Campus Climate Action Corps

reduce our carbon footprint RCOF logo

Climate change, because of human activities, is a severe matter impacting us all. As a result of climate change, we are experiencing adverse conditions including a rise in sea level, an increase in rainfall leading to a higher frequency and levels of flooding and other natural disasters, extreme temperatures, decreased air quality, limited resources, and the heating of our planet.

Unfortunately, our actions are a primary cause of climate change. Our extensive use of non-renewable resources, such as fossil fuels, coal, gas, etc. increases greenhouse gases (Carbon Dioxide, Methane, etc.) in our atmosphere and causes global warming. This, along with the increasing amounts of power we use, solid waste we produce, land we develop, and excessive amounts of water we consume, all contribute to the issue of climate change and the degradation of our planet. 

Just as climate change is caused by our actions, combating climate change is also possible through our actions.

Without changes to our consumption, these issues will lead to irrevocable injury to natural systems, our communities, and livelihoods. Nonetheless, we can address the looming climate change issue together! 

How to Reduce Our Carbon Footprint

Learn more below and follow along on Instagram (@environmentalfellows) as Stetson's Campus Climate Action Corps shares facts and best practices on how to reduce our carbon footprint on and off campus. 

Have questions or want to get involved? Contact our Climate Action Team Leader Kathryn Carpenter at [email protected].

Lighting at Stetson

Lighting is an essential aspect of our lifestyles; however, every time you flip a switch greenhouse gas emissions are released into the environment. The majority of the electricity required for our lighting is associated with the release of emissions as fossil fuels are burned for energy. About 15 to 19 percent of our global energy consumption is the result of lighting (UN). Changing our lighting systems and only using lighting when needed is the stepstone to making our homes, other buildings, and outside locations that require lighting more energy efficient. 

  • You may have noticed automatic lighting systems across campus. 
  • Stetson has been working on an initiative to replace incandescent light bulbs with more energy-efficient, LED lights.
What Can You Do? 

What types of lights should you avoid using?

Incandescent, halogen, HID, or T12 fluorescent lights are inefficient, releasing more emissions and costing more than other forms of lighting (Energy Star).

What types of lights should I use?

Incandescent light bulbs, a traditional light source, is a commonly used, but inefficient light source. By switching from incandescent to LED lights we would reduce our carbon footprint and, in an average household, we would save more than $225/year (U.S. Department of Energy).

What else can I do?

Turning off the lights when you leave the room is a simple way to reduce your emissions. Also, using electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar panels and hydropower means that there are no GHG emissions from your energy use.

Heating and Cooling at Stetson

In the United States, we have widespread access to heating and cooling technologies that keep us at a comfortable temperature. These technologies have protected us from extreme temperatures, improved air quality, and boosted our productivity. Ironically, these same technologies, such as air conditioning units, have contributed to the problem of global warming as they use energy from fossil fuels. The United States is home to 40% of all air conditioners and about 25% of the energy produced globally is used for heating and cooling (MIT). AC units also leak hydrofluorocarbons into the atmosphere, an intense greenhouse gas that is hundreds of times stronger than carbon dioxide at heating the earth.

  • Stetson has a Chilled Water loop system that runs below our feet on campus. 
  • Temperature controls of dorm rooms on campus are an essential part of saving energy.
  • Stetson’s Temperature Guide
What Can You Do? 

Setting your thermostat to the right temperature can have huge benefits toward energy efficiency and reduce the need for higher maintenance.

  • Increase the temperature settings during the cooling period and decrease the temperature settings during the heating periods. Adjust the temperature setting to 75 degrees in the cooling period and 68 degrees in the heating periods.
  • Provided the room has adjustable thermostats, adjust the thermostat to 82 degrees during cooling periods and 55 degrees during the heating periods when leaving the space for periods exceeding several hours, or in the evenings, over weekends, and during semester breaks.
  • Adjust the thermostat to the automatic setting where possible.
  • Turn ceiling fans and other fans off when leaving your office, room, or classroom.
  • Keep windows closed during hot and cold periods.
  • Keep exterior doors shut to prevent the entry of hot, humid air.” - Stetson University Conservation Policy 

Certain heating and cooling technologies use more energy and are less efficient than others. HVAC units are more energy efficient because they help prevent air leaks and can use up to ⅓ less energy than older systems.

