Fair was a huge success with over 700 freshman stopping by to enjoy smoothies, pick up and decorate their free reusable mug, and learn more about the various environmental initiatives on campus. Twelve groups were represented at the fair including the Harvard Community Garden, the Environmental Action Committee, the Food Literacy Project, and the Outdoors Club.

Freshman were treated to delicious smoothies in their snazzy new reusable mugs. 

As part of the event, students pledged to use their reusable mug on campus instead of disposable cups. 

Harvard Graduate Commons Welcome Back Bash

Proving that sustainability can be fun and educational, at this year's Harvard Graduate Commons Welcome Back Bash the Harvard University Housing Sustainable Community Program hosted Sustainable Living: Why Not Give a Whoop lawn games to educate the Riverside and Botanic Garden communities about sustainable living. 

Over 1,000 residents attended the Sustainable Living: Why Not Give a Whoop? event. 

The goal was to increase residents; understanding of the Single Stream Recycling System here at Harvard and ways in which they can save energy and resources at their new homes. Over 500 new tenants participated (even the little ones)!

The team ran two sustainability themed lawn games: Energy Cornhole and a Recycling Race. All lawn game participants were rewarded with a delicious whoopie pies and winners received home energy saving devices, reusable bags, and reusable utensils.