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USC Green Week: A look into USC’s sustainability efforts

USC Green Week gives students and faculty the opportunity to address the university’s sustainability strides, from reducing plastic waste to the goal of becoming carbon neutral.

Today, USC kicked off their second annual Green Week. The entire week will be filled with a multitude of sustainability-focused projects and events. With USC’s recent sustainability efforts, we thought we’d get students and staff to share their thoughts on how the university is doing with achieving their goals.

Today officially marks USC’s second annual Green Week. The entire week involves a variety of projects and activities centered around sustainability, and kicked off with the Arizona State-USC zero waste football game over the weekend. During the game’s halftime, President Folt made a video addressing USC’s continued efforts to promote sustainability. But this is just one of the many ways USC hopes to celebrate the sustainability-focused event, as USC dining halls serve a meatless menu, and the USC Peace Garden encourages students to volunteer.

Green Week goes hand-in hand with Assignment: Earth, “a holistic commitment to addressing the impacts of climate change and creating a more sustainable future.” The initiative seeks to accomplish multiple sustainability goals, including climate neutrality by 2025, diverting most of USC’s waste from landfills, reducing our water use, and doubling sustainability research.

Sara Stienecker, Chair of the Campus Infrastructure and Sustainability Committee, highlights working directly with the university’s sustainability staff and commends the university’s efforts.

SARA STEINECKER: I do sit on the president’s working group on sustainability, so I do get to see the presentations on it. And I’m very excited for what this university is going to be doing because I think we are making a very big effort to make sustainability one of our core points, and I think the Assignment Earth Project will help us get there.

Mark Gangi, a USC professor who lectures on sustainability and the environment, says he has also seen improvements in the way that USC approaches sustainability.

MARK GANGI: It seems like they’re doing really well. You know, what happens is when you you know, let’s say looking at the school’s waste stream, which seems to be a big a big part of of what they’re doing. Right. And, you know, just having those different containers and talking about it really brings it into the minds of everyone on the campus and and will change behavior.

Gangi also complimented USC’s commitment to prioritizing sustainability in and out of the classroom, putting it at the forefront of the university’s vision.

MARK GANGI: You know exactly what the school’s doing to be more sustainable. It’s how it’s using that as a teaching tool and engaging, you know, the minds of, of, of our school population as they engage in solving these problems.

But despite these recent strides, students continue to have their criticisms.

Connor Castillo, co-director of Environmental Student Assembly, expressed his concerns.

CONNOR CASTILLO: I’d say they are definitely putting in a lot of effort to reach net zero waste by 2028 to coincide with the Olympics. My only fear is that some of these goals that they put out are a bit too broad or general, and I think that’s the roadmap to get there. For many who may not be within the Office of Sustainability or who just may not know a ton about USC’s goal wouldn’t really know how exactly we would get from point A where we are now to point B in 2028 where we’re hopefully at net zero emissions.

The university says sustainability is a priority. In an email sent out on Thursday, Mick Dalrymple, USC’s chief sustainability officer, made several announcements on sustainability efforts, including a postdoctoral fellowship program and a new sustainability data hub.

As President Folt has said, “we’re all in this assignment, together.”