Sustainable Western

Western State Colorado University is actively engaged in improving environmental awareness and sustainability efforts through student, faculty and staff led initiatives. These currently include:

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).



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


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the community and students. The purpose of this organization is much like a thrift store. The difference is that anything you see at FreeCycle is free for you to have. Please come to FreeCycle and take anything you would like!


FreeCycle is located in the basement of the Ute Residence hall. Be aware that if you  are trying to get into Ute hall during the FreeCycle hours, the FRONT AND SIDE DOORS  ARE LOCKED! The only way to get into FreeCylce is from the back entry way. There is a  sign behind the residence hall that directs you to FreeCycle.

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

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.

Environmental Charter
Carbon Commitment Plan
(formerly called ACUPCC)
Institute for Applied Sustainability
School for Environment & Sustainability



MEM Graduate Faculty, Professor of Recreation and Outdoor Education
B.S., University of New Hampshire; , M.A., Harvard Graduate School of Education;, Ph.D., University of New Hampshire.
Phone: (970) 943-2118
Office Location: Wright Gym 223