Environmental Responsibility, Student Handbook | Earlham College
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Environmental Responsibility

Taking care of our environment is an important value at Earlham.

Our institutional mission of “engaging the world” is demonstrated by care and concern for our College surroundings.

Earlham College’s Strategic Plan (approved in 2012) calls for an integration of academic programs with co-curricular life “which cultivate a campus environment of civil engagement, responsible use of resources, and appreciation of diversity.” In its section on Simplicity, Principles and Practices (2005) asks each of us to consider, “Am I careful about how I use both human and environmental resources?” and “Do we as a community work for an environmentally responsible and sustainable future?”

The College’s approach to sustainability is outlined in the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan, written during the 2011-2012 academic year and updated during the 2015-2016 academic year. The plan defines sustainability as such: “Sustainability is the continuous effort to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs by working toward a healthy environment, social justice, and a strong economy.” The Comprehensive Sustainability Plan aims to make sustainability a key factor in the curriculum, community, and operations at the College. A Climate Action Plan will join the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan to help guide Earlham in its mission to be environmentally responsible. You can read the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan on the Office of Sustainability page at www.earlham.edu/sustainability.

The College also has a Sustainability Advisory Committee (SAC). The SAC will “be charged with assisting the sustainability coordinator in determining college sustainability priorities using the sustainability plan for guidance, tracking progress on the sustainability plan, and leading sustainability planning processes in the future.”

Sustainability Practices at Earlham

Practicing sustainability is one way for Earlham’s community members to live out environmental and social values fundamental to the College’s overall mission of education “carried on with a concern for the world in which we live and for improving human society” (as described in Earlham’s Mission Statement).

Opal Thornburg stated in her history of Earlham College, “The past is prologue, and that past can provide light to illuminate the years ahead.” Sustainability practices today build on Earlham’s rich history of reducing consumption of pre-packaged, transported food and energy and of reusing discarded, donated items in both practical and ingenious ways, as in the following examples:

Earlham College was self-sustaining from its inception in 1847 until at least as late as 1872. Earlham’s “fruits, vegetables, cereals, and meats were provided largely by the school garden, orchard, and farm ….” (Thornburg)

From 1904 until 1947, at the urging and financial assistance of Earlham’s engineer, Marmaduke Gluys, electrical current was economically generated at the College as a by-product of the heating plant, using secondhand machinery.

During the coal shortage that began in 1917, the College community saved heat and energy by: turning radiators off in vacant rooms, using hot water sparingly, getting up 1/2 hour later, and going to bed 1/2 hour earlier.

Building upon these examples from Earlham’s past, our mission is to discover ways of implementing sustainability in campus life today and for the future.

Recycling at Earlham College

Earlham has a single stream, comingled recycling system. Recycling is provided by the Earlham Facilities Department, the Sustainability Office and Aramark in partnership with Best Way. The program continues to grow; if you have a need for containers, please let Aramark know. There are also external recycling bins located throughout campus provided by Earlham College in partnership with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. These containers, constructed of recycled commodities, are for comingled items.

Throughout the year there are special recycling opportunities such as book recycling, electronic scrap recycling and other initiatives. Watch for these and participate!

Products that Can Be Recycled at Earlham

All comingled bins on campus (excluding college owned houses) can take:

  • #1 and #2 plastics
  • All glass
  • All steel, tin, and bi-metal containers
  • Any color, weight, or texture of paper
  • Telephone books, magazines, catalogs, and newspaper
  • Corrugated cardboard and paperboard

If you are unclear about what can be recycled, visit
www.earlham.edu/facilities/what-do-we-do/recycling-center for more information.

Recycling in College Owned Houses

It is the responsibility of occupants to comply with the recycling guidelines for the City of Richmond. Generally the City of Richmond recycles glass, cans, plastics and newspaper without glossy inserts. The City does NOT recycle cardboard through the residential program. Items should be placed in the blue Richie Rollers provided at the curb on the appropriate bi-weekly pick-up date. For a comprehensive look at where to recycle items in the Richmond and Wayne County area visit Richmond Recycling Resources. Students wishing to recycle cardboard boxes should break them down and can take them to the bins located east of Facilities building.


Energy conservation and efficiency are key elements of the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan. Efforts to reduce energy usage across the campus include efficiency upgrades and behavioral change methods. Students in computer science working groups have installed real time campus wide energy metering that is displayed on their website as well as installing building level energy meters on several residence halls. Data from building meters is displayed at an energy monitoring kiosk in the entrance to Dennis Hall. Earlham also has begun participating annually in the Earlham Energy Wars, as a competitive way to encourage students to conserve energy in their residence halls.

Students can help conserve energy in the residence halls by:

  • Turning off lights when leaving a room for more than 5 minutes
  • Unplugging unused appliances and turning off power strips at night
  • Washing clothes in cold or cool water
  • Air drying laundry
  • Using natural daylight instead of artificial lighting when possible
  • Closing windows when the heat or air conditioning is on
  • Putting energy efficient light bulbs in desk lamps and other additional lighting
  • Making use of the kitchen refrigerator instead of purchasing personal mini fridges


Composting services are available to all students in the dining hall and college-owned houses. All plant based food and napkins from the Dining Hall can be composted. Meat, eggs, and dairy based products should not be put in the compost bin. Compost from the Dining Hall and the College Houses is picked up by student workers and taken to Miller Farm on a regular basis. Composting can also be arranged for campus events. Contact the Assistant Director of Sustainability to make arrangements.

