UCLAs green efforts include transportation
In an age of increased carbon dioxide emissions, skyrocketing energy costs and Al Gore, its no wonder that the new buzzword of late is green. As large corporations such as Nissan and Starbucks increasingly become sustainable, the University of California is implementing green marketing strategies to avoid being left behind.
By Tulika Bose
MyRide Goes Green is UCLA transportation’s user-generated sustainability program that incorporates social networking and game-show elements. Initially a program that simply encouraged alternative transportation (bicycling, walking and Vanpool), it is now an online contest in which users submit short stories on their personal experiences using sustainable transportation.
Winners of the contest, or ambassadors as the program calls them, receive recycled-paper trading cards that reflect their mode of transport, allowing them to advertise their methods of transportation to others.
Penny Menton, program founder, said she found the best strategy to publicize to be word of mouth – but on a significantly more tech-savvy scale. She said the first contest received 120 stories and received 1,450 votes from UCLA students, staff and faculty.
“People can relate to other people that they know or people in a similar circumstance. ... They are therefore more inclined to take a chance and do something different,” Menton said.
The program’s method of incorporating the user into the process has garnered multiple awards in marketing, such as the Metro Diamond Award for Outstanding Marketing Program and has earned praise from students and faculty.
But Marketing Director Louise Manfe of Expert Marketing said that some corporations and universities are happy to simply use the word “green” to attract consumers, because green marketing has become a lucrative playing field for big businesses.
“Green marketing is totally an increased buzzword; the average person doesn’t check to see if the word holds any weight with the business,” Manfe said. “People should look at what companies are actually doing to be sustainable.”
In fact, “green” has become such an important factor that The Princeton Review has added sustainability to its rating of top 100 schools.
According to The New York Times, 63 percent of prospective students reported sustainability as a major factor in whether they would attend a school, and universities have been rushing to get green as a result.
UCLA’s sustainability Web site is no exception, displaying factors such as 112,000 energy-efficient lightbulbs, a LEED-certified UC police station and life science buildings, and a fleet that is 38 percent alternative-fuel vehicles.
But not everyone agrees with the progress that UCLA is allegedly making. Spencer Hudson, a former employee at the Associated Students UCLA, said he quit partly because his boss refused to recycle, in spite of ASUCLA’s pro-green stance.
Hudson, who worked for purchasing, said his boss believed recycling was inefficient and a waste of money.
“Everyday I would take an industrial-sized trash bag and at least fill it to the brim with paper and cardboard, despite the fact that there were recycling bins available on campus,” Hudson said.
Hudson added that most of the material thrown away was recyclable.
“The only real trash that we had was coffee grinds, and those are biodegradable,” Hudson said.
He added that he felt that UCLA’s green marketing campaign, which emphasized buildings and efficiency, failed to include details like basic recycling programs for the offices on campus.
“They’re emphasizing the big things, but not the small things. We’re not the only office that throws a bunch of paper away – I feel like stuff gets thrown away all of the time,” Hudson said.
Published: Monday, August 11, 2008