A number of activities and measures have been implemented in our Orientation program to foster and encourage sustainable behaviors in all new and returning students.

Sustainability Initiatives in New Student Orientation
Each year, orientation emphasizes modeling and encouraging sustainable behaviors. The value and practices of sustainability are introduced early to increase the likelihood that students will continue them throughout their time at the university and afterwards.

Every new student receives a reusable coffee thermos and water bottle sponsored by ASUPS and the Sustainability Advisory Committee. The travel thermoses are made from 75% post industrial recycled materials.

Check out Sustainability Services' awesome recycling video on YouTube! This video was made by Sustainability Services student staff for New Student Orientation 2014 and has been shown during Perspectives since then. 

Welcome Picnic

  • The 2015 Welcome Picnic was approximately 98% waste free due to the efforts of Sustainability Services and Dining and Conference Services
  • The menu was planned carefully to avoid packaging materials and unnecessary waste. It was planned around what was available in the university garden, primarily serving kale and other greens grown in the garden. As much of the rest of the food as possible came from local growers and suppliers.
  • Instead of serving ice cream bars with individual wrappers that are non-recyclable, DCS served ice cream cones that were a quickly eaten.
  • DCS used linen napkins, reusable flatware and compostable plates and napkins. Cedar Grove picked up the event's compostable waste. 
  • The only trash created were wrappers on gluten free cookies that were served. This wrapper was necessary to avoid the risk of contamination by gluten. 
  • The parents' breakfast served the next morning was 100% zero waste.


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).

Students experience Prelude to help demystify the city of Tacoma and increase their sense of the larger community around them. Returning to campus, students share 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. Prelude thus helps lay the groundwork for understanding the place of Puget Sound in the community and in a regional vision of sustainability while also meeting other academic goals during the day.

Continual Sustainable Practices in Perspectives

New Student Orientation at Puget Sound includes Perspectives, the three day on-campus experience where new students learn more about the academic and social aspects of student life. 

  • Urban Plunge takes place at:
    Citizens for a Healthy Bay
    Metro Parks
    Pierce Conservation District
    Mother Earth Farms

    All of the above agencies are environmentally oriented and new students are engaged in discussions around what their service work is contributing to the environment and 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.  
  • The Perspectives Campus Life Skit gives a sneak peak into what life is like on campus. Sustainability is incorporated in this musical skit to help new students learn about how it will be a part of their everyday experiences here.  

Continuing Sustainable Practices in Passages

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


  • All students are bussed out to Passages to reduce van usage and traffic.
  • Activities at Basecamp require little transportation and resource use— activities at camp instead focus on human interaction instead of resource consumption. 


  • 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. 
  • 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 to reduce trail and in-camp impacts.