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.

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.

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.”


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!

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Next steps

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.