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Library Sustainability Committee

The mission of the Library Sustainability Committee (LSC) is to educate, develop awareness, and to promote an internal culture that integrates sustainability into the daily habits of the Library community.  

The Library Sustainability Committee's Charge

  • Serving in an advisory capacity to the Library, the committee develops and recommends comprehensive strategies and institutional practices that promote sustainability, including measures to make more efficient use of resources as well as decrease production of waste

  • Collaborates with various Library programs to promote sustainability in the workplace

  • Educates the Library community, using various communication avenues, about sustainability topics and promoting sustainable practices within the Library

  • Collaborates with various groups on campus to share information and best practices related to sustainability

The UC San Diego Library has sustainability built into its strategic plan. In support of this goal, the Library sponsors the Library Sustainability Committee (LSC), an internal, staff-run committee charged with making recommendations for greener practices within the Library and also sharing sustainability information and best practices with Library staff. Much of this information fosters knowledge and practices that transform lives at work and at home.

The Triple Bottom Line is a way to approach sustainability holistically. Being able to recognize the incentives gained by addressing three interconnected sustainability dimensions (economic, environmental, and social), organizations look to positively impact their bottom line. Taking this same approach empowers the Library to both justify and embed sustainable values into our organizational culture by streamlining operations, conserving resources, diverting waste, and ensuring an equitable and socially just workplace.



LSC has developed a number of programs and initiatives that have transformed the Library’s sustainability practices in ways large and small. Whether by working collaboratively with other campus groups to bring hydration stations into the Library or creating internal programs to recycle and upcycle office supplies and promote green buying practices, LSC works every day to green the Library and its work spaces and to engage staff at home and at work in support of UC San Diego’s sustainability goals and mission.

LSC-Sponsored Programs


  • Digital Cleanup Week: In coordination with our Library IT, staff are provided scheduled time to cleanup their digital work footprint. Unnecessary emails, files, apps, duplicates of photos and videos are all digital waste. This digital waste creates digital pollution that continues to consume energy even when we have forgotten it.
  • Staff Green Training: Staff are invited to take part in a recycling sort, learn about green products and Library sustainability initiatives, and catch up with what LSC and the Library have to offer.

  •  DIY Makers’ Day: Every April as part of the campus’s Earth Month celebration, the Library hosts a DIY Makers’ Day fair and invites the entire community to enjoy creating a variety of green DIY projects, such as planting succulents, creating cleaning and personal care products from green materials, making buttons and other items from recycled book covers, and more.

  • Summertime Swap:  Library staff bring in items from home that they’re ready to pass along and other members of the Library and janitorial staff are invited to take what they want. Leftover items are donated to a thrift shop.

  • Fruit & Veggie Exchange:  Every summer, when gardens are bountiful, staff bring the fruits (and veggies) of their labor as well as other items related to food and gardening to share with one another.

Waste Mitigation

  • Loaner Cup Cart: To reduce waste, LSC provides a book cart stocked with reusable cups and mugs for staff events. Employees who bring their own cups or take one from the cart are entered into a raffle to win green prizes.

  • Refill Not Landfill: LSC collaborated with students to install a water refill station for refilling water bottles in the Library. Encouraged by the success of that first station, the Library has since installed 6 more, including one in a staff area. The stations have registered well over 500,000 refills.

  • Office Supply ReHome: The Library has many divisions, each of which orders its own office supplies. Often one division will have superfluous supplies that another could use or individuals will have materials that they are no longer using. The ReHome is a central clearing house for these items. LSC collects, inventories, and redistributes these supplies for use in the workplace. Each quarter there is an open house, but staff may request supplies as needed. The Library saves $500 to $1,000 annually through the campaign.

  • Writing Instrument Brigade:  Each year, LSC collects approximately 2,500 used-up pens which the campus sends to Terracycle for upcycling. Containers for pen collections are in staff areas as well as on all public service desks.

  • Staff Kitchen Composting: Providing counter-top compost bins in staff kitchens for users to place their kitchen scraps. Daily volunteers take the compost to a larger campus compost bin that supports the Campus initative of working towards zero waste.

Green Products

  • Cleaning Supplies: LSC inventoried cleaning supplies in all staff kitchens, identified those containing toxic ingredients, and researched earth-friendly substitutes.  After working with the Library to order green replacements, LSC consulted with campus facilities on hazardous waste disposal, then collected and properly disposed of toxic supplies in accordance with campus guidelines. Staff kitchens are now clean and green.

  • 100% Post-Consumer Recycled Paper: LSC worked with Imprints, the Library’s printing and copying vendor, to supply all public copiers and printers in Geisel Library and WongAvery Library with 100% post-consumer recycled paper. The Library has also switched to recycled paper in staff areas. In 2014-15 the number of pages printed in public areas alone was 2,479,837. By switching to 100% post-consumer recycled paper the Library has saved over 300 trees per year.

Presentations and Publications

Internal Publications

  • Holiday Gift Guide: Updated annually, this holiday gift guide provides a wealth of ideas for green, sustainable, and fair trade gifts, as well as links to organizations and vendors.

  • Slack Channel (#sustainable-library):  Any Library staff member is welcome to contribute to this Library Slack channel. Messages feature sustainability initiatives and events on campus and in the wider community.

Select Presentations and Publications


  • San Diego EarthWorks E.A.R.T.H. Award (2016): LSC (then ESG—the Environmental Sustainability Group) was awarded the Environmental Action & Restoration That Helps award for projects involving reducing use, recycling, green buying, and education.

Suggestions for Sustainability

LSC has listed below a wide range of actions you can take to be more sustainable on campus and at home. Some of these suggestions are specific to certain work environments, but many are relevant to everyone in any situation. Take a look and see how many you can try out!

Reduce & Reuse

  • Choose natural fiber cloth napkins when eating.
  • Choose reusable dishes and eating utensils.
  • Create a program for sharing reusable dishes and eating utensils.
  • Bring your own cup.
  • Bring your own reusable straw.
  • Bring your own lunch.
  • Use reusable or biodegradable filters for coffee machines.
  • Choose reusable bags for shopping and lunch bags.
  • Choose cloth rags for cleaning.
  • Choose reusable tags or straps when lending items.
    • For example, how UCSD Interlibrary Loan uses reusable straps for the books they lend.
  • Avoid distributing plastic bags unless requested.
  • Collect scrap paper for reuse; trim documents if possible.
  • Print double-sided on network printers.
  • Eliminate desktop printers when possible.
  • Make use of reusable supplies at events to reduce catering waste and cost.
  • Share surplus office supplies.
  • Use custom shipping programs to make use of reusable packaging.
  • Reuse boxes, envelopes, and shipping materials.
  • Use rechargeable batteries.
  • Encourage virtual meetings to avoid travel.
  • Use Google Docs for collaboration.
  • Conserve energy: Turn off electronics and lights when not in use.
  • Communicate electronically versus in print.
  • Use digital PDFs instead of physical copies.
  • Use electronic billing.
  • Reduce number of invoices required for payment.


Choose Green Products

  • Use environmentally friendly products, dish soap for example.
  • Choose natural fabrics to avoid microplastics.
  • Change light bulbs to LED.
  • Avoid microbeads in toothpastes, cosmetics, skin care and other products.
  • Purchase produce locally or from imperfect produce companies.
  • Purchase food from the bulk bins with your own bag
  • Use glass storage containers in the kitchen.
  • Use canvas and mesh produce bags when grocery shopping.
  • Use reusable food wrap instead of plastic food bags or try LunchSkins.
  • Purchase compostable trash bags or try using newspapers for trash lining.

Get in Touch

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