A number of activities and measures have been implemented in our Orientation program since 2005 to foster sustainable behaviors.

Green Orientation 2008
During the Spring 2008, the Orientation team received a sustainability grant from the Sustainability Advisory Committee to improve communication with new students during the Orientation program regarding the value of sustainable practices at Puget Sound. These efforts refined, enhanced, and added to new sustainability initiatives added to the Orientation program in 2005, described below.

New Sustainable Initiatives in New Student Orientation 2005
Orientation for the class of 2009 made impressive strides this year with regards to modeling and encouraging sustainable behavior.  The messages of sustainability were planted early in the minds of the first-year students and parents.


Eight instructors collaborated on a pilot version of Prelude that linked academic study with civic engagement. The day's exercises were organized around the theme of the Sense of Place and Tacoma. Students engaged with a variety of texts (e.g., short story, essay, research sites, and their own experiences). This approach engaged students with resources in the Tacoma community and extended the concept of close reading to include research sites (these included the Thea Foss Waterway, McKinley Park, and Hilltop).

Out of the experience, we found that students were generally appreciative of the opportunity to get out into the community for part of the day, and their explorations helped demystify the city. Returning to campus, students shared their findings through a collaborative writing exercise and showed that, in fact, they had assimilated knowledge of Tacoma and had grasped the idea of a sense of place. They expressed a wide-range of insights into the history, challenges, and accomplishments of the city in its environmental and social relations. This pilot version of Prelude thus helped lay the groundwork for understanding the place of Puget Sound in the community and in a regional vision of sustainability, even as it also met other academic goals for the day.


Campus Life Skit
The Perspectives Campus Life Skit included a small scene about being sustainable.  The message was related to bringing back dishes, conserving energy, and supporting the efforts on campus. 

Orientation Picnic

  • Great effort was made for Orientation 2005 to create a Zero Waste Picnic.  (This effort has continued every year hence.)
  • The menu for this event was chosen carefully to avoid packaging materials and unnecessary waste.  This year’s picnic was indeed unique; every detail for the feast was planned months in advance, including the type of plate selected.  SAC selected a different plate this year that was made of cornstarch and sugarcane to enable composting.  The picnic included reusable silverware.  All of the plastic, aluminum, and glass were recycled.
  • City of Tacoma Environmental Services staff collaborated with the university to compost food and plates.
  • Passages and Perspectives Leaders were recruited to work the waste area and assist guests in putting the “trash” in the right recycling, garbage or composting bins.
  • The picnic had over 2,000 guests and produced only one small bag of garbage.  All other picnic materials were reusable, recyclable, or compostable.  Pretty close to ZERO waste!

Urban Plunge Lunches
The left over Urban Plunge lunches were taken to the Tacoma Rescue Mission.  Overall, the Plunge lunches need to be packaged differently in the future to minimize food and packaging material waste.


For Orientation 2005, a New Student Orientation mug was distributed to all new students as part of the Passages equipment list.  The new mugs display sustainability messaging and a sustainability program logo as well as new university and ASUPS logos.  The messaging encourages students to use and return resusable dishware.  The mugs were obtained in five colors to provided variety and help meet individual tastes.

Surplus Food
One of the Passages Leaders assumed responsibility for gathering any leftover food from Passages and distributed it to leaders and homeless shelters so as not to waste it.

Continual Sustainable Practices in Perspectives

  • Urban Plunge performed at:
    Citizens for a Healthy Bay
    Metro Parks
    Pierce County District Conservation Team
    Guadalupe Gardens
    Mother Earth Farms

    All of the above agencies are environmentally oriented and are organizations in which the students are engaged in discussions around what their service work is contributing to the environment/community.  Each student also gets to know more about Tacoma and the community they are now a part of by being at Puget Sound.
  • Additionally, there are other organizations that students volunteer at that are part of the social justice fabric of Tacoma, such as Food Connection, The Mission, Faith Homes, YWCA, etc.
  • Travel to and from the agencies for the Plunge is via city bus, Laidlaw buses, vans and mini-vans.  Pierce Transit has a standing relationship with us to provide free bus passes to those that can take the bus to their service agency.  Each year a Pierce Transit representative comes out to the Plunge to talk about the use of the bus and what a great mode of transportation it can be for our students.
  • In past years during the Perspectives Campus Life Skit, a representative from Dining and Conference Services has done an introduction of DCS to the audience.  (Over 300 people attend this event).  The introduction includes messages about use of our silverware and dinnerware and the importance of bringing it back to the servery so that we waste less.  Using the dishware instead of paperware is also encouraged. 

Continuing Sustainable Practices in Passages

Students are encouraged to bring their mugs to Passages to limit the use of paper products and dishware.  Mugs are on the equipment list for Passages.


  • All students are bussed out to Passages so as to reduce van usage and traffic.
  • Activities at Basecamp require little transportation and resource use—we do the activities at camp and focus on human interaction and not on resource consumption.  (46 of 66 activities are done at camp).


  • Much time and energy are spent on buying bulk food and repackaging the food over the summer for each of the out-of-camp trips. (33 out-of-camp trips).
  • We limit the use of paper products at camp to one large meal when the capacity of camp goes beyond the dishwashing capacity.
  • The Leave No Trace ethic is practiced and taught to Passages leaders who then teach it to the Passagees.  Practices are taught in base camp and on out-of-camp trips. For more information go to www.lnt.org.
  • Passages works closely each year with the Olympic National Park to obtain proper permits and keep the group size within sustainable practices.