“Little Things Add Up”
with Jessica Hoppe Dağcı, Coordinator, Marquand Library Operations and Special Collections
What is your role and how long have you been at the University?
My role is to manage the library's portion of the building and the facility’s needs. I manage a student staff of 30-35 students and steward the distinguished rare books collection. I have been at Marquand for about five and a half years now, and previously worked at the music library.
How do you define sustainability?
To me, it’s about how you use things and choosing the right things to use - if you need paper, choose the right paper, if you need pencils, choose the right pencil. It’s about our behavior, and accepting responsibility for taking care of the planet.
In what ways have you integrated sustainability practices into your work environment?
I’ve always incorporated little things here and there. Whenever we see lights on in places where people aren’t, our staff have developed a responsibility to turn them out. This is quite opposite of when I first started. As part of opening procedures, all lamps were once turned on first thing in the morning, including in our rare books reading room. I was here for maybe a week and asked, “Why are we doing this, do we have to?” It took a little convincing, but now we no longer turn those lights on. Now whenever we see rooms not in use that aren’t on motion sensors, we turn the lights off.
Another thing we’ve done is to put very small stickers on all of the computer monitors that suggest that users switch them off when they’re finished. While the library remotely shuts down all the public machines from 2am-7am to help save energy, the monitors can’t be remotely turned off. So I asked, “Why can’t we just keep all the monitors off when not in use?” Now part of our closing procedure with the students is to make sure they turn all of the monitors off. We’re the only library at Princeton who does this. This is something I would like to introduce to the other libraries since it has been such a success here.
I’ve also encouraged everyone to use pilot recyclable pens and pencils as well as reuse paper and print on both sides. We also try to reduce printing by only printing necessary things. Our office has a Terracycle writing utensil recycling box and battery recycling collection bucket.
In what ways have you integrated sustainability practices at home?
So many ways. We repurpose everything that can be reused and reduce our food scraps. Biking is a way of life for my family; my husband and I don’t drive at all. At home, we use freecycle, and I save all our boxes to share with people if they’re moving. Sometimes people forget about the 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Reducing and recycling may be more common, but the reuse part seems to be frequently forgotten. I like to hit all of them. Don’t use if you don’t need it. If you used it, figure out a way to reuse it. And if it can’t be used anymore, recycle it.
What do you think Princeton does best to advance sustainability?
I like that the paper we buy is 100% post-consumer recycled content. The arrangement that Purchasing has with OfficeMax to include “green” and recycled items is great. I don’t use the central purchasing myself, but I try to encourage the buying of green products. The food scraps composting in the food prep and kitchen areas of student dining halls is also great. Facilities does a great job as far as reducing unnecessary chemicals in cleaning products and having sustainable landscaping.
How could the University become even more sustainable?
I think we still have a long way to go compared to other universities. We should be affecting the students more, for example, by encouraging waste reduction and recycling, particularly through single stream recycling. If you can raise students’ awareness, they will look for more opportunities to recycle. Adding signage and consistency in signage to receptacles will help with that.