Outdoor Action's Commitment to Sustainability
The Outdoor Action Frosh Trip program is a Princeton University orientation program that gives incoming freshmen the opportunity to start college on a multi-day backpacking trip with their future friends and peers. Outdoor Action has always been aware of its unique opportunity to influence Princeton’s students, since it is responsible for giving more than half of each incoming class one of its first Princeton experiences. For this reason, Outdoor Action provides an ideal situation not only for students to make friends and start settling into college, but also to discuss issues that will invariably crop up over the next four years, such as alcohol and diversity. Outdoor Action also provides a unique opportunity for learning about sustainability, since the experience of living in the backcountry naturally encourages students to be mindful of their impact on the environment. We hope to give students not only a memorable Frosh Trip experience, but also a new perspective on their relationship with the environment that will stay with them long after they’ve returned to Princeton.
Starting with the planning and research that took place in summer 2008 with support from the High Meadows Foundation, Outdoor Action has launched a new initiative to become as sustainable as possible, both on and off the trail. The goals behind this initiative are twofold: first, to evaluate and reduce the program’s carbon footprint by reducing packaging, post-trip waste, and the distance our food and gear have to travel in order to reach us; and second, to use the Frosh Trip itself as a way of prompting students to think about the importance and fragility of the environment and their role in present-day environmental issues.
Download a copy of the Outdoor Action Sustainability Guide (PDF)
It’s so great to realize that I can fend for myself out here and I love that we aren’t generating very much trash. I love that I’m not driving my car around. We’ve actually been talking a lot about sustainability. OA trips in the past have been focused just on packing out the trash. We wouldn’t leave it in the wilderness, we’d just put it in a dumpster back at school. On this trip we are trying to not generate that trash in the first place. Having seen how much transportation goes into packaging and processing food I’m going to be a lot more careful in my own life. This just really puts everything in perspective. I know I’m going to appreciate everything much more when I get back to school.
- Julia Rees ’12 from Bethesda, MD
I really didn’t know much about living in the woods without impacting the environment. I didn’t really know about how to reduce trash and things like that. This has really opened my eyes about how much impact we have on the environment. Going back home I know I'm going to not drive my car so much and I’ll use more natural transportation, like walking or biking. And I’ll definitely recycle more.
- George Che ’12 from Malden, MA
The whole sustainability thing is woven into the everyday activities that we do and the meals that we eat. We obviously want to decrease OA’s carbon footprint as much as we can. But there’s also another component which is the educational value of making changes in how OA operates and being able to tell freshmen and leaders that this is something that OA really wants to work for. Hopefully all of the people that OA comes in contact with will come away with a different attitude towards the environment.
- Emily Sung ’11 from Lawrenceville, NJ, and leader of one of the first OA 'eco-trips'