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person walking in desert, dramatic lighting

Photo credit: Serena Sung-Clarke '19 (South Africa, GES, Macalester-Pomona-Swarthmore Consortium, spring 2018)

At Swarthmore College, we are committed to reducing our impact on the local and global environment. With an entire campus community goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035, Swarthmore takes careful steps to account for the carbon we emit and create plans to decrease and offset everything we produce. 

On-campus, the College is pursuing carbon neutrality through geo-exchange and renewable energy as laid out in To Zero By Thirty-Five. Off-campus, the College continues to have an influence on the environment by sending dozens of students abroad each semester. Carbon emissions are measured in three scopes; where Scope 1 and 2 include emissions associated with on-campus energy use, Scope 3 accounts for the off-campus effects of waste, transportation, and off-campus study. Under the umbrella of Scope 3 emissions, the College takes note of all flights taken by students as part of their off-campus study experience. As of July 1, 2022, the College adopted an $11 per flight itinerary Air Travel Carbon Fee to all College paid air travel. This fee was enacted to encourage community members to consider climate impact when making travel decisions. This fee will also serve as a funding source for college-wide emissions reduction efforts and carbon offsets for air travel as part of our commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035.  

Beyond flight offset, the Global Engagement Office dedicates itself to promoting sustainability education among our students going abroad. For an experience we find to be transformational and deeply enriching, we want to ensure our students can make the most out of it while having the least impact on the environment. On this site, you will find various resources (both Swarthmore-specific and more broadly) that outline our commitment and how we are getting there. 

2 students standing in front of a rainwater catchment system
Label: Olivia Stoetzer '23 (South Africa, GES, spring 2022)

As a study abroad student in Cape Town, I try to be aware of my resource use and carbon footprint. With Cape Town's past history of water insecurity, our residence has a rainwater catchment system that is used for our laundry and dishwashers. I try to take short showers and conserve as much water as possible. As a UCT [University of Cape Town] student, I have the ability to take the campus shuttle system all over the city for free, instead of using Ubers that may be more carbon-intensive. Whenever I go grocery shopping, I like to walk to the stores and use reusable bags. And, of course, I always have my reusable bamboo utensils on me for meals to reduce my use of plastic cutlery. I like to be as mindful as possible about how I can make more sustainable choices. 

In the photo: Kennedy Hill '23 and Olivia Stoetzer '23 in front of the rainwater catchment system at Charlton House, where they lived. Both students participated in the Swarthmore-Macalester-Pomona consortium program in South Africa  during spring 2022.



Scope 3 at Swarthmore

Nora Sweeney '24, the current  Green Advisor, shares ways in which the Global Engagement Office attempts to reduce its impact on the local and global environment. The presentation includes tips for sustainable travel!