Contribute to sustainability on campus with these clubs, courses


Collegian | Lucy Morantz

Dale Lockwood and Diana Wall from Colorado State University’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability pose for a photo outside of Johnson Hall Aug. 2, 2022. They encourage students to get involved with on-campus sustainability efforts in a number of ways, including reaching out to the Student Sustainability Center on social media, adding one of four GES minors and applying to become an Eco Leader. “The (Ecosystem Science and Sustainability) Club continuously discovers new things to do because as new students join, they bring their passion to it,” Lockwood said. “As students come and go, the topic changes and expands.”

Ivy Secrest, Life and Culture Director

If you are new to the Colorado State University campus this fall, you may immediately notice the commitment to being green that is prevalent all around you. 

From classes your advisor has suggested you take to the composting posters all over the dining halls, it is likely obvious the saying “Rams take care of Rams” extends to the environment in which the CSU community resides. 


Many incoming students may be new to sustainable practices, and if you are interested in participating in the movement, some of the easiest ways to do so are education, action and participation. 

“There are so many opportunities out there that it can be hard to find the good ones,” said Sarah Williams, president of the CSU Society for Ecological Restoration Student Guild. “So hopefully we can put people in touch with those.”

SER is one of many organizations that students can join in an effort to be more environmentally conscious. They provide hands-on events where students can participate in building dams or collecting seeds, and they allow students to network with people working in the field if they are interested in pursuing sustainability. 

Other opportunities include the Zero Waste Team and Eco Leaders, who guide students in more campus-focused sustainability efforts. 

“With how tangible the results are and how much of an impact we really make, there’s a lot of benefits to Zero Waste,” said Rachel Lilley, the social media officer of the Zero Waste Team. “Our main focus is making sure the compost line remains clean.”

“One thing that every student on campus is doing for sure is relying on human power for transportation. If you get around without burning fossil fuel, that’s a big positive for the environment.” -Peter Backlund, School of Global Environmental Sustainability associate director

The Zero Waste Team sorts compost at basketball games and makes an effort to maintain sustainable practices on campus, a goal they share with the broader CSU community. 

“A lot of students come to CSU because of the reputation they have for not just sustainability but environmental science and conservation and a lot of things related to sustainability,” said Peter Backlund, associate director of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability at CSU.

There are also annual sustainability reports from Housing & Dining Services, local composting and a large portion of classes and practices dedicated to making CSU a leader in sustainability. 

“Where I’m from, I didn’t really know what compost was until I moved here, and it’s really nice that we have our own compost facility because there aren’t that many compost facilities in Colorado,” Lilley said. 


CSU students have the opportunity to make a real commitment to sustainability, whether it is through clubs or even their education. 

“We try to promote sustainability concepts across all the colleges,” Backlund said. “One thing students can do is take the sustainability minor offered through my college.” 

Even without taking on sustainability-focused minors and majors, students can still educate themselves via sustainability-focused courses available to all colleges. There are financial sustainability courses, environmental literature courses, environmental ethics courses and so much more beyond science courses. 

And if even that feels like too much of a commitment, there are many personal practices students can follow. 

“One thing that every student on campus is doing for sure is relying on human power for transportation,” Backlund said. “If you get around without burning fossil fuel, that’s a big positive for the environment.” 

If students wish to take it a step further, they can reduce their personal waste through thrifting, composting and eating locally sourced foods or even going vegetarian or vegan once or twice a week if not full time, Backlund said. 

“I’ve been trying to thrift and find as much as I can on Facebook Marketplace, and I feel like for incoming freshmen, that’s also a really good place to look,” Williams said. “I mean, you can go to Target and buy all of your essentials, which is still affordable, but there are so many students looking to get rid of things.”

Especially when living in the dorms, it can be hard to feel like you have control of your impacts, but there are still so many things to do to create positive change. 

“I always separated my compost,” Williams said. “They don’t give you a bin, but I would have a separate bag. The compost is right out by the trash, so if you’re already going out, (you) might as well make sure that you are composting what you can. That’s a really easy step because they make it so accessible for us.”

Truly the focus for students who wish to be involved in the culture of sustainability should be being aware. Educate yourself and utilize the resources provided to you to become more educated on the issue, whether that is through clubs or classes. 

Reach Ivy Secrest at or on Twitter @IvySecrest.