Students at Penn State have been vocal political and environmental advocates since the time of the first Earth Day celebration. Eco Action, founded in 1970, is considered Penn State’s oldest environmental student group, and while it has organized events and campaigns around a variety of concerns throughout its 50-year history, advancing Penn State’s recycling programs is one its more notable success stories. In the 1970s, Eco Action successfully started a newspaper recycling program on campus and called for disposable bottle ban. The student-led recycling effort would ultimately lay the ground work for a formal university program in 1989. A memo from Eco Action, The Story Behind Penn State’s Recycling program, details how the group organized to save the program when, in 1992, university administration sought to curtail it for financial reasons.
In the decades since its founding, Eco Action and its affiliate groups have continued to push the university toward responsible environmental stewardship through grassroots efforts. Student action groups have advocated for climate action, clean energy, sustainable operations, and divestment from fossil fuels.
Penn State Eco Action
Various materials from Penn State Eco Action records
For a more detailed history of Eco Action and student environmental advocacy at Penn State, visit the History page of Eco Action’s website at: https://sites.psu.edu/ecoaction/category/history/.
In 1998 and 2000, the Penn State Green Destiny Council released versions of its Indicators Report, which examined University sustainability through data related to 33 “indicators,” including food, energy, transportation, and administrative decision-making. The 2000 report is available online at: https://willamette.edu/~nboyce/assessment/PennState.pdf.