Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 76.71
Liaison Gioia Thompson
Submission Date Feb. 6, 2023

STARS v2.2

University of Vermont
EN-5: Outreach Campaign

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Gioia Thompson
Sustainability Strategist
UVM Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Has the institution held a sustainability-related outreach campaign during the previous three years that was directed at students and yielded measurable, positive results in advancing sustainability?:

Has the institution held a sustainability-related outreach campaign during the previous three years that was directed at employees and yielded measurable, positive results in advancing sustainability?:

Name of the campaign:
EcoWare Everywhere!

A brief description of the campaign:

In Fall 2020 UVM decided to continue its reusable take-out container exchange program (called EcoWare) to minimize the use of single-use containers and products on campus. This program has been in place since 2011 but saw some big changes due to the Covid guidelines and protocols. In order to help the program be successful, Eco-Reps did social media outreach to educate students on the changes and bring incoming students up to date. Through Instagram take-overs, memes on social media, celebrity endorsements, and in-person events explaining the program, Eco-Reps helped the University maintain this reuse program during a pandemic with 37,689 single use containers diverted from landfills.
UVM implemented reusable EcoWare to-go containers in retail locations 2011. Data collected from the past 4 years has shown that EcoWare uses became concentrated in residential dining locations once the program was expanded there in 2015 and usage has fallen much lower in retail locations. Due to the volume of disposable containers used in retail locations, there is a significant opportunity for waste reduction if usage there increases.

Based on the residential location and its proximity to retail dining locations, each team was assigned anywhere from one to three dining locations to focus their outreach on, with a total of nine locations being addressed. Each team was responsible for tabling at these dining locations throughout a three-week period. On a community team level, Eco-Reps promoted EcoWare in specific locations by tabling and acknowledging existing members while simultaneously signing up new EcoWare members. Using the data from those locations for each week, the process and impact was recorded and compared with data from previous years. Along with tabling, the Eco-Reps designed stickers to be handed out and new signage for retail dining locations, reminding students and employees to use EcoWare and notifying them of the increased discount offered when using EcoWare.

In an effort of campus-wide outreach, the Eco-Reps ran an Instagram photo contest throughout the campaign. The contest sought to promote the program by encouraging people to submit photos of them using EcoWare and tagged with #sutsainableuvm. A $100 gift card to a campus retail dining location was the prize awarded for the best photo.
For more info: https://www.uvm.edu/sustain/eco-reps/news/ecoware-everywhere-campaign-results

A brief description of the measured positive impact(s) of the campaign:

37,689 single use packages were diverted in the fall of 2020, 51,058 single use packages were diverted the following semester with the dedicated outreach from Eco-Reps. At the time EcoWare was not being tracked with an exchange program and were given freely without any true incentive to return said containers. This meant that Eco-Reps' work to provide outreach was a huge contributor to the 39% return rate of reusable containers in both fall 2020 and spring 2021 (the total enrollment and usage of the program rose in spring 2021 which accounts for the lack of visibly improved return rate). The following semester there was much less outreach and the return rate for fall 2021 dropped to 13% without the support from Eco-Reps.

Name of the campaign (2nd campaign):
Office Composting Outreach

A brief description of the campaign (2nd campaign):

Many office composting programs, which are operated by volunteers in each office, were impacted by Covid lockdowns and ongoing increased telework. UVM Recycling & Zero Waste and Office of Sustainability conducted outreach to employees to address this drop in participation including newsletter and listserv messages, direct outreach of Sustainability Ambassadors to their units, inclusion in the Campus Sustainability Series through Professional Development and Training and tabling events. There is no website associated with this effort as it was conducted in multiple forms by multiple entities.

A brief description of the measured positive impact(s) of the campaign (2nd campaign):

A survey was circulated on our recycling listserv in fall of 2022 asking people with composting programs to identify if any of our outreach efforts were impactful in the starting or revitalization of their office composting program. 60% of responding offices answered “yes” and 13% answered “kind of”. The outreach methods that made the most impact were the campus sustainability series (an online offering through UVM’s Professional Development and Training office) and newsletter/listserv communication.

A brief description of other sustainability-related outreach campaigns:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.