It’s Easy Being Green: The Green Living Program at Harvard Law


Recycling is the law in Cambridge. That should be all the incentive law students need to drop their cans, bottles, paper, and cardboard into the proper bins. For many it’s probably not, and so Harvard University has created another: the Graduate Green Living Program, dedicated to spreading information and encouraging sustainable living in the dorms. This includes not only pushing for an increase in recycling, but also addressing a wide variety of behaviors that impact the environment.

The Graduate Green Living Program (GGLP) is a spin-off of a similar, highly successful undergraduate program coordinated by the Harvard Green Campus Initiative as another step towards implementing Harvard’s Campus-wide Sustainability Principles (see for the list and more information). The Harvard Business School dorms as well as the Soldiers Field Park, One Western Ave., and Peabody Terrace apartment complexes are also participating in this inaugural year of the GGLP. Representatives from each dorm/complex work as a team to create and implement campaigns that focus on important issues such as recycling, heating, electricity use, and water use. They also meet with facilities managers to gain insight on the inner workings of the dorms and brainstorm ways to increase conservation behaviors and efficiency in the dorms.

The GGLP focuses on changing the behavior of dorm residents by making information available in a variety of ways and emphasizing the incentives involved in sustainable behaviors. For example, recycling is not only beneficial to the environment, but it actually saves Harvard a ton of money (which eventually could trickle down to tuition bills). Harvard currently ships its trash all the way to South Carolina, which gets pretty expensive at $87 a ton. Recycling cans and bottles costs only $20 per ton in comparison, and recycling paper actually generates money!

The law school has four representatives for its dorms: Jim Krenn for Story and Shaw, Wes Mullen for Wyeth and Hastings, Jessica Bailey for North, and Ernest Abotsi for Ames, Dane, and Holmes. Chances are if you live in the dorms, you’ve seen their pictures and posters on the “eco boards” they’ve constructed to disseminate information about themselves and upcoming events. If you ever have questions or concerns, feel free to seek them out and email them!

The HLS Green Living representatives started off the year by performing their first “waste audit” alongside the reps from the other graduate schools. Bags of trash were collected from each dorm and graduate residence, and the reps separated out the recyclable and reusable materials from what actually belongs in the trash. For the law school, 49.64% of what was thrown away should have been recycled, one of the highest percentages of all the graduate schools. Using this as their baseline for improvement, the law school reps set off on a semester-long recycling campaign. They started by making sure each dorm had the proper bins in the proper places, with clearly labeled guidelines.

In addition, the HLS Green Living reps have also thrown several fun events already this year. Their early morning bagel and coffee stand last November was quite a hit and helped introduce many students to the program. Each rep also held a wine and cheese party in their respective dorms that highlighted important recycling statistics and information. They also sent out dorm specific emails that included tips on what to do over winter break, how to maximize the heat in your room, and how to use less heat overall (in the dorms with personal controls).

Currently, the Green Living reps are working on their campaign to reduce energy use in the dorms. They’ve already spent one day tabling in the Hark, handing out candy, and computer-use tips. The campaign’s highlight is a dorm-wide electricity competition, which started March 14. The competition runs through April 11 and contains two parts: the overall dorm electricity reduction (as compared to previous years) will be weighted at 70%, and the percentage of dorm residents that sign an electricity conservation pledge will be weighted at 30%. The winning dorm will be announced in April and will have a Finale dessert party thrown for its residents.

Look for the Green Living reps in the Hark again soon. They’ll have pledges for dorm residents to sign and electricity conservation handouts. If you live in the dorms, it’s time to start reducing your electricity use in order to start winning. Of course, if you don’t live in the dorms, it’d be great for you to cut back as well, as chances are you pay your own electricity bill. Either way, you’ll definitely be seeing more from the Green Living representatives this year, so take advantage of the wealth of information they’ll be sharing and start living green!

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