It’s well and good to learn from a lecture. But rarely is a lecture life-changing.
Washington is called the evergreen state. We love our trees, the great outdoors and our planet. We are a hardy people. And we have two universities (colleges) that are in the top 10 for sustainable practices and learning.
The University of Washington is ranked number 1 in the country. Every building completed since 2006 has earned LEED Gold. All appliances bought are Energy Star rated. And the hydro-powered campus runs 3 farms, an extensive recycling program, and the conservation-research hotbed Pack Forest. The university is located on a fresh water lake in Seattle that had problems with algae bloom from residential sewage run-off. The city of Seattle, like many cities with overburdened treatment centers, encouraged the University to reduce water use on campus. As an incentive, the city offered a rebate of $120 per water fixture that the university replace with new water saving equipment. So they retrofitted their plumbing to save water, conserve energy and be “green.”
Forty percent of UW’s food budget is spent on local items, according to the green report card. They use mostly cage free eggs and natural milk. The school composts their food waste, which keeps it out of the landfills. The Bothell campus uses goats to control weeds on their grounds.
All campus community members participating in the U-PASS program receive unlimited public transit passes and discounts on carpool permits and the car-sharing program. Student government runs a nonprofit bike repair shop, and 88 percent of students and 62 percent of employees commute via environmentally preferable means.
The Evergreen State College is ranked number 9 nationally. This non-traditional college breaks the mold in so many ways. Our middle son attended this college to obtain his Bachelor of Science degree and he received graduate level education with exceptional professors.
The Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Washington, aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2020. Though it’s campus is currently one-third coal powered, students pay a self-imposed fee of $1 each academic quarter to buy renewable energy credits to offset the college’s electricity consumption.
Evergreen’s Organic Farm is located on a 5 acre section of campus. The plot includes the farmhouse, Demeter’s Gardens, Community Gardens, the Biodiesel facility, the compost facility, the workroom, tool shed, greenhouses and the 38,000 square foot production area of the Organic Farm. The Organic Farm crew works all year round to plan, plant, maintain and harvest the various crops grown. The Compost Facility is used to turn farm waste into compost for fertilizing the production area of the farm. During the growing season the Organic Farm’s produce is sold at the Organic Farm Stand on Red Square at Evergreen, at The Organic Farm during business hours and through our Community Supported Agriculture Program. Excess produce and plant starts are donated to the Thurston County Food Bank.
The school has an extensive composting project as well as a comprehensive recycling program.
According to The Evergreen State Paper Policy, it is committed to using environmentally benign products and technologies whenever possible.
Ride Share and alternative forms of transportation are part of Evergreen’s sustainability. Student fees pay for and allow all students at Evergreen to ride the bus in and around Olympia and Thurston County an unlimited number of times each quarter by showing their student ID. By registering in a database of Evergreen commuters, the ride share program allows students, faculty and staff to match their schedules with people who live close by and facilitates contact to set up new carpools.
Ban the Bottle is a campus-wide initiative to raise awareness in The Evergreen State College community about the negative impacts of plastic bottles on social, environmental and economical health as well as alternative, safer options for drinking water. The long-term goal of this initiative is to discontinue the purchase of plastic bottled water on campus and provide re-useable water canteens and to install bottle fill stations across campus. Evergreen has switched all of their disposable ware to compostable products. They have also eliminated trays, saving countless gallons of water. The school supports local farmers and producers, using organic whenever possible.
Students can opt to live in the sustainability house, made up of a community of students committed to a living an environmentally conscious, socially just, and sustainable lifestyle. Residents of the Sustainability House complete 5 hours of sustainability-related service each month to the campus and house community.
The lessons students learn from these sustainable practices will be carried throughout their lives and potentially impact the world.