Food Waste at Stetson

About a third of the food produced in the United States (30-40%) gets wasted. The food waste is generated by: bad crop growth methods, spoilage in storage or transport, missed produce during collection, produce being unable to be sold, food getting damaged in transport, supermarkets or restaurants not using all of their food, people not using the produce they bought, and people throwing away their leftovers. As this waste decomposes, the GHG emissions of carbon dioxide and methane are released and contribute to global warming. 8-10% of all global emissions come from food waste rotting.

Did You Know? 
  • Stetson Dining Services makes food sustainability work one of its missions. Clear bins are set out to collect food waste and show the student body the food that gets wasted.
  • Food pulpers are used to grind food waste and make it more compact to take up less space at landfills. It reduces trash bag use from 12 to 1 as food is dried and compacted.
  • Students, staff, and faculty are primarily using reusable, biodegradable bamboo plates, bowls, and cups in the CUB, which reduces paper and plastic waste. 
What Can You Do?
  • Only take what you can eat - More than 22 million pounds of food are wasted on campuses annually (Food Print). The average college student throws away about 142 pounds of food every year With Stetson’s current population of 3,670 students an average student food waste amount would equal: 3,670 x 142 = 521,140 pounds of food waste.
  • Compost food waste when possible - Only about 5% of our food waste gets composted in the U.S. (EPA). Composting reduces the release of methane emissions and enriches soils.
  • Educate others about the importance of reducing their food waste - Learn more about “Clean Your Plate” campaigns around the world.

Buying Local

“It is not just that food travels the globe; rather, the whole system of producing, processing, and marketing is globally organized and governed by transnational corporations, global trade institutions, and increasingly, global financial markets.” (Food and Society, page 183)

Did you know that more than 70% of McDonald’s French fries and hash browns served in 38,000 restaurants in 119 countries come from only three large suppliers? JR Simplot, McCain Foods, and Lamb Weston (Food and Society, page 162). Potato farms and processing plants, located around the world, produce potatoes for these three suppliers.  Potatoes go through an extensive array of procedures to become French fries and hash browns: the large suppliers buy seeds from farmers around the world, contract with growers to grow the potatoes for them, and then sell them to production companies to be processed. Processing methods include cooling/freezing, heating, milling, cutting, fermenting, and more. After processing, they are stored, distributed, marketed, and then ultimately sold to the consumer (Can Fixing Dinner Fix the Planet?, page 78).

In terms of labor, the food system process looks a little like this:

Growers → workers→ Sellers→ eaters

Unfortunately, many environmental and social issues have arisen as a result of the large-scale and complex food systems of today. The many steps involved in the growing, harvesting, storage, processing, and distribution of our food are proving to be detrimental to the environment, negatively impacting human health, and contributing to our global carbon footprint:

  • In 2015, 71% of greenhouse gas emissions from food production came from agriculture and land use (irrigation, milling/tilling, clearing/burning of land, etc.). Retail, transport, consumption, fuel production, waste management, industrial processes, and packaging comprise the remaining 29%. All of these processes require high levels of energy. 

  • The production of food transported over long distances produces more greenhouse gas emissions than food sourced locally. Although transport is not the greatest contributor to emissions in this production chain, of all transport methods, transport by air is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Although some food processing techniques can increase the original nutritional value of the food itself (addition of vitamins and minerals), others result in highly processed foods that load up salt, sugar, and fats, resulting in very unhealthy edible products.

