How to be a sustainable Trojan

USC hosts events educating students about sustainability practices.

Photo of Earth week banner on USC campus

It’s Earth Month, and USC is taking out the trash. To recycle, of course.

As part of the month’s festivities, the university is hosting several different sustainability-themed events, including “E-Waste Collection Days,” where university officials collected 11 laptops, 60 CPUs, 20 headsets and 50 phones for recycling, as well as a workshop on “How to be a Sustainable Trojan.”

Over the course of three days, USC Human Resources, Equity and Compliance, or HREC, set up bins at various locations where students and faculty could drop off old electronic devices.

“We always try to give our items that we’re recycling a second or third life to avoid diverting toxic metals, glass, and plastic to the landfills,” said Anthony Rodriguez, a USC hazardous materials supervisor.

According to Rodriguez, HREC recycled 337,000 pounds of electronic waste last year. The lead organizer of the event, Emily White, explained that all devices collected are wiped by the publicity team and then wiped again by a contracted company.

Additionally, HREC has an outreach program that expands their reach beyond the borders of the university.

“We donate [devices] to schools when we can,” White said. “We go to the 10 schools within USC first, and then we go to the community at-large.”

On Wednesday, the USC Staff Assembly hosted “How to be a Sustainable Trojan,” a workshop where students and faculty learned about USC’s sustainability efforts and how to personally help the university in achieving its goals.

Some long-term goals presented at the event included increasing sustainability courses by a count of 10 each year, doubling sustainability research by 2028 and achieving climate neutrality by 2025.

Brad Haydel, associate director of the Office of Sustainability, was the main speaker and shined a light on the digital resources USC offers, including sustainability progress reports, a sustainability map and newsletter to stay informed on interactive events and statistics.

Traveler is another tool the USC community, especially those who commute, can use to reduce their carbon emissions footprint. The webpage includes information on a carpooling program, a network of free buses and informs faculty and staff of their 50% transit subsidy.

Haydel also said energy management is a priority, so USC has increased energy efficiency over 15% and a quarter of USC’s electricity is provided with power from a solar farm in Mojave.

The events also encouraged students to take personal measures such as using natural lighting as much as possible, keeping thermostats at 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter and unplugging devices when not in use.

USC has also installed low-flow faucets and water meters to provide real-time usage data as well as deployed weather-based irrigation sensors. If students are able to, they are encouraged to donate food to the Trojan Food Pantry.