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Sustainability & COVID-19

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, we wanted to share some ways in which sustainability at Swarthmore continues to adapt. For up-to-date information about the College's crisis management, please see the main institutional site here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What events are happening for the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day? (4/22)

We have decided to focus on the many national/global events that are being organized! We have compiled a curated list of public events here. We also strongly recommend checking out Earth Day Live, a huge event series between 4/22-4/24!

Is campus composting still operational?

We have paused compost operations for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.  Our campus-wide compost system works because student Green Advisors sort out contamination on daily shifts. However, we have needed to discontinue this practice for several months in light of safety precautions, in the GAs' absence, and to relieve some EVS time.

Compost collection only continues back-of-house at Sharples. Because we will not be able to remove waste stations from building hallways, please note that items thrown into green compost bins will, unfortunately, be sent to the incinerator. Recycling will continue as normal for the time being, although our waste generation overall is significantly reduced during the PA stay-at-home order.

What is happening with the Worthmore Free Store?

Our Worthmore Free Store collects most of its donations during spring move-out each year. At this time, the structure of Spring 2020 move-out is still up in the air. As written on the main COVID-19 website: "We anticipate that students will be able to reserve move-out dates as soon as the stay-at-home order is lifted and the College can safely support move-out operations. This will be no earlier than May 1, 2020, and the order may be extended past this time."

We are working to brainstorm several Worthmore donation possibilities, keeping in mind challenges such as the unknown move-out dates, reduced staffing, and safety standards for donation collections. Thank you for your patience!

What other related campus sustainability initiatives should I know about during this time?
  • Our colleague Tara Webb, LPAC Costume Shop Manager & current Sustainability Advocate, is coordinating an effort to make sure that the hardworking Swarthmore essential personnel that are still on campus have masks as they go about their daily schedules. She writes: "If you are currently making masks at home or are willing to contribute masks to this effort on behalf of our Facilities, Grounds, and other crews, please contact me ( ... I have a very simplified mask pattern and instructions if you are willing to donate 10, 20 or even 50 masks for the effort." You can learn more about her project here.
  • In town, the Swarthmore Farmers Market is partnering with vendors to support deliveries and pick-ups. If you live nearby, you can help to support these local farmers and food artisans. See more information on their website here. To get up-to-date information on vendor offerings, you can sign up for the weekly market newsletter at the bottom of that same website. (Also, consider similar options if you live elsewhere!)

We hope to continue adding to this list - please get in touch! ( Please also explore our website for more information about ongoing sustainability work!

How can I learn more about the intersections of COVID-19, the climate crisis, and environmental justice?

Many resources are noting these intersections. We'd recommend starting with media such as:

Take a look through the GAs' sustainability-related media resources as well (see below).


Green Advisor Guide for Sustainable Living Off-Campus

The student Green Advisors have been working on resources for sustainable living off-campus. This guide is primarily intended for a student audience, but we hope it will be of interest to other community members as well! Please see the drop-down menu version below, or the original Google Doc here.

Curated list of sustainability events & petitions

A list of recent & upcoming events can be found in a spreadsheet here. We are focusing on sustainability events that are national (US), global, or specific to Swarthmore.

We also wanted to bring your attention to 2 petitions, though of course there are many more out there right now:

  1. A Green Stimulus Proposal to Rebuild Our Economy: An Open Letter and Call to Action to Members of Congress
  2. Tell Congress: Support Sen Markey & Rep Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution for a Green New Deal

Food & waste management tips for home

Reducing food waste

  1. Create shopping lists and make weekly cooking plans in order to buy only what you need and will definitely use.
  2. Aim to buy long-lasting ingredients that can be used for multiple dishes down the line.
  3. Explore recipes that make use of remaining ingredients, for example:
    1. Use fruit which has grown soft for baked goods.
    2. Use a spoonful of cooked vegetables as the base for a crock pot meal.
    3. Use old rice in fried rice.
    4. Use leftover grains or roasted vegetables in salads for lunch.
  4. Clean out your fridge or cabinets and see what you can make! You can experiment by listing the ingredients that you have here:
  5. Get creative with freezing food!
    1. Freeze several sets of prepared meals.
    2. Freeze vegetables, fruits, meats, etc. if you know you won’t have a chance to use them right away.

