STANFORD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EARTH SCIENCES - EARTH SYSTEMS PROGRAM

Sustainable Choices

About

Background

Mission

Small choices we make every day affect the health of the planet we share. The Sustainable Choices Web site provides information you can use to make small changes that will have a major, positive impact on our environment. Use it to make decisions at home, at work, and when shopping.

History

Inspired by the Initiative on the Environment and Sustainability, Stanford’s School of Earth Sciences teamed up with a group of students from its Earth Systems Program to create a tool to help ordinary Americans make sustainable choices in their daily lives. During the academic year of 2006-07, teams of interdisciplinary environmental science students—with faculty guidance and expertise—developed categories and guidelines for sustainable choices.

Sustainable Choices

The recommendations on the Sustainable Choices Web site and Card have been divided into the following categories:

In the Home
The home may be the best place to begin to educate your family about making sustainable choices. At home, the biggest impact we have on the environment is through our use of energy and water.

At the Store
When you’re shopping, your impact on the environment may not be as easy to assess. Use the card for guidance before a trip to the store and while you’re shopping—whether it’s the grocery store or the farmer’s market.

On the Road
We all have busy schedules and we all need to get around. But the way we travel really matters, because our greatest impact on the environment may be when we’re on the road. Back To Top

FAQs

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Who developed the Sustainable Choices Web site and Card?
What do the categories mean?
When should I use the Web site and card?
How can I get a Sustainable Choices Pocket Card?
Will it cost me a lot to make more sustainable choices?
What is global warming? Greenhouse gases?
What does sustainability mean?

Who developed the Sustainable Choices Web site and Card?
Inspired by the Initiative on the Environment and Sustainability, Stanford’s School of Earth Sciences teamed up with a group of students from its Earth Systems Program to create a tool to help ordinary Americans make sustainable choices in their daily lives. During the academic year of 2006-07, teams of interdisciplinary environmental science students—with faculty guidance and exper—developed categories and guidelines for sustainable choices.

What do the categories mean?
The recommendations on the Sustainable Choices Web site and Card have been divided into the following categories:

In the Home
The home may be the best place to begin to educate your family about making sustainable choices. At home, the biggest impact we have on the environment is through our use of energy and water.

At the Store
When you’re shopping, your impact on the environment may not be as easy to assess. Use the card for guidance before a trip to the store and while you’re shopping—whether it’s the grocery store or the farmer’s market.

On the Road
We all have busy schedules and we all need to get around. But the way we travel really matters, because our greatest impact on the environment may be when we’re on the road.

Each column of the card contains recommendations based on how easy the changes are to implement, and on the magnitude of their potential benefits. Get Started with easy lifestyle changes, Step It Up when you’re ready to do more, and Go For Green to have the greatest impact.

When should I use the Web site and card?
KEEP IT HANDY! The card’s handy pocket-sized design makes it perfect for keeping handy at all times. Put it in your wallet or purse and pull it out when you need it. Use the Web site when you need extra information, tips, and resources. The Web site will give you a more in-depth discussion of each of the card’s recommendations.

How can I get a Sustainable Choices Pocket Card?
You can download a digital copy of the card on this Web site and print it for your use. Visit "The Card" section of the Web site to download.

Will it cost me a lot to make more sustainable choices?
Many of the recommendations on the card and Web site are simple, inexpensive changes that you can make in your daily routine. Some cost nothing at all, and others have an upfront cost, but will save you money in the long-run. Look for the coin symbols on the Web site to help you decide which measures will be most cost-effective for you.

What is global warming? Greenhouse gases?
Global warming refers to the increase in the average temperature of the Earth. The global scientific community agrees that much of the warming that has been measured over the past century results from emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities, including burning of fossil fuels, cutting and burning of forests, and management and fertilization of crops and other agricultural activities.

The greenhouse effect is essential for life on Earth and is one of Earth's natural processes. It is the result of heat absorption by certain gases in the atmosphere (called greenhouse gases because they effectively 'trap' heat in the lower atmosphere) and re-radiation downward of some of that heat. Water vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas, followed by carbon dioxide and other trace gases. Without a natural greenhouse effect, the temperature of the Earth would be about 0°F instead of its present 57°F. So, the concern is not with the fact that we have a greenhouse effect, but that human activities are leading to an enhancement of the greenhouse effect.

Primarily by burning fossil fuels—oil, gas, and —for transportation, electricity, and heating, humans have dramatically increased the carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. This has resulted in rising temperatures that are predicted to continue to increase and cause widespread global problems: flooding, freshwater shortages, and crop failures to name a few. By taking action to reduce our carbon-footprints on the individual level, we can help to turn the tide on global warming.

What does sustainability mean?
Sustainability has been defined as the ability to provide for the needs of the world's current population without damaging the ability of future generations to provide for themselves. When a process is sustainable, it can be carried out over and over without negative environmental effects or impossibly high costs to anyone involved.

On the Sustainable Choices Team, we see sustainability as a way of thinking that permeates every part of life. Wise decisions sustain not only the natural environment, but also the economies and communities that mean so much to us. We intend for the recommendations of the Sustainable Choices Web site and Card to help people act as good stewards of the Earth, but also to improve their qualities of life and enrich their communities. Back To Top

Partners

Partners

The Sustainable Choices Web site and Card are a joint effort by the Initiative on the Environment and Sustainability at Stanford University, the Stanford University School of Earth Sciences and the Earth Systems Program. The materials within were developed by Earth Systems students and a team of faculty advisors.

Earth Systems Program
The Earth Systems Program, housed in the School of Earth Sciences, is Stanford’s interdisciplinary, undergraduate program in environmental science, technology, and policy (the program also offers a coterminal master’s degree). Earth Systems students share a passion to participate, and a desire to help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. The Sustainable Choices Web site and Card were created by Earth Systems students working with faculty guidance.

School of Earth Sciences
The School of Earth Sciences includes in its mission a commitment to create and effectively disseminate fundamental knowledge; to train student and future leaders; to educate the broader public; and to integrate, synthesize, and apply scientific and engineering knowledge to societal problems, including the sustainable use of energy and water resources. Earth Sciences faculty work in areas including energy, water, land use and land use change, sustainable agriculture, climate systems and climate change, Earth history and processes, and oceans and coastal environments.

Initiative on the Environment and Sustainability
The Initiative on the Environment and Sustainability is part of The Stanford Challenge, a university-wide fundraising campaign launched in 2006. The initiative is a campus-wide effort to mobilize expertise from every corner of the campus to solve the most critical environmental problems of our age. Its central goal is to promote environmental sustainability: helping societies learn to meet their resource demands without undermining the ability of our planet to provide for future generations.

Stanford University:
www.stanford.edu
Initiative on the Environment and Sustainability:
environment.stanford.edu/initiative/initiative.html
School of Earth Sciences:
earthsci.stanford.edu/
Earth Systems Program:
earthsci.stanford.edu/ESYS/Back To Top

Sustainability 101

Sustainability 101

Sustainability has been defined as the ability to provide for the needs of the world's current population without damaging the ability of future generations to provide for themselves. When a process is sustainable, it can be carried out over and over without negative environmental effects or impossibly high costs to anyone involved.

On the Sustainable Choices Team, we see sustainability as a way of thinking that permeates every part of life. Wise decisions sustain not only the natural environment, but also the economies and communities that mean so much to us. We intend for the recommendations of the Sustainable Choices Web site and Card to help people act as good stewards of the Earth, but also to improve their quality of life and enrich their communities.Back To Top