By Julia Simon
In your first few weeks at Stanford, there is already so much to take in. Between figuring out classes to take, navigating which clubs to join or what programs to get involved in, and managing life at Stanford, there’s a lot to learn quickly and lots of avenues to explore, especially when it comes to sustainability on campus. Stanford aims to lead college campuses in efforts to reduce its environmental footprint, including becoming 80% carbon free by 2025 and achieving zero waste by 2030 among other goals for greater energy, water, and resource conservation. This blog post details many of the ways we can support these goals as students, engage in the process of making Stanford an even more sustainable place, and learn how to lead sustainable lives in the future. While this is not a comprehensive list of all the ways to support sustainability on campus, it’s a great place to start!
The easiest ways to engage in sustainability on campus involves practices in your dorm. Every room is equipped with recycling bins, and each dorm has some central location. It’s essential to learn how to properly sort your paper, plastic, and other wastes to help minimize the amount of waste Stanford sends to landfills. The Stanford Recycling Center uses this great graphic to detail what trash goes in which bin. Generating less waste helps meet that goal, too. Buying Tupperware and reusable cups and dishes to store food or secondhand books or clothes and donating any surplus you can help to reduce how much waste we landfill.
There are a number of little things you can do to conserve energy and water. Unplug cords and appliances when you’re not using them. Try just to wash clothes when you have a full load and use cold water. Think before you print and try to use the backs of old papers when you can. Not only do all of these small actions help reduce your footprint, but you can even get rewarded for many of them on My Cardinal Green. My Cardinal Green is a platform created as a part of the Sustainable Stanford effort to promote ways to participate in Stanford’s sustainability efforts. You can sign into the site, take a survey that will help determine which sustainability actions best align with your lifestyle on campus, and then you can begin completing suggested actions. Once you complete the actions and submit them with any relevant documentation, you can earn points, and for every 100 points you gain, you can redeem your choice of $75, a sustainability-related item or experience, or an equivalent charitable donation. So it pays to live sustainably on campus, too.
RD&E has published a great guide for sustainable living that is also worth checking out, as it lists ways to engage in sustainability in your room, around campus, and beyond:
Besides day-to-day sustainable actions, there are clubs, programs, and events you can participate in to learn more about sustainability and promote it on campus and beyond. Here are some sustainability-related clubs:
• Students for Sustainability: We are one of the largest sustainability-related groups on campus that aims to strives for long-lasting sustainable practices on and off the Stanford campus through discussion, engagement, and direct action.
• Engineers for a Sustainable World: ESW strives to improve the quality of life in underserved communities through building partnerships with those who share their vision and developing the necessary perspectives and skillsets.
• Stanford Farmers: Stanford Farmers aims to increase community involvement in the campus farm to connect people to their food and food system, particularly through experiential learning.
• Stanford Gleaning Project: At the intersection of food equity and sustainability, the Stanford Gleaning Project harvests excess fruit from the Stanford campus for donation to underserved populations in the Bay Area.
• Stanford Oceans Society: Stanford Ocean Society is a community of students wishing to support interests in oceans related issues through social events, networking, arts projects, and other extracurricular activities.
• Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS): SEEDS is dedicated to ecological education. They teach local high school students about ecology, bring students to Jasper Ridge, and hold an annual Bio Blitz at Lake Lagunita.
Sustainability in the Classroom
Over the years, SSS has compiled some of our members’ favorite sustainability classes. Since sustainability is a multi-disciplinary topic, these classes span several departments and cover a wide variety of sustainability topics. Whether you’re new to the sustainability world or not, classes from this list are well worth squeezing in to your four-year plan.
• CHEMENG/ENGR 25E: Energy: Chemical Transformations for Production, Storage, and Use
• CS 325B: Data for Sustainable Development (EARTHSYS 162, EARTHSYS 262)
• GSBGEN 335: Clean Energy Project Development and Finance
• EARTHSYS 160: Sustainability Cities (URBANST 164)
• PWR 194EP: Topics in Writing & Rhetoric: Introduction to Environmental Justice: Race, Class, Gender and Place (CSRE 132E, EARTHSYS 194, URBANST 155EP)
• EARTHSYS 114: Environmental Change and Emerging Infectious Diseases (EARTHSYS 214, ESS 213, HUMBIO 114)
• CS 50: Using Tech for Good
• HISTORY 203C: History of Ignorance
• EARTHSYS 243: Environmental Advocacy and Policy Communication
• CEE 107A: Understanding Energy (CEE 207A, EARTHSYS 103)
• BIO 105A/B: Ecology and Natural History of Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve (EARTHSYS 105A/B)
• BIO 30: Ecology for Everyone
• AFRICAAM 241A: Gentrification (CSRE 141, URBANST 141)
Whether you decide to participate in My Cardinal Green, join a sustainability-focused club, or take a class on a new topic, you’ll be well on your way to learning how to balance sustainability in your own life and career. We hope you’ll share all you learn with us over the years!
Welcome to our blog!
This is a forum for students to share their writing on intersectional environmental topics, curated by Students for a Sustainable Stanford. Writers of all backgrounds, abilities, and perspectives are welcome.