Sustainability Café reduces environmental impact


Using paper straws instead of plastic is one simple way you can reduce your impact on the environment. D&M Coffee is one of the first businesses in Ellensburg to offer paper straws.

Cassandra Hays, Scene Editor

Environmental conservation is a topic that has gained traction worldwide in recent years. College campuses around the country have taken steps to become more “green,” and CWU is no different. The Sustainability Café strives to make the campus and Ellensburg community more environmentally friendly through events and educational outreach.

The Sustainability Café is a quarterly event that aims to bring together students, faculty, staff and administration to work on and eventually complete sustainability projects on campus. The Café focuses on environmental issues such as climate change, carbon footprints, ocean suffocation, and pollution. Their mission is to make CWU a leader in enhancing environmental sustainability as well as reducing the impact the university has on the community.

Danielle Palmer is an administrator who is involved in the Café. She says that students often lead groups and discussions, despite the fact that most of the Café attendees are made up of faculty, staff, and administrators. She adds that seeing students getting involved with sustainability efforts has been inspiring.

“To see students who are here to get their degree, and [Ellensburg] may not be a permanent place for them, but they still care,” Palmer said. “That’s really exciting to see because that’s where change is going to happen.”

Every time the Café meets, projects and events are planned to enhance CWU’s sustainability. Each project has a leader and a specific group of students, faculty and staff. This quarter, the Café planned nine projects designed to educate the community and make the campus more environmentally friendly.

One of the events is Earth Day, which involves the Environmental Club and will take place on April 18.

“The main goal of [this event] is to bring in some community partners and bring awareness on campus to sustainability efforts,” Palmer said.

Another event being put on in May is Bike to Campus Day. Students will be encouraged to bike rather than drive to class to reduce their carbon footprint.

Another event being put on in May is Bike to Campus Day. Students will be encouraged to bike rather than drive to class to reduce their carbon footprint.

Samuel Gutierrez, a student involved with Sustainability Café, explains why they chose to put on the event.

“We want to talk about what carbon emissions mean for your footprint in general and how to reduce it by riding your bike, especially if you live in the core circle around the school,” Gutierrez said.

The Sustainability Café will also be putting on campaigns to reduce waste in residence halls as well as dining. Food waste from dining will be weighed every day for a week to demonstrate how much food is being wasted, at which point there will be opportunities for composting. According to Palmer, composting is the best way to make food waste useful.

To reduce waste in residence halls, the Café plans to hold a competition to see which hall can recycle the most. They will also be educating students on what can and cannot be recycled, as well as encouraging students to use multi use water bottles among other steps to increase environmental sustainability.

According to Palmer, all events and projects being planned by the Sustainability Café are designed to have large impact with minimal cost. They want to increase awareness within the community about environmental issues and take steps to make the campus more environmentally friendly. Palmer points out that everyone should care about sustainability because everyone is affected by it.

“I think the environment in general is all of our responsibility,” Palmer said. “We only have a limited number of resources. Especially here in the Pacific Northwest we’re blessed by this beautiful landscape…we need to protect it, and our university needs to protect it as well.”

CWU now has a sustainability website ( which has resources including Sustainability Café project information and a sustainability map. The sustainability map displays where certain resources, such as bike racks, refillable water stations, and recycling bins, are located.