Dining Services at Earlham

Metz Culinary Management, is a partner in sustainability through initiatives such as supporting composting efforts in the dining hall, working to increase local and sustainable food purchasing by building a local foods network, recycling used cooking oil for biodiesel, and several energy efficiency updates in the kitchen equipment. Dining services continues to offer ample vegan and vegetarian options for student dining, and will hire a coordinator to increase sustainability efforts. A new student chapter of the Food Recovery Network (a national organization) was established last year. Metz cooperates with the student chapter by saving any excess food that has not been out on a line and freezing it for weekly donations to a local food pantry, the Circle U Help Center.

Striving to be Green

Earlham College is endeavoring to enhance the greening of buildings by increasing the use of technologies to minimize the consumption or discarding of resources. From a simple initiative like installing recycling centers and locations in each building to complex energy management systems, Earlham is striving to green our environment. Some other initiatives are:

  • Develop, use, and/or purchase clean and renewable energy
  • Increased utilization of resource management systems
  • Constructing all new buildings to meet LEED standards
  • Increasing the amount of locally grown and/or organic foods offered through dining services
  • Replace older campus vehicles with alternative fuel vehicles
  • Develop an Integrated Pest Management program to promote the health of humans and non-pest wildlife while still maintaining attractive campus grounds
  • Implement campaigns to reduce waste and water use on campus

Earlham is home to several student groups involved in promoting sustainability. From biking to farming, everyone can find a way to get involved in sustainability on campus!

Earlham Environmental Action Coalition

The Earlham Environmental Action Coalition is the primary student environmental activism club on Earlham’s campus. In the last year EEAC has launched a ReInvestment Campaign to move funds in the college endowment out of coal companies and into renewable energy companies, taken buses of students to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline project in Washington DC, engaged students in Earlham’s principles and practices around sustainability, and organized volunteer efforts and fun activities like bike rides to local apple orchards. For more information, contact the Assistant Director of Sustainability.

Bike Co-Op

The Earlham Bike Co-Op is a community space for the sharing of bike mechanic skills, a place for students to learn to fix their own bikes for free, and an organizing hub for bicycle activism in Richmond. The Bike Co-Op hosts monthly Critical Mass bike rides through the city to promote biking as transportation, as well as hosting bike-friendly events and rides throughout the year. For more information, contact the Director of Student Leadership.

Rose City Coffee Co-Op

Earlham’s student run, consensus based coffee shop- Rose City is a great place to witness sustainability business design at work. The coffee shop offers only fair trade coffees and teas, organic milk and soy milk products, and eco-friendly beverage containers. Rose City Coffee Co-Op is open Sunday-Thursday 2:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. - midnight. For more information, contact the Director of Student Leadership.

Student Sustainability Corps

Student Sustainability Corps is an internship program open exclusively to Earlham students. Students of all class years and backgrounds are encouraged to apply for internships during each semester and the summer. Internships are focused around three applied group areas: Major Events, Campus Engagement and Operations. Additionally, there is a Student Sustainability Leader position for a junior or senior student with previous Student Sustainability Corps experience. Students can apply for positions at the beginning of each academic year through Symplicity which can be accessed through TheHeart (portal).

Eco Reps

The Eco-reps program works to model sustainable living practices in college residences in order to promote sustainable living behaviors. Eco-reps are student volunteers that live in the dorms and work with the Sustainability Office on a variety of ongoing campus sustainability initiatives. Each dorm aims for 2-3 Eco-reps who serve as dorm resources for all things sustainability related as well as help coordinate sustainability themed events and programs. Programs frequently include serving as dorm captains in the annual Energy Wars competition, hosting movie screenings, and no-bake cookie making. If you are interesting in serving as one of your dorm's Eco Reps contact the Sustainability Office.

Food Recovery Network

The Food Recovery Network unites students on college campuses to fight food waste and hunger by recovering perishable food that would otherwise go to waste from their campuses and communities and donating it to people in need. Earlham's chapter began in 2015 in partnership with our Dining Services Provider, Metz Culinary Management. Any unused food that hasn't been put on the line in the dining hall is saved and weekly donations are made by student volunteers to local food pantries. To get involved, please contact the Sustainability Office.

Earlham and the city of Richmond are home to many sustainability sites available for students to visit and explore.

Cope Environmental Center

The Cope Environmental Center has miles of trails open for public use and, during heavy winter snows, can make a great place to try out some snow shoeing or cross country skiing. Cope also has several demonstration areas to learn more about sustainability, gardening, compost and natural history.

Wildman Woods

Wildman Woods is a wonderful Earlham treasure located within a short drive from campus. Often the site of Biology field work and class field trips, Wildman boasts hiking trails through an excellent stand of old growth hardwood forest. During the late Spring, the wildflowers are magical! A walk through the forest and along the creek during peak fall colors is also a memorable experience. The property is maintained and managed by the Biology department so special permission is required before visiting.

Back Campus

Located within easy walking distance from the main campus, “Back Campus” is a special place. Miles of trails wind through a mixed hardwood forest. Ephemeral ponds, put in place by the Biology department, provide habitat for aquatic invertebrates and “herps” of all kinds. Clear Creek runs through the woods and provides opportunities for solace and quiet and the chance to spot a resident beaver family. The Biology department also manages a small prairie which comes into full bloom in late summer and provides habitat for loads of butterflies and bird species.

Richmond Farmer’s Market

Open Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings May through October, the Richmond Famer’s Market offers students a chance to purchase locally grown produce, plants, and handcrafted items. The Farmer’s Market is located in downtown Richmond.

Winter Farmer’s Market

Open every second and fourth Saturday morning mid-January to April, the Winter Farmer’s Market is located at the Starr Academy at 301 North 19th Street. The market offers locally grown produce, homemade baked goods, and other handcrafted goods.

Being green involves each one of us doing our individual part. We look forward to working together to make Earlham an environmentally and socially sustainable place for all.

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Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admission


Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.