Initiatives

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Counter at a juice store
Over the past decade, University Dining has taken strides towards providing more sustainable and healthier options for students and staff alike. The recent revamp of the “Castle” into a vegan-friendly hub, promotional events such as Meatless Mondays in dining halls, and University farmers markets all point towards progress in the arena of sustainable food. The recent opening of a second Charlottesville location of The Juice Laundry in the space that was once occupied by Freshens in the University Aquatic and Fitness Center (AFC, pictured above) poses new and exciting possibilities for not only sustainability but also community integration and collaboration. 
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3 solar panel rows in a field
On September 17th, 2019, VA Governor Northam signed Executive Order Forty-Three to both expand access to renewable energy and support clean energy jobs.
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OFS Student Employee, Yuki, manages a zero waste station at a UVA farmers market.
Special events are an important part of the UVA experience. From football games to Lighting of the Lawn to Puppies & Pumpkins, there are always special events happening across Grounds. To help reduce the waste sent to the landfill, UVA has encouraged special events to go zero waste or include compost collection when possible.

A Zero Waste Event (ZWE) is an event in which 90% of the produced waste can be diverted from the landfill. This means that the vast majority of waste is either composted or recycled. Out of 243 special events at UVA, an incredible 157 events either achieved zero waste or collected compost, demonstrating departments and student groups alike are making the switch to zero waste events. To make the switch easy, the Office for Sustainability (OFS) recently released an updated version of the Zero Waste Guide to walk event planners through the process.
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Sunrise from balcony in India
The summertime is a great opportunity for students to get out of the classroom and apply their knowledge in various new settings. This type of experience is especially important for students interested in sustainability since the topic requires such a diverse background of understanding and can be applied in a myriad of fields. However, many students cannot afford to take unpaid internships, which could negatively impact their career options post-graduation. The UVA Parents Fund Internship Grant (PFIG) addresses these issues by providing valued funding for unpaid internships.
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Landscape view from a train window
See second year student, Sabrina's tips for green travel!
See second year student, Sabrina's tips for green travel!
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Students post ski trip
Read more to find out about the effects climate change is having on the winter sports industry.
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Students holding succulents and certificates
During the Fall of 2018, the University of Virginia’s Office for Sustainability continued to invest in its Green Living Certification Program. This program engages with on-Grounds residents, encouraging the implementation of sustainable actions in students’ lifestyles. The process involves completing an online pledge, where the participant commits to 20 green living actions, such as switching to reusable shopping bags, reducing food waste and hang drying clothes. These simple steps are a good opportunity to educate UVA students on sustainable behaviors. Once a student becomes Green Living Certified, they receive a succulent, a Green Living Certified door decoration, and a sticker to acknowledge the participant’s efforts.
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Woven basket with green vegetables

One in six Charlottesville residents is food insecure. This means that about 17 people in a general 100-person lecture class at UVA lacks reliable access to affordable, nutritious food (Dictionary.com). This statistic inspired the creation of the Environment & Equity Fellowship at UVA as part of the First Lady’s Morven Food Lab. The lab’s intended purpose is to serve as a physical and organizational space where UVA students and faculty can collaborate with the Charlottesville Food Justice Network (CFJF) and the City Schoolyard Garden (CSG) to explore issues related to food, farming, and sustainability. The fellows, Alexandra Cook, a fourth year Government Major and Spanish Minor, and Jessie Duska, a fifth year Master’s of Public Health Candidate with a B.S. in Religious Studies, work under the guidance of CFJN Director Shantell Bingham. Alexandra, Jessie, and Shantell are working to support and advance efforts to address food justice and equity within the Charlottesville food system.
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Earth shaped print in front of nature background
It is very difficult to change old habits. I mean, I should know; I’ve been biting my nails for as long as I can remember. However, a habit that I have been able to kick is the need to print everything. Before going mostly paperless in college, I used to receive dozens of handouts from high school teachers. Printing hundreds of copies to give to students was usually more convenient than using electronic versions since not everyone was capable of bringing their laptop to school every day. During my first semester here at UVA, I used a spiral notebook for every class but found this to be unnecessary in some of my classes. Each semester, I have started using less and less paper, by ceasing to print online readings and not using notebooks, because I am increasingly environmentally conscious.