Sustainability and You

Sustainability and You!

In Spring 2022, our ESS 312 Sustainability Science class, taught by Dr. Stacy Lynn, created the ESS Sustainability Welcome Guide, a guide for incoming students on how to live sustainably in Fort Collins and at CSU.  Within the guide, topics from transportation to eco-advocacy are explored, with educational resources and information specific to Fort Collins. Below, you will find summaries of each section in the guide. Click on the title for each section to see the guide. We hope you will find this resource useful and inspirational!

Fort Collins Public Transit: Transfort

Transfort is the Fort Collins area public bus system, with routes leading to campus and connecting much of Fort Collins. On routes that lead into campus, CSU students and staff ride for free! Fort Collins is dedicated to making eco friendly changes, here is how TransFort is helping: addition of electric busses to the fleet, solar lights at bus stops, and promoting fuel efficient transportation. All busses have bike racks, are wheelchair accessible, and have visual and auditory queues for stops.

Fort Collins & CSU: Biking

Biking is easy and can be much faster than driving, especially around campus. There are many bike racks much closer to classes than the parking lots and bus stops. Additionally, you will avoid getting stuck in Fort Collins traffic. It is also much more affordable than buying gas and a CSU parking pass. You can bike to school to reduce your carbon footprint while staying fit and enjoying the gorgeous Fort Collins weather.

Fast Fashion & Household Goods

On a daily basis, we are wearing clothes and using home goods constantly. These are things that require strong production systems and intense amounts of resources. This leads to short-lived, linear life cycles that make for textiles and home goods to be a significant portion of our landfills. In modern times, fast fashion and home goods are a huge capitalistic contributor (new trends often influence the market), and there are trillions of tons of waste and emissions being derived from shop culture due to changing trends and lower prices for companies to compete for consumer’s business. This culture affects everyone from how laborers are treated to how clothing is disposed of, and it is important to consider as you enter the world of sustainability in college. Check out the Sustainability Welcome Guide for detailed resources, stores in Fort Collins, and more information on fashion and household goods.

  • Online platforms and marketplaces can help you find secondhand clothing and household goods. No sell groups can be a great resource to find secondhand items and connect to your community!
  • Fort Collins has plenty of secondhand stores, including furniture and vintage stores!

Plastic & Packaging

Plastics have unfortunately become an integral part of our society – from food storage, single use containers, bags, and etc. Being able to consciously omit plastics and packaging from your daily life will help lessen your own footprint on the environment. Plastic and packaging have accumulated on our earth, manifesting in things like the great pacific garbage patch. Plastics may take up to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill, so when they get into our environment they cause harm to the ecosystem. The city of Fort Collins made it a goal in 1999 to divert 50% of its waste from landfills. In 2016 it was found that 51.1% diversion rate, meaning these materials were either recycled or composted instead (City of Fort Collins). Small changes in your daily habits will be beneficial for you and your community in the long run, and it may even inspire those around you to do the same!

Recycling in Fort Collins

Recycling and Reusing are two factors that play a huge role in our sustainability acts. Recycling doesn’t just have one meaning and we can break it down to every level. For us here in Fort Collins, recycling can be reusing single use objects back at your home, supporting CSU composting and renewable energy, and recycling on your own! Recycling centers are located around Fort Collins for special items, but our normal items for recycling can be easily recycled in our bins around CSU and Fort Collins, along with our composting containers! According to Global Citizen, the average person in America produces over 1,500 lbs of trash per year, and this trash ends up in landfills, oceans, and ecosystems on which we depend for our livelihoods. The Earth would be a much cleaner and more valued place with less trash on it, which is why recycling aims to convert certain materials to others which can be used again. You can decrease your impact by recycling correctly, educating others about the importance of recycling, and talking to homeowners and landlords about how to recycle in Fort Collins.

  • Learn about Fort Collins recycling, such as what can and can’t be recycled and how to take care of difficult to dispose of materials
  • Test your knowledge about recycling with this quiz
  • Consider joining CSU’s Zero Waste Team if you are passionate about waste reduction and clean waste streams, if you want to learn more about waste, or if you are just looking to get involved on campus!

Energy Use & Reduction

As you embark on adulthood and take on more responsibility, you may want to become more aware of energy use in your daily life. Whether it’s charging our devices, using lights, or kicking back to watch T.V. after a long day of classes, we are constantly consuming energy to power our lives. We get this energy through consumption of fossil fuels, hydroelectric power, wind power, and more, all of which have some costs to the environment and human life. By reducing unnecessary energy use, we can reduce the amount of pollution and environmental harm both in Fort Collins and globally. Did you know that if you left a 100W light bulb on for a year you would generate 750 kg of carbon dioxide (Daisy Energy, n.d.)? Turning off the lights, unplugging appliances, and ensuring you don’t leave fans or computers running while you aren’t home are just a few of the ways you can lead a more sustainable life here at CSU!

