Written by: Josh Chamberland, Sophomore at Bowling Green State University, Greenpeace Semester Alum, Greenpeace Student Network Campus Coordinator
Operation Tiger was the first campaign I ran and took part in as a Campus Coordinator through the Greenpeace Student Network at Bowling Green State University (BGSU). It all started as an idea and a goal, to help stop the destruction of Indonesian rainforests by Asia Pulp and Paper. At the beginning of last year I took this campaign idea to the first environmental club on campus I found and after a couple meetings, I pitched the campaign idea. They weren’t up to running a campaign at that time, so I proceeded to organize a core group of friends who were interested in running this campaign with me.
The first semester started off fairly slow, just gathering information and having meetings with administrators to discuss our goals and see what they had to say. In the second semester a few friends and I went to the first ever Student Network Activist Convergence (SNAC). At SNAC, we really learned how to take the next steps needed for our campaign. When we returned, we were all super stoked to get back on campus to really bring change to BGSU that would have worldwide effects.
We officially kicked off the campaign to the public early second semester with a petition drive, calling on our President and Board of Trustees to commit to transitioning the university to using only 100% post-consumer recycled paper products all over campus. We had student’s dress up in tiger and orangutan suits to make the first official day of the petition exciting. Shortly after our event, our story was featured on the front page of our school newspaper the BG News.
We continued our petition drive with an original goal of 1,600 signatures by the end of the semester. I also made an agreement with the rest of the group saying “I’ll shave off all my hair if we make it to 1,600.” After that, we continued to really have a presence on campus, talking to students and make their voices heard. While this was going on, there were elections for president of student government. There were two candidates who ran on a platform that included sustainability. They won the election, so I approached them and proposed our initiative to get 100% recycled paper on campus. They told me if we could collect 2,000 signatures, 10% of the student body, they could most likely make something happen.
After hearing this, Operation Tiger BGSU began building a coalition of groups, clubs, and departments who all signed onto our coalition letter. This letter stated that the groups that signed wanted recycled paper. Overall, we collected over 2,200 signatures and 15 groups signed onto the coalition letter. I shaved my head completely bald, and it is still growing back.
Over the summer, I was contacted by the student government president and he informed me that all of the student printing on campus would be transitioning to using only 100% post-consumer recycled printing paper after the first couple months of fall semester. This was a HUGE victory for us and I was told that it was because of the massive amount of student support the cause received in such a short amount of time.
Operation Tiger really showed me that change can actually happen if people come together to organize. I’m excited to be a part of a rising movement to save the world.