Colleges lead the way on green initiatives

Robert Keren / EARTHTALK Middlebury College students who complete a free class on bicycle repair are rewarded with a free discarded bike. Q: What are some ways I can get my college to be more green? — BILL OTT, TROY, NEW YORK A: In recent years, colleges and universities have recognized the capacity for their independent communities to lead the nation as examples of sustainable and carbon-neutral institutions. Colleges in the U.S. and around the world have introduced conservation measures to reduce waste, installed solar panels to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and promoted shared vehicles to reduce carbon emissions, among other initiatives. Many colleges have followed the lead of Stanford University’s “Green Campus” program by replacing disposable plastic utensils with organic alternatives. Cutlery made from potato starch and sugarcane allows students to simply put all waste in compost bins, including the utensils themselves. This compost is reintroduced in turn as fertilizer for use on university gardens. Reusable mug programs accomplish similar goals. At Portland Community College in Oregon, bringing your own mug gets you a 5-cent discount per drink, while other colleges with meal plans offer...

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