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Sustainability General Information

Western is committed to sustainable endeavors and environmental initiatives on a day to day basis. Western must be at the heart of the never ending duty to innovate and implement new environmental initiatives, because if academia does not  promote sustainability, then who will?

Campus Involvement

Whether you are looking to dedicate your lifestyle to becoming an environmental steward or want to accomplish a project that is affiliated with sustainability, there are venues that can be found to be useful to your efforts. Working on environmentally friendly issues allows individuals to make a concrete difference in our campus and community. Taking these actions we begin the process of adhering to the values our campus teaches by finding the contradictions of what our campus promotes and what our campus does. Taking actions towards sustainability, results in meeting like-minded people, developing leadership skills, exploring career options, and learning about local or global issues that affect us. Here are a few ways you can get involved:

  • The Sustainability Fund provides Western students access to the financial resources to initiate projects that support Western's use of more sustainable and renewable energy, reduce unnecessary consumption of goods, increase reuse of usable goods and recycling of materials, or promote the ethical stewardship of all resources and land on the Western State Colorado University campus. Click the button below to learn more about the Sustainability fund!

    Sustainability Fund

  • Groups on Campus: The Organics Guild (OG) and the Sustainability Coalition are Westerns premier environmental groups on campus. They meet weekly and engage in a multitude of activities. The OG is highly involved with the Pinnacles Greenhouse, and an active part of putting locally grown food on Western's menu. Talk to the Environment and Sustainability department in Kelley hall to get more involved!
  • Sustainability Coordinators: The Sustainability Coordinators are a paid position on campus, and is made up of highly motivated and involved individuals on campus. They dabble in all types of sustainability initiatives, but spend much time educating students and putting on environmental events on campus. Contact Sara Phillips or the LEAD office to learn more! Located in the University Center.
  • Sustainability Action Committee (SAC)is a collective of professors and administration who improves environmental awareness, stewardship of natural resources, and resource efficiency on campus through implementing the goals of Western's Environmental Charter. This is a closed meeting however volunteers are welcomed at their three subcommittees, the Outreach & Education, 3R's (Reduce, Reuse & Recycle).

  • Sustainability Course Inventory


At Western recycling is not just a random act. It is a part of the culture of Western.

  • Recyclable materials include, plastic #1, #2 and #6, aluminum, steel (cans), glass (clear, green, and brown), magazines, newspaper, office pack paper, and cardboard!
  • Recycling bins are located in ALL building on campus. When living in one of the residence halls, recycling containers are provided to all residents, and are picture coordinated with the large collection bins located outside each residence hall.
  • Recycling is picked up weekly by facilities
  • Western competes in RecycleMania, a nationwide competition to see who recycles the most Click the button bellow to learn more!

Tips for Greener Living!

  1. Ride your bike around town
  2. Turn the heat down and wear a sweater. Shut All windows tightly!
  3. Open windows when nice, turn off the air conditioning!
  4. Put all electronics on a power strip. IMPORTANT-turn off the power strip at night and when you leave
  5. Turn off all lights
  6. Bring your reusable bags/backpacks to the grocery store
  7. Don't use bags whenever possible
  8. Use non-toxic cleaners. You can even make your own, check out to learn how!
  9. Take cooler showers
  10. Limit long, hot showers to decrease energy use
  11. ALWAYS use a reusable water bottle, rechargeable batteries, use double-sided printing and reuse school supplies
  12. Shop local. Shop second hand. Shop durability
  13. Get Outside!
  14. Use the bus or car pool
  15. Recycle properly and recycle often-No caps or contents
  16. Contribute to community gardens
  17. Give away unwanted belongings rather than throwing them out, or participate in FreeCycle located in the basement of Ute Hall
  18. Wash clothes in cold water; use a drying rack
  19. When eating at Rare Air Cafe, don't take more food than you can eat and compost what you can
  20. Get involved--become a member of the Western's Sustainability Coalition or Organics Guild.  Find out more by stopping by the LEAD Office in the College Center, Office 118 and speak with one of the Sustainability Coordinators

