Santa Clara University


Reduce waste

Ways to take action: Reduce Waste

With only one planet in a closed-loop system (where physical matter can change form, but never exit our world nor disappear completely) and with a finite amount of natural resources and space for landfill waste, we must all reduce our consumption whenever possible.

Ideas for reducing waste:

  • Avoiding one-time use containers like bottled water, take-out containers, and plastic bags
    • Fill up your reusable container at our water bottle filling stations 
    • Join the campus Eco-Tray program
    • Opt for a fabric or canvas tote bag when shopping
  • Choosing products with less packaging
  • Eating only what you can finish or saving leftovers 
    • Try bringing Tupperware-like containers when dining out
  • Reusing or re-purposing what we already have 
    • Check out Pinterest or our boards for inspiration
    • Design an outfit for the annual Eco-Fashion & Art Show with worn-out clothes and  recyclable or waste items
  • Saving money for memories rather than products 
  • Giving the gift of an experience or do-it-yourself (DIY) gifts
  •  Not purchasing unnecessarily or as frequently
    • Clothes: Embrace vintage and hand-me-downs; host a clothing swap party with friends. After the event, donate the rest. And if a new outfit is absolutely needed, go thrift store shopping, which has already-existing, new-to-you clothes. Buying new ones create more demand for companies to supply more. 
    • Electronics: Staying loyal to your current computer, tablet, or phone and not buying the latest every time. Corporations partake in what is known as “planned obsolescense.” This is the intentional production of consumer goods that are designed with nondurable products with hard-to-repair or limited quantity of spare parts. The goal of many corporations is to make as much profit as possible, so they frequently sell a “good product” and promote it as the “better product” in order to phase out the earlier model. Often times, this becomes unnecessary as the first version sufficiently gets the job done.
  • Joining Stop Junk Mail San Jose to keep your mailbox from flooding with unwanted mail and to reduce your household waste


See our Sustainability Update for a monthly “Take Action,” where we offer tips to reduce, reuse, recycle, and respect regarding a myriad of topics. To sign up for this e-newsletter, please email

For questions about waste diversion, visit our FAQ page.

Recent news

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

In previous years, Santa Clara used over 3000 individual single-use plastic bottles for Commencement ceremonies. This year, that is not the case. SCU is joining a growing number of schools to celebrate Commencement without single-use bottled water.

Graduation is a pinnacle for many SCU students, friends and family. While planning Commencement sans bottled water, it was important that the reputation and integrity of past commencements be upheld. It is exciting and progressive that SCU will be holding our first bottled water free graduation while maintaining the University’s values and character.

As an alternative to bottled water, all graduates and stage members will be given a reusable bottle. The largest events are Undergraduate Commencement and the Alumni Picnic, taking place at Buck Shaw Stadium and Bellomy Field. Guests are encouraged to bring their own reusable bottle to the ceremony, where they will be able to fill up at the various refilling stations. There will also be compostable cups for those who do not have their own bottle.

This decision was inspired by the Think Outside the Bottle campaign on campus, a student group that promotes public water systems over corporations that privatize and bottle water. In the United States, public water systems face a $23 billion investment gap annually compared to the bottled water industry. Marketing by bottled water companies has damaged people’s confidence in tap water, even though bottled water is far less regulated and often comes from municipal sources (tap water) anyway.

There is a growing trend of U.S. colleges and universities reducing bottled water sale and distribution on their campuses. During this year’s graduation season, many additional colleges and universities will be hosting Bottled Water Free Commencements, including Mount Holyoke, Sewanee University of the South, and Oberlin College. Public health, environmental concerns and the human right to water are all reasons why students and universities across the nation are taking a stand and supporting the human right to water over private gain.

By hosting bottled water free Commencement ceremonies, SCU is drastically reducing our waste, as well as promoting the need to reinvest in our public water systems. Not to mention, we are one of the first universities in California to do so! This move shows Santa Clara’s integrity and responsibility to uphold our sustainability and social justice values, as well as our commitment to zero-waste and Climate Neutrality.

Contributed by Kelsey Baker '14, Sustainability Intern, Communications

Tags: Did You Know?, Waste, Water

Contact Us

Center for Sustainability
Santa Clara University
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053