Public Affairs

Student Stewardship in Sustainability

April 5, 2012
By Stephanie Thara

Degradation of the ozone layer. Global warming. World-wide water shortage. Increased landfill waste.

Student Stewardship in SustainabilityThrough university outreach, classes and programs, California State University students are becoming more educated on the environmental issues that are plaguing our planet and are spearheading efforts to save the Earth.

CSU students have taken efforts to unite, connect and empower fellow students to help encourage their campuses and communities to adopt a greener lifestyle. Educating more than 427,000 students, the CSU provides students the resources they need to create sustainability-focused organizations striving to reduce the world’s ecological footprint. With guidance from green-minded faculty, enthusiasm from staff members and educational resources at their fingertips, students have piloted sustainability projects and groups such as the following:

Students for Sustainability works to establish CSU Bakersfield as a more environmentally sustainable campus and engages in community activities that promote environmental sustainability, social justice, community involvement and educational initiatives.

Bicycle Kitchen at CSUCICSU Channel Islands Bicycle Kitchen is a student run club that promotes bicycling as a sustainable, fun and healthy alternative form of transportation. They provide low cost bicycle repair/maintenance education to the CSUCI community and function as a social hub for the local cycling community.

With guidance from Professor David Stronck, CSU East Bay’s Math and Science Service Learning Club encourages credential candidates to teach middle and high school students about ecology standards and participate in local environment restoration projects, including restoring creeks, lagoons, lakes and ponds.

Cal State Fullerton’s Green Campus has drafted a plan for reducing the amount of solid waste sent to landfills from the university by installing zero-waste stations. The stations will have bins for compost, recycle and landfill items, and will be staffed by student crew members to educate and assist in disposing of waste.

Humboldt State’s Compost Squad is a student run team that collects food and green waste on campus to turn it into a rich soil supplement. Diverting four tons of waste a year, the students are busy with year round production.

Cal Poly Surfrider ClubEmpower Poly Coalition, a student group at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, works to foster a sustainable environment on campus. The organization believes that "living sustainably implies that this generation of students leaves the next with an equal amount of resources. Empower Poly Coalition stands for human rights, environmental justice and healthy living."

The Eden Garden Club at CSU Monterey Bay is launching a student-run garden as part of a movement to promote organic, sustainable gardening, environmental awareness and healthy eating. In addition, they will host events with the campus food service provider and hold seminars on subjects such as gardening at home and vermicomposting.

Cal Poly Pomona’s Green Team is a student-led organization that raises environmental awareness and promotes sustainability initiatives on campus and off campus. They host speakers, “green” dinners, discussions, participate in health and environment events on campus, show documentaries and have started a “Free Store”—a free exchange among students and others on campus.

San Diego State's Enviro-Business SocietyThe Green Campus Team at CSU San Bernardino helps find innovative ways to encourage people to save energy on campus through educating campus members about sustainability, supporting behavioral changes, using smart strip technology and lighting retrofits.

The Enviro-Business Society (aka e3) is a non-profit environmental advocacy group led by students at San Diego State University that strives to empower students to make a positive environmental impact on campus, the community and the business world. e3 has created the Aztec Edible Garden Project to integrate food to table practices through outreach and education, has campaigned for a series of bike lanes throughout campus and is currently working to increase the number of composting bins on campus to make it easier for students.

Associated Students Inc. has been working with Sonoma State University to help expand Compost Happens to a campus-wide program. Compost Happens is a composting pilot project where pre- and post-consumer compostable items—including food scraps, paper and compostable utensils and take-out containers—are sorted at the dining hall, and then transported by North Bay Recycling to Carneros Ranch in CSU Stanislaus Ag EdventurePetaluma where the waste is broken down into compost. 

Cal State Stanislaus’ Ag Ambassadors utilize the university’s sustainable demonstration garden to teach 1,400 local third graders about sustainability, nutrition and agriculture’s role in the environment during Ag Edventure. Ag Ambassadors serve as tour guides, help book agriculture industry organizations to present educational booths, assist elementary schoolers with planting tomatoes in the garden and present agriculture literature workshops.