Sustainable Student Idea's


Student Sustainability: An Inside Look to being a Sustainable Undergrad

Sign Up for the Student Sustainability Coordinator's Powerstrip Power Pledge

When appliances that don’t need to be on 24/7 (like phone chargers,coffee makers, TV’s, stereo’s, computer chargers etc.) are plugged into a power strip, you can easily turn off all of these appliances with one easy click.  Many electronic appliances use energy even while in the “off” mode(any appliance with a glowing light that stays on constantly is drawing unnecessary energy, and many appliances draw energy even without a glowing light), this is called phantom loads. According to an informational sheet in the average home, more than 50% of electricity used to power electronics is consumed when the appliance is turned “off”.  By plugging these appliances into a power strip, and turning the strip off when not in use, you cut the appliance off from using any unnecessary energy.

When you sign up for the Power Pledge a free power strip will be delivered to your residence hall room at a scheduled time.   The sustainability coordinators or Green team volunteers will deliver the power strip and educate you on proper power strip use- so you're saving electricity, not just plugging more electronics into the outlet.  Participating in the Power Pledge is a great way to get into the habit of saving electricity for when you're living on your own and paying your own bills.  Contact to sign up today!

Give Your Car A Break

You can easily bike and walk around Gunnison, the town itself is barely over 2 miles wide and tall! If you are heading up to Crested Butte or Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR), check out the RTA bus schedule. Service between Gunnison and Crested Butte is extended for the ski season and free!! 

Paper or Plastic? Neither. .

With reusable shopping bags available at most grocery stores (they are definitely available at City Market and Safeway here in Gunnison!), there is no reason to use paper or plastic bags.  Paper and plastic bags require constant resource extraction from our planet due to the nature of the bag material.  Reusable bags, like cloth ones available from stores, will last longer then conventional shopping bags and cut down on your personal resource use as well as the litter and waste produced by paper and plastic bags.  Many grocery stores also give 10 cent discounts per bag to costumers that bring their own bags.  Reusable bags are also great for toting books and binders to class, or towels and sunscreen to Blue Mesa!


CFL stands for compact fluorescent lamps (they work just like incandescent bulbs), and they have many benefits that incandescent can’t match.  They are significantly more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, they are less expensive over the lifetime of the bulb (they last 10 times longer than conventional bulbs!) despite being more expensive to purchase.  CFL’s save far more money because of their energy efficiency than incandescent, therefore you spend less money over the lifetime of the bulb, which makes CFL’s cheaper than incandescent bulbs.  Please look at to see energy saving statistics and other benefits of CFL’s.

Participate in Do-It-Yourself Workshops

On the second Tuesday of every month during the 2011-2012 school year, the student sustainability coordinators will be hosting Do-It-Yourself workshops, highlighting different ways students can live more sustainably in Gunnison.  This is a great way to get involved with different students, discover the Gunnison valley in a new way and learn valuable tips on living sustainably.  Please see the D-I-Y calender of events here.

Make Your Voice Heard

Making sure your ideas are heard is just as important to sustainability as reducing your impact or shopping local.  There are many ways to get involved with sustainability at Western.  You can join the Student Sustainability Coalition or the Organics Guild, both are student run clubs on campus that has made numerous accomplishments, including the solar panels on Kelley Hall and the composter in the dining hall.  Email for meeting times.  Speak with the Student Sustainability Coordinators about any ideas or suggestions you might have.  They are students just like you, and can assist with any projects your interested in, or point you in the right direction to make your project happen.  Email the student sustainability coordinators at


Being social in college an exciting part of the experience.  While alcohol or drug abuse is not condoned, taking responsibility for your social life, as well as for your impact on the planet are both necessary to a healthy body and healthy world.  Reuse your cup when you're at a party, and try to avoid using disposable cups if possible.  Always recycle aluminum cans and glass bottles--30 pack drink boxes make great recycle bins!  Be conscious of your consumption by finding out how far your favorite drink has to travel to make it to the Gunnison Valley--the farther the distance, the more fossil fuels used to get it here, which makes it less sustainable.  Drinking from local breweries can be more sustainable and a fun way to come to know the place you live.

