A Sustainable Playbook for 2023

The Center for Sustainability’s ideas to help the SCU campus change for a better tomorrow.

A Sustainable Playbook for 2023

For nearly twenty years, SCU has worked tirelessly to promote large and small-scale actions that Broncos can participate in to help the earth. This year, the Center for Sustainability, along with the Division of Mission and Ministry, is working with more than 80 stakeholders to identify and prioritize crucial campus changes as part of our university’s strategic plan. This Sustainable SCU: Leading Through Laudato Si’ planning process is oriented around 5 key operational areas. So if you’re still looking for a new year’s resolution, check out our suggestions for ways you can make better, stronger, and faster changes to build a more humane, just, and sustainable world:


It’s no secret that Broncos love to learn. And while we all enjoy occasionally ripping through a good true crime thriller, why not focus once a month on a poem, essay, or book that highlights justice for the earth? Beyond the usual suspects like Bill McKibben or Wendell Berry, it’s becoming increasingly easy to check out some new sources – expand your genres by dipping into a literary journal featuring new BIPOC voices like EcoTheo Review, learn about crucial environmental justice issues in the Western U.S. in High Country News, or enjoy SCU Senior Lecturer Emeritus John Farnsworth’s recent book Nature Beyond Solitude: Notes from the Field.



It’s easy to remember to support your favorite local businesses on Small Business Saturday, but let’s not forget building a thriving community the rest of the year by moving away from the siren call of cheap goods with free shipping from companies with questionable labor practices. Better yet, why not get to know your neighbors by participating in your local Buy Nothing group? You’ll never know what free treasures you can pick up next door andreduce waste at the same time!

Living on campus? Help our extended Santa Clara neighbors by taking an extra ELSJ course or, for faculty, get involved with community-based research through the Environmental Justice and the Common Good Initiative.


Living, working, or learning on SCU’s beautiful campus with visible sustainability initiatives can lull us into a false sense of complacency about the need for personal contributions. Still, it’s important to continually ask yourself, “How can I make sure my time at SCU is focused on growing greener?”

If you’re a student, find your fellow Broncos who are deeply committed to environmental work on campus: volunteer with the Food Recovery Network, the Forge Garden Club, the Glean Team at the Forge Garden, or get involved with organizations like SCU Environmental Action (ENACT), Green Team, and Into the Wild.

If you’re faculty or staff, consider participating in our new Sustainability Workshop Series co-promoted through HR’s Mission to Wellness program or participating in our Sustainability Across the Curriculum workshop – there are lots of resources for using the campus as a living laboratory for applied sustainability learning.


We’re already working hard to draw down energy usage but there’s more to be done. Beyond investing in more efficient technology like LED lights, or making behavioral changes to conserve energy, let’s find ways to bring about these changes faster. Media Services offers a great example: they closed and shut down computer labs for 22 days during our recent holiday break, saving 630 kWh!

Transportation also plays a major role in greenhouse gas emissions. Let’s challenge ourselves to fly and drive less by utilizing all those online tools we learned during the start of the pandemic.


Recycling and composting are commonly practiced sustainability behaviors. But we can be so much more effective when we reduce waste from the start – eating a plant-rich diet and eliminating food waste (two lifestyle habits supported by The Forge Garden) are some of the most impactful practices to draw down climate change. Discover a new habit-forming practice like a zero waste / zero plastic / 1,000 hours outdoors year-long challenge. Looking for something unique? You may have heard of the Danish cultural tradition of hygge, but their Swedish neighbors offer a new trend – plogging (picking up litter while jogging). What a great way to combine multiple resolutions!

But more than just practicing self-care for our world and physical selves, how about enriching our spiritual selves? As a Catholic university, let’s more deeply integrate our personal values into ecological causes. After all, we’re called to be environmental stewards who care for our common home. There are so many organizations across campus offering opportunities to reconnect with or rejuvenate our passion for the cause. One favorite of ours: The Ignatian Center’s weekly lunchtime examen.

We hope these ideas have inspired you to engage with some easily integrated natural, economic, social, and well-being possibilities. If you’re eager for more ideas, check out our Sustainability Playbooks – localized to SCU and based on your campus role. After all, these small steps add up to lasting habits that enhance our community’s efforts!

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Flight and Food

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