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Sustainable Students - Planning for Climate Change at a Campus Near You

Tiffany Traynum

Posted October 16, 2012

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CSD 2012 logo.jpgYou know you’re starting to get old when you find yourself using phrases like, “Kids thesedays” and “Back in my day”. Nonetheless, that's what happens; not so long after leaving college life. You find yourself displaced from the carefree lifestyle you once had (at least that’s how you choose to remember it). You begin to take notice of the cultural, societal, and yes, environmental changes that are impacting not just you, but your community as a whole. There’s no need to ask yourself, who’s the driving force behind the change and evolution surrounding you? It’s who it has always been—young people.  Today, one of the clear priorities of our younger generation is to mobilize in order to make a better, healthier future for this planet. Lucky for us there’s plenty of enthusiasm and opportunity to do just that.  But where do we start? We start by educating ourselves and having the sometimes difficult, yet exciting conversations that lead to a better future for everyone young and old.

One exciting opportunity presenting itself comes from our friends at Second Nature, preparing to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Campus Sustainability Day - a national day of action and reflection on the success of the sustainability movement in higher education. While diverse and ever-changing, the sustainability movement does exist. Practitioners of sustainable living look to reduce their carbon footprint by altering their ways of transportationenergy consumption and diet--aiming to conduct their lives in ways that are consistent with natural balance and respectful of the Earth’s ecology cycles. The majority of our younger generation is invested in this concept, realizing the value of not only educating others on sustainable living, environmental hazards and safeguards, but educating themselves by obtaining the skills and experiences necessary to prepare for a changing climate, society, and economy.

Campus Sustainability Day (or CSD), October 24th, is a nationally celebrated day dedicated to the sustainability movement; in particular its success’s and needed steps to gain momentum in higher education. Young people at colleges across the country will connect and build alliances to educate themselves on integrating sustainability principles and practices on their campuses and in surrounding communities. It all begins with one webcast/virtual conversation live-streamed on campuses, in coffee shops, dorm rooms, and event halls across the country. The first CSD was kicked off in 2003, and by 2006, more colleges were clamoring to get involved as the day became institutionalized and a much anticipated fall event for campuses eager to be a part of this ever-growing movement. Last year, the webcast entitled: A Useful Education: Sustainability in Admissions, Retention, and Educational Value, focused on the experiences and insights of several students, with a Q&A portion that included an all-day dialogue with questions and video responses from students, admissions officers, college administrators, faculty and staff from 50 campuses across North America. In addition, there were 75 specials events—Temple University had an exciting Green Fair—both submitted and hosted by participating colleges committed to raising the bar for sustainability leadership.

While I graduated from college longer ago than I’m willing to admit (before the first Campus Sustainability Day), I thought I’d check out my Alma mater, California State University Long Beach, to see how they are preparing for this important day. I stopped by The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) website, clicked on my school, and found they are hosting an event titled: Why We Care, on the date of the broadcast:

Financial Management, Physical Planning & Facilities Management, ASI and the campus Sustainability Task Force are hosting a “Why We Care” event, one of many activities throughout the week-long celebration of Eco Week and the 10th annual Campus Sustainability Day to communicate and promote campus sustainability. Please stop by the event to see the displays and join in on the activities.

You will learn about environmental impacts occurring today due to non-sustainable habits, as well as the sustainable practices that CSULB has already implemented and what YOU can do - on campus and in your personal daily life. There will be campus, city and vendor displays, as well as refreshments and raffles. Pledge to begin a sustainable practice and receive a re-useable water bottle. Visit and obtain 6 booth stamps to participate in a raffle to win a brand new bicycle donated by Jax Bikes.

Attend the “Why We Care” event and join in on CSULB’s commitment toward sustainability and our celebration of Campus Sustainability Day 2012. Go Green! Go Beach!

Very cool. And yes it’s that easy folks! But the time is approaching fast; click here to see if your community campus is already participating and join the movement.  Don’t miss your chance to take part in CSD’s regional conversations; help create a best practices guide on educating students for a changing climate, join a gathering or even host your own event. Tune in on October 24th at 11am PST. Additional student liaisons are needed now! You can even nominate that eco-conscious friend of yours always waiting for an opportunity to have his next soiree. You never know who may show up! And the best part? – you can go as big or small as you want.  Register today for  Second’s Nature’s webcast and stream it  live from your living room kegger (did I say that?) or have a take advantage of the Halloween season by hosting a big party to see who shows up in the most sustainable costume (I hear the Brawny Man is quite popular). Just submit your event and put the word out.

Of course you don’t have to be young to mobilize, educate yourself, adopt or instill in others practices that will have long-term effects on the health of this planet. But it helps. We (did I say we?) have the endurance, stamina, and often-times fearlessness to ask the difficult questions and take action. So don’t just raise your glass—get moving.  Here’s to a successful Campus Sustainability Day near you.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit

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