  • Small-scale farmers don’t have access to the same resources or opportunities as large corporate farms. They continue to be challenged by the lack of distribution, processing and marketing infrastructure that would give them market access to large-volume customers.

Why Buy Local? 

  • Local foods are typically less exposed to the many steps within processing and distribution than food transported over longer distances.

  • You have a better chance of knowing where your food is being sourced from and what specific processes it underwent.

  • Buying whole organic foods from a local vendor or farmer is a healthy choice.

  • You help support your community by buying from your local markets and farmers.

  • Local farmers who sell directly to consumers cut out the middleman and get the full retail price for their food, which helps farm families stay on the land.

  • Local food consumption is one of the fastest-growing food trends with sales increasing in the US from $5 billion to $12 billion between 2008 and 2014.  A trend that continues today. 

  • And, of course, buying locally from smaller farmers means you are also reducing your carbon footprint drastically.

What is Considered Local?

  • There are many definitions of what is considered local. It can range from food being grown, produced, and distributed in a radius of less than 100 miles from the product’s origin to a radius of less than 400 miles, or even to just being within the state limits. Nonetheless, anything that is in your community and has been sourced right from your community can be considered local. 

How to Buy Local in DeLand: 

  • There are many different locations within DeLand and not too far from campus where you can buy locally. This includes the Farmer’s Market every Friday in Downtown DeLand. Or going to one of the local farms such as Vo LaSalles Farm, Pauline’s Lucky Market Garden, and more. The Volusia County Fairgrounds are also known to have farmer’s markets every once in a while, with farmers coming together to sell their produce.

Increasing our natural environment and green space is another way to combat climate change and protect biodiversity and wildlife. The more we develop the land around us, the less environment there is to sustain us and the less biodiversity, including trees and other plants, to help curve the amount of Greenhouse Gases being released into the atmosphere. This is because plants themselves require carbon dioxide to grow, and in exchange, they release oxygen for us to use.

As such, having biodiversity is crucial for our survival and functioning. Having green space with natural landscapes and native plants is also known to produce positive effects on our mental health and overall well-being. As well as producing many positive ecological benefits. Biodiversity can help sustain the natural balance of ecosystems, as well as support wildlife. Nonetheless, there are many solutions to help increase green space and biodiversity, and this can start in your very own backyard.

Water is essential to us as we rely on it for our many needs— drinking, washing, cleaning, agriculture, energy, and so much more. However, although we may be surrounded by plentiful water, water is not as easily accessible to us as we may think. Our overconsumption of water and the heating of our oceans due to climate change is leading to an overall depletion of our water sources.

In addition to this, as we attempt to search for more sources, we are putting a strain on our planet and inducing many other environmental issues. Nonetheless, we must think about the amount of water we use, whether on campus, at work, or in our homes so we can protect our water sources and the environment. We can conserve water by doing simple things such as taking shorter showers, reporting any signs of water leakages, installing low-flow toilets, partitioning our laundry loads, and much more. Reducing how much water we use saves us money by lowering our utility bills.

About Campus Climate Action Corps 

The Campus Climate Action Corps (CCAC) is the first nationwide AmeriCorps program solely dedicated to campus-based, community-led climate action. CCAC works with partners to build their capacity to lead initiatives for increasing energy efficiency and improving at-risk ecosystems by implementing local solutions for underserved households and communities. 

Stetson University is one of ten campuses across six eastern states serving as inaugural host sites for the CCAC program. The Hatter CCAC chapter launched in August 2023 under the leadership of Kevin Winchell, Director of Community Engagement, and Kathryn Carpenter, Climate Action Team Leader. Stetson's Climate Action Team also includes three students: Phoenix Medley, Environmental Fellow; Anuket Goins, Climate Corps Energizer; Avery Brooks, Climate Corps Energizer. 

The first initiative on their Climate Action Plan is a public awareness campaign called Reduce Our Carbon Footprint focused on promoting actions everyone can take to reduce our carbon emissions.