Santa Clara University students participate in a quarterly "waste characterization" session at a campus recycling center to get a better understanding of recycling and composting.
August 5, 2015 — Over the past
decade, Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California, has implemented important changes for environmentally and socially sustainable living. By
hiring a sustainability coordinator, creating a Graduation Pledge Alliance for
greener living post-graduation, and even hosting a fashion show with items made
from recycled material, the Jesuit school is making greener living a priority.
In 2004, the university started focusing energy and attention on its
own ecological impact. The school began by reducing water consumption in
response to the California droughts, and these efforts led to placing
sustainability as a high priority for their community. They established a
Center for Sustainability, which works with all aspects of the school — academics,
athletics and administration — to reduce their carbon footprint. They were even
able to divert 58 percent of their usual waste from municipal landfills in
But the focus isn’t only on the
university’s practices — Santa Clara wants their students to graduate as
morally and environmentally conscious people. That’s why their students are
presented with the opportunity to sign the SCU Graduation Pledge, promising to
consider the social and economic impacts of their jobs and to help improve
their company’s existing green policies. The pledge builds on four years of
learning about and improving upon a socially and environmentally conscious
outlook as students at the university.
“The world is the stage for our
students’ learning about social and environmental injustices throughout
internships, immersion trips, international fellowships and other experiential
learning,” said Lindsey Kalkbrenner, the school’s sustainability coordinator. As
part of their initiatives on environmentally conscious workplaces, professors
take students on field trips to Silicon Valley to observe sustainable business
practices, or invite guest speakers into their classes to speak on the topic.
Of course, no college movement
would be complete without an element of fun. Every spring semester, students
host an “eco-fashion show,” using recyclable materials to showcase new uses for
old things. At this year’s show, students transformed blue yarn and bottle
caps into earrings, conference brochures and a tablecloth into two long skirts,
and an old plastic daisy chain into a necklace. The event draws students,
alumni, faculty and staff to participate and watch, making recycling an
exercise in creativity.
Santa Clara remains committed
to innovative ways of recycling, reducing, reusing and equipping their students
to do the same. “There is nothing we won’t try,” Kalkbrenner said. [Source: National Catholic Reporter ]