Do One Thing campaign makes the global personal

    Zapfel ’09 is the College’s sustainability fellow.

    You’ve got a lot on your mind: classes, work, sports, clubs, family, money, health — everyone’s busy, and global issues often get lost in the shuffle. For example, the College of William and Mary’s recent improvements and commitment to sustainability can feel pretty disconnected from our day-to-day lives.
    Most of us are aware that the planet has seen better days, but it’s hard to make something like sustainability, even here on campus, a top priority when bills need to be paid and essays need to be written. And what does sustainability really mean, anyway? It’s hard to relate such a large, multifaceted term to everyday life.

    Sustainability can be defined as the responsible use of resources so that future generations can use them as well. But on a very real, individual level, sustainability is simply the ability to preserve yourself. Personal sustainability is the act of keeping yourself going physically, emotionally, culturally and environmentally. It’s about living a healthy, happy and fulfilling life.

    This individualization of sustainability was the basis for the Do One Thing campaign launched September at the Mason School of Business. The program, which originated from the sustainability strategy firm Saatchi & Saatchi S, and the first of its kind at any business school in the country, strives to get one billion people across the planet to adopt a personal sustainability practice. DOT helps people improve their lives and the lives of those around them.

    In recognition of the hard work of the business school’s undergraduate Net Impact chapter and of program director Chris Adkins, Saatchi & Saatchi S CEO Adam Werbach spoke about DOT at the business school this past September. The school’s DOT Facebook page amassed over 1,000 DOTs from students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and community members in only a month.

    In light of the wonderful success of DOT at the business school, we’re set to become the first DOT university: This past Monday, President Taylor Reveley announced that the DOT program is launching campus wide. Committee on Sustainability volunteers, led by law professor Erin Ryan and Caroline Cress ’10, have worked diligently for months to roll out the DOT program in each of the schools and departments across the College, beginning in business and law this week, and culminating in a campus DOT celebration around Earth Day in April.

    To get involved with DOT, think about your daily routine, the little acts that make up your day. Pick just one of these acts, one thing that you can change to conserve resources, improve your health or the health of others, or build community, or create economic stability.

    This change is your personal sustainability practice — your DOT. It can be something as small as printing on recycled paper or as large as switching to a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Reveley has chosen to use reusable coffee mugs and print double-sided whenever he can.

    The College has made some fantastic strides in sustainability over the past few years. The Committee on Sustainability has over 100 devoted volunteers working on everything from composting the dining halls’s food waste to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. The student green fee has paid for energy-saving building improvements and has inspired student research. Reveley has emphasized the College’s commitment to sustainability in the past, and now he’s asking for you to help.

    We’re not asking you to save the world. The DOT program simply asks you to find a small way to improve your life, the lives of those around you, and the state of the world’s resources. We are asking you to show the world what this College community of 10,000 can accomplish when we each make one small choice. You only have to do one thing.

    E-mail Phillip Zapfel at


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