In spring of 2021, Barnard Sustainability and the office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will launch a unique initiative called “Circular Campus.”
We are exploring practices and policies designed to reduce waste, emissions, and costs, reimagining patterns of consumption on campus, and increasing access and affordability for our students. Circular economy strategies can help increase equitable access to course supplies and textbooks, and engaging with local communities.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, switching to renewable energy can only reduce our collective greenhouse gas emissions by 55%. The remaining percentage of emissions comes from the way in which we make, use, and dispose of products and food. In 2016, we found that these emissions are responsible for 59% of Barnard’s total carbon footprint. These emissions can be addressed by replacing our linear model of production and consumption with a regenerative model in which materials and products are reclaimed, repaired, and re-introduced into production of “new” goods. These closed-loop systems are referred to as ‘circular economy’ solutions.
The Circular Campus is divided into three major areas of focus: reuse and access, waste stream diversion, and food and dining. Policies and programming would promote the purchase of locally and sustainably sourced new items as well as initiate a robust ecosystem of exchange for students, faculty, and staff.
In light of COVID-19 and the recent events across the country, our community will need to come together to find a way to rebuild sustainably and equitably. We believe that circular economy strategies are one way to begin to address and dismantle environmental racism by creating more equitable systems of consumption, on our own campus and hopefully in future in collaboration with our local community. This is one small step, but we hope you will join us.
Sign up to join the the Circular Campus Working Group.