Engaging in sustainability: new punch card program aims to incentivize students

Students can find sustainability punch cards at Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center, Farinon College Center and Skillman Library. (Photo by Brandon Marin ’22)

In an effort to incentivize students to consciously make more sustainable choices around campus, the Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection (LEAP) club launched a new program for students in the form of a punch card. 

Social chair of LEAP Jacob Hoffner ‘20 came up with the idea for the project and is now the one spearheading its implementation. 

“While Lafayette has been making great strides towards increasing sustainable action on campus, we feel that many students still don’t have the awareness or the jump start of motivation to participate in a lot of the sustainable events that go on on campus,” Hoffner said.

“So last fall, we came up with the idea of creating a word system where students can engage in sustainability in a more interactive, fun way that doesn’t last just for particular events, but they can utilize this system throughout the semester,” he added. 

In order to get hole punches on this card, students can participate in various sustainability events on campus or in the Easton community such as attending sustainability club meetings, brown bag talks on environmental issues and community cleanup events in Easton.

Stacks of these punch cards can be found at the Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center, the Farinon College Center and the Skillman Library. 

Students can redeem a variety of gifts in completing their punch cards. Just half a card completed can earn students a Sprout pencil set or a bamboo toothbrush. The most valuable gift students can receive after completing five punch cards is a solar-powered battery pack. Other prizes for completing various numbers of cards include tote bags, reusable straw and mugs. 

Different events can earn students a number of different hole punches. The more effort an event requires, such as a community cleanup event, the more hole punches students can earn from attending. Leaf symbols will be on posters advertising upcoming sustainability events in the following week in order to indicate how many hole punches the event will give out.

Other than LEAP, many other clubs on campus are authorized to give out hole punches such as LaFFCo (Lafayette Food and Farm Cooperative), SEES (Society of Environmental Engineers and Scientists) and the Food Recovery Network. Each different club or activity that takes part in the program has a different type of hole punch.

LEAP is initially allocating the funds for the program, but as the program grows, the club said it will find outside sources of funding. Hoffner hopes that the program is able to grow from a LEAP initiative to a campus-wide program.

“Students already have been really excited and trying to get a bunch of punches and are really pumped about the prizes, which is great,” Sustainability Coordinator Kendall Roberson said.

Lafayette’s office of sustainability has been supportive, helping to update the website and storing equipment for the program.

“The more conversations we have around sustainability and what behaviors are good for the environment and how we can incentivize and reward students for doing those things. I think that’s great, we’re in the right direction. I’m excited to see what happens,” Roberson said.

Emma Stierhoff ‘20, President of LEAP, said that the club has been supporting Hoffner in his endeavors.

“Sustainability work can be very thankless sometimes, so I think [the program] is a good way to keep people motivated and show them…a tangible thank-you for the work that you’re putting into making the school more sustainable,” Stierhoff said.

If student organizations are hosting an event pertaining to sustainability, they can grab an extra hole punch kit from the office of sustainability.

Hoffner is leaving a “legacy” behind to pass on to other students after his graduation through this program, Roberson added. 

“I hope that the punch card program excites students to at least be a little more motivated and aware of what sustainable opportunities there are and what they can do to benefit the environment,” Hoffner said. “And overall, I just hope they have fun with it.”

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