Water Use

Water use is a vital part of human life. It is inevitable to use water for health, cleanliness, and pretty much every production in our world. The key to sustainable water use is to know what uses up water, and to actively think of ways to shorten its need. In everyday life this is seen through turning the stream off when not actively using it for brushing teeth, washing your face and dishes, and in the shower when not rinsing. Water use is considered “sustainable” if less water is withdrawn than nature itself is capable of replenishing. As we are currently in a drought here in Colorado and millions of other people rely on the water that flows after our use (Colorado provides water to many other states), it is crucial to be more mindful about how much water you’re using in order to not deplete this limited resource on our planet.

Sustainable Food Habits

Food waste, single use plastic usage, pollution, and depletion of natural resources are just some of the issues that arise from food production. However, sustainable eating and shopping habits are as easy as you make them. In fact, there are several small and simple tasks that you can take when it comes to buying groceries, meal prepping, or cooking at home. Some of the biggest takeaways we got from sustainable science regarding food include: sticking to locally grown foods, shopping for produce that’s in season, going for grass fed meats, and using your food scraps to cook. Also, cooking at home is one of the key recommendations in food policy today. In addition, it is important to stay intentional about where your food comes from.

Environmental Justice & Advocacy

As the planet becomes more degraded, there is inequity in who’s affected by the problem. Oftentimes, the ones most affected by environmental problems like pollution from landfills or factories are those in poverty and very frequently people of color. Data shows that pollutants which can affect human health such as these aforementioned factories and landfills are often situated in areas with high percentages of people of color and people in poverty. In order to ensure that these groups of people are not unfairly impacted by unsustainable practices, Environmental Justice becomes extremely important. Environmental Justice (EJ) serves as both a sustainability goal and a process for ensuring an equitable future for everyone. The environmental aspect reminds us to be good stewards of earth. “Justice”, ensures that we include cultural identifiers, like race, gender, economic status, health, etc. in our understanding of the ways people participate in sustainability. Systemic inequalities remain influential in sustainability oriented fields. Addressing environmental injustice is key to sustainable development and should be a priority for institutions and individuals alike. Diversity topics in environmental coursework will create a socially aware generation of researchers. Through this learning our research and projects will have a more positive impact on the communities we work in/with. Community engagement and an increase in diversity are necessary to addressing issues of inequity. This holds true for inequality in sustainability topics.

Sustainable Recreation

One of the best ways to make the most out of your time at CSU is to experience the abundance of natural beauty that Fort Collins has to offer. Whether you like to hike, bike, swim, slackline, or just enjoy the sunshine, there is space for everyone to do so. CSU has competitive & recreational clubs/organizations that span the scope of many outdoor activities; from the Alpine Club, & an American Fisheries Society chapter, to the Whitewater Club, Mt. Bike Team, Plant ID Club, and many, many others. There is something for everyone! Clubs encourage members new to the activity, and participation is a great way to get out into Colorado’s nature and make new friends. Enjoy, Rams!

  • The CSU Rec Center has an Outdoor Program, with planned trips and lessons for outdoor recreation with a focus on Leave No Trace principles, as well as gear rentals.
  • Visit RamLink to find clubs focused on outdoor recreation
  • Check out the guide to see more recreation opportunities in Fort Collins and the numerous second-hand gear stores in the area

Additional Resources

School of Global Environmental Sustainability (SoGES)

SoGES is a campus-wide school dedicated to addressing interrelated sustainability challenges. SoGES has numerous opportunities for involvement and academic enrichment. There are multiple interdisciplinary minors, open to students from any college, that can boost your understanding of complex issues in sustainability. The Student Sustainability Center (SSC) is a student organization dedicated to pursuing sustainability on-campus and in the community, open to students from all colleges. Subscribe to the SSC Green Bulletin newsletter to receive updates on campus sustainability and sustainability-related job postings.

Campus Initiatives

Across CSU, departments and colleges are working to create sustainable change. From the 2040 Carbon-Neutral Goal to Earth Month, there are plenty of places to get involved. CSU’s sustainability page, Green.colostate, contains information about initiatives, research, academics, and involvement opportunities across campus. Check out a list of CSU’s sustainability-related student groups or campus-wide sustainability course list for involvement opportunities.

Fort Collins Resources

Communicating Climate Guide from the Sustainable Living Association.