Local Food

There are many options for eating locally in Gunnison, which can not only be more healthy, but is far more sustainable for the planet and it helps your local economy.  Gunnison has a wonderful farmers market every Saturday during late summer and early fall, visit for more information.

Campus Garden and Greenhouse!

The first place to stop for local food in Gunnison! We have our very own Greenhouse (located by the fire pit on Pinnacles Hall) and our own Campus Garden with a Hoop House (located on the South side of Chipeta Hall)! Both are faculty headed, and student run programs on campus, and are always looking for eager students to work and help out year round! Talk to Dr. Jonathan Coop about getting involved! Everyone who helps gets to eat some of the food produced!

The Local Market

New to Gunnison's Main Street, but tried and true at agriculture game is The Local Market, owned by Cathleen Curry of Tomichi Creek Natural Beef. Their mission is to provide Gunnison and Crested Butte with only local, fresh, nutritious food, while offering the hours and convenience of going to a standard grocery store. They only carry food that is in season, or products that have been canned and dried to last! Delicious food and a pleasant atmosphere (unlike the pale illumination of the supermarket) makes this place a must. Go get some good food and learn about the Gunnison valley! Located across from The Bean and and next to treads and Threads, at 111 North Main Street!

The Farmers Market

Open from Spring through Fall, both Gunnison and Crested Butte have Farmers Market's. Gunnison's is open every Saturday, while Crested Butte's is open every Sunday (during the growing season). Both offer ton's of awesome varieties of food and local creations! Check them out and get great food for great prices! The Farmers Market is also a great place to network for potential jobs in the valley.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

CSA's are a great way to get local foods year-round! CSA's vary, but there are three big ones available to residents in this valley: White Buffalo Farm, Local Farms First and Black Canyon Foods. Split the cost of the CSA with your roommates and get ton's of delicious, local food every week!

White Buffalo Farm

Sign up with White Buffalo to receive a box every week, every other week, etc. that is filled with foods from White Buffalo Farm as well as other local goods.  Students get a discount on boxes!  Visit to sign up and get more information

Local Farms First

Visit for an online farmers market that connects you with 40 local farms, and gives 100% of the profits to the farms you’re ordering from.  You can order just about everything you can imagine, from fruits and veggies to meat, dairy and prepared and baked goods.

Black Canyon Foods

Visit Http:// for another online delivery hub for local foods.  This website also offers many goods that you can order as Ala carte items, as well as pre-made boxes in varying sizes and kinds of food.

Western Through The Years

Sustainability is a concept that fits well at Western State Colorado University.

Here is a list of sustainability related happenings at Western throughout the years.

1990: 1st Annual Headwaters Conference
1996: 1st Annual Environmental Spring Symposium
1997: 1st Annual Water Workshop
2001: Environmental Studies Major
2002: 1st Wind Energy Fee (became the SGA Sustainability Fund in 2007)
2005: Creation of Western's Environmental Charter
2005: Community Garden installed
2007: Borick Business building - LEED Silver Certification, Western signs ACUPCC & President creates the Climate Committee Ad Hoc Group (SAC), 1st Xeriscape Garden, near Kelley Hall
2008: Kelley Renovation - LEED Gold Certification
2009: Sustainability hits the Strategic Plan of Western, Solar Panels on Kelley Hall roof, Recycling Efficiency with Dr. Scott Cohn
2010: University Center Building - LEED Gold Certification, Earth Tub Composting, Applied Institute of Sustainability established
2011: Individual Building Monitors, 2nd Xeriscape Garden, near Kelley Hall, Energy Retrofits in Residence Halls, World Cafe & the launch of Western Sustainability Blueprint, Student Sustainability Coordinator position develops
2012: Sodexo Signs Real Food Challenge, Optional Renewable Energy Fee
2013: Summer Environmental Leadership Camp for High School Students, Greenhouse in the Pinnacles Apartment complex, Greenhouse in Chipeta Hall Garden, Sustainability Video