Want to get kids to do something? Try a little peer pressure. At least that's the tactic that the University of Pennsylvania is taking this year with its new "Eco-Reps" program designed to help students show other students how to go green.

The U. of Penn. Eco-Reps are students from several of the university dorms and frat houses who have volunteered to become peer-to-peer educators to increase student awareness of sustainability and "the art and science of going green." The students' majors range from arts and sciences, to nursing to engineering and applied science.

“We believe motivated students who are interested in environmental issues can help their peers make better choices and decisions in their behavior as it relates to the environment,” said Dan Garofalo, the university’s sustainability coordinator.

The eco-reps, who have been meeting for several weeks, are focusing their efforts on reducing energy consumption and carbon production, improving waste reduction and recycling habits, conserving water, and promoting green transportation alternatives and consumer choices. Overall, the goal of the program is to create a more sustainable campus environment.  

They are well on their way with their first event — an energy-conservation challenge. Residents of each building will pledge to “unplug, turn down or turn off” electronics and thermostats while they’re away during winter break. Energy data will be compared to last year’s to see how those actions affect reductions.

Now that's peer pressure worth heeding!

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