Growing food

  1. Explore how to grow vegetables & fruits in your home! Here are a whole bunch of lists to help you get started:
    1. 10 Edible Plants You Can Grow in Your Apartment
    2. A No-Nonsense Guide to Growing Food in Your Apartment
    3. Apartment Gardening for Beginners
    4. Creating a raised bed on the balcony
    5. How to grow a living pantry to eat this winter
    6. How to Grow Your Own Food Even If You Live In a Tiny Apartment
    7. Plant A Veggie Garden

Starting to compost at home

  1. Explore composting options that you can do at home (there are many types!). Here are some resources to help you get started:
    1. All You Need to Know About Indoor Composting
    2. Compost City: Practical Composting Know-How for Small-Space Living (2015 book by Rebecca Louie ’99)
Energy reduction tips for home
  1. First and foremost, learn about energy systems in your own home! Conduct an informal energy audit. Some things you’ll want to consider are:
    1. Heating & cooling systems 
    2. Insulation, sealing, & ventilation
    3. Electricity
    4. Explore further guides here:
      1. Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audit Guide
      2. Worksheets for yourself or children
  2. Pay careful attention to what is actively drawing energy, for example:
    1. Turn off lights when not in use
    2. Turn off and, ideally, unplug appliances when not in use. Some things to keep in mind:
      1. Remember that a ceiling fan cools people, but not the room itself, so leaving a fan on when you're not in the room only wastes electricity.
      2. Many devices draw “vampire energy” even when not in use. Power strips are a great way to prevent this issue. Set up your work space with a power strip, so that you can turn off/on your computer, monitor, lamp, etc. with ease.
  3. Open the windows on warm days. This will allow for a cross-breeze to naturally cool your home. Also, it's a great way to air out any built-up humidity.
  4. During the daytime, switch off lights and open window shades to use natural light to light your home. However, during the hottest parts of the day, keep shades closed to block sunlight and keep rooms cooler.
  5. Use microwaves, crockpots, and toaster ovens for smaller meals. This will help you avoid using the oven, which sucks up energy and heats up your home. When you cook with a stovetop or oven, you can end up heating up your kitchen and adjacent rooms by several degrees.
  6. Change the settings for lights that are on a timer. You may have set indoor or outdoor lights on a timer so there’s light when you get home. Now that the afternoons are getting longer and you are probably staying inside much more, you may be able to reset it for later or turn it off altogether.
  7. Use cold water to wash your clothes (and consider air drying them). Similarly, aim for shorter, colder showers.
  8. Turn off your dishwasher’s dry cycle and let your dishes air dry.
  9. Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
Professional resources for sustainability job/internship-seeking

Some listservs & job boards

General advice for “cold” emailing & informational interviews

Finally, an additional resource: A Guide to Green Careers

Sustainability-related games & media

Games, apps, & Citizen Science projects

  • Bikemap: shows local cycling routes | free
  • BiomeViewer: interactive site that teaches about biomes | free
  • Coral Reef: app that teaches about sea creatures | $2.99
  • Farming Simulator: farming simulation game  | $19.99-$24.99
  • Forest: app to help with focus by planting fake trees | free
  • Freerice: website where the more questions you answer, the more money is raised to donate food | free
  • I Love Potatoes: silly app about potatoes | free
  • iNaturalist: plant/animal identifying app | free
  • Minecraft resources (search the tag “environment”)
  • NASA ClimateKids: website with various interactive resources about climate | free
  • NASA Global Climate Change: another website with various interactive resources about climate change | free
  • WWF Free Rivers: app that teaches about rivers | free
  • Zooniverse: platform for many different Citizen Science projects | free


A few decent lists of movies & television shows

A few good lists of books, as well as search tools for audiobooks/ebooks


This page is still in development! Please email if you have additional questions or resources to share.