Thank you for reporting on sustainability initiatives at Reunions 2022 (Princetonians, May issue). Actually, for the past two years, the Greening Reunions Alumni Working Group has been analyzing the environmental impact of Reunions and developing recommendations for greater sustainability, including one mentioned in your article, the chartering of buses from major cities to get attendees to campus.
Since roughly 90 percent of the carbon emissions from a typical festival come from travel, this year we also created a voluntary fund so Reunions attendees could purchase carbon offsets from Climate Vault. Another major environmental impact of Reunions is plastic landfill waste; at Reunions 2019, we estimated that more than 300,000 nonrecyclable cups were used, most of which ended up in the trash. (This year, bioplastic cups were piloted across Reunions; however, roughly 95 percent went to landfill where they will contribute to plastic pollution comparably to conventional plastics.) The adoption of a reusable-cup service such as that provided by r.Cup, an innovator in the live-event industry, could dramatically cut this waste. Though this and other initiatives could not be adopted this year due to uncertainties around the pandemic, we hope we are on a path to a greener Reunions.
Since the alumni leadership of Reunions changes every year and the event is unique in that it is both alumni-driven and hosted by Princeton, if you are committed to this issue, please consider joining our alumni group, and also communicate your thoughts to your alumni leadership and the director of Reunions, Mibs Southerland.