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September 01, 2015

New employee team promotes workplace sustainability

Employees across the University are becoming Green Reps, volunteering as much as two hours per month to advocate for sustainability efforts and promote green initiatives in their respective departments. Through events, e-communications, and creative educational efforts, their goal is to raise awareness of how the University community can collectively practice more earth-friendly behavior at work— and at home. University Council on Sustainability member and Green Rep Lauren Caruso says the program hopes “to create a culture at the University that prioritizes the collective impact we have to positively address environmental and social issues.”

Acting as liaisons, Green Reps relay peers’ needs and feedback to the University Council on Sustainability.

“As members of the [council], we realized the great opportunity we have as employees to engage with each other around sustainability issues in much the same way students and community partners do,” says Caruso, assistant director of the College’s Rochester Center for Community Leadership.

Green Reps act as representatives for participating departments’ views regarding “green” practices that succeed, or don’t, and actively demonstrate actionable, measurable differences made through the conservation of materials. Reps receive The Compost, a monthly newsletter that highlights opportunities to fine tune, expand, and explore new sustainable practices. For example, September’s Compost features the objective of controlling portion sizes to avoid food waste by employing the Japanese food philosophy of hara hachi bu: eating until you’re 80 percent full.

Green Reps are presented with a monthly challenge to employ one of several action items in their department. This can include putting up signs to encourage others to attend the University Farmers Market, where sustainable practice is satisfied by consuming local and ethically produced goods or providing reusable kitchenware for faculty and staff over disposable.

“My hope for Green Reps,” says Caruso, “is to be a fun and relevant grassroots movement known for its advocacy and effectiveness in achieving our mission as a University: to Learn, Discover, Heal, Create, and Make the World Ever Better.”

If your department does not have a Green Rep, and you or a colleague would like to volunteer, contact or visit

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