Take Action: Pacific Lutheran University

PLU has three main goals for sustainability; to be carbon neutral by 2020, to be a zero-waste producer/institution and to develop a culture of sustainability within our student body, faculty and staff. In order to achieve these goals, our office, students and staff are beginning to take action:


The SurPLUs Store

The PLU SurPLUs store, which used to be located next to Facilities on lower campus, offered students, staff and community members alike the chance to help out the environment by purchasing items for a highly reduced price. By bringing items which are still in good usable condition to SurPLUs, we created a renewable cycle and avoided sending these items to a landfill. The SurPLUs inventory was always changing, therefore we could not guarantee that any certain item will be available at a given time. For more information, call (253) 535-7380. Due to budget cuts, SurPLUs closed in Spring 2014.


SurPLUs Policies

The Sustainability Department provides the PLU community with an easy way to reduce the amount of surplus items on campus. General Information:

  • The SurPLUs Policies allow PLU to ensure efficient turnover of all items in surplus storage. The established polices also prevent further build up of unused surplus.
  • Surplus is defined as furniture, office supplies, technical equipment, and other items deemed valuable by Environmental Services’ technicians and coordinators.

Collection of surplus items:

  • A work order must be requested by the person who has the authority to dispose of the items to be collected by Environmental Services.
  • Items worth more than $500 require the signature of the director of the department that is relinquishing the item upon receipt of pick-up.

Disposal of surplus items:

  • All items will first be offered to on campus departments for reuse.
  • After two weeks, the items will be offered for sale to the PLU community. A Current PLU ID Card must be presented at time of purchase.
  • If an item is not purchased after one month, the item will be donated, recycled, or disposed of at the discretion of Environmental Services (i.e. community garage sales, auction companies, charity).


The Fred L. Tobiason Outdoor Learning Center - A Habitat Restoration project

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA For information on our next work meeting on when you can get involved, tune into the home page or check out the link of important dates. The Habitat Restoration Project is a student-led project supported by the Sustainability Office that seeks to restore habitat South of the UC and on the adjacent western slope. The area was at one time dominated by invasive species such as Himalayan blackberry, English ivy and bindweed, but volunteers have already begun to remove these invasive species. The project will re-establish native plants carefully selected and consistent with historical plant communities of the Oak Woodland/Prairie Mosaic vegetation zone. According to the Washington State Natural Heritage Program, prairie and oak woodlands are some of the most imperiled ecosystems in Western Washington. For example, native grasslands in the South Puget Sound area have declined to less than 3% of their pre-settlement areal extent. Factors contributing to the decline and degradation of these ecosystems include fire suppression and associated conifer tree invasion, invasion of non-native species, grazing, and urban and agricultural conversion. PLU has impressive groves of oaks along the hillside that divides Upper and Lower Campus and is well connected to surrounding habitats in the watershed. Along Clover Creek there are several sites actively being restored by Forterra and Pierce County Surface Water Management. These habitats as well as the near by Upland Biodiversity Management Area of McCord Air force Base and Fort Lewis make our campus an ideal site for restoration as a habitat corridor. This project also provides an opportunity for students and the greater community to gain experiential knowledge of environmental stewardship and native plants. Volunteer opportunities will be advertised on this website and through the PLU Volunteer Center. The project also will create an outdoor classroom, where the wider community will be invited to explore the relationship between humans and the environment though interpretive signage. The signage will recognize the natural history of the area, including the historic presence of Clover Creek on campus and indigenous populations, water quality issues and other human impacts on the environment. The volunteerism, stewardship and community connections of this project may allow PLU to apply its experience with habitat restoration to a greater portion of its greenbelt hillside and eventually to a portion of the PLU Golf Course, part of which is planned to be developed into a sports complex, but the southern portion would be an ideal site for prairie restoration due to its native prairie soils, proximity to other prairie habitats, and the presence of Mima mound formations. If you are interested in volunteering with the Habitat Restoration project, please contact us at restore@plu.edu or feel free to check out our important dates link to find information on our next work party.


unplug PLU buys their energy from Parkland Light and Water, a co-op that distributes power from Bonneville Power Administration. The majority of electricity is generated from hydropower, a renewable resource by definition, but still extremely damaging to water ecosystems. In addition, with the growth that the state of Washington is experiencing, utilities are expected to need an increase in transmission lines within 20 years, another energy intensive, expensive, and environmentally degrading practice. You can help by limiting your power usage to only what you need. Tips to help conserve electricity

  1. Beware phantom power! Use the smart strips in the halls.
  2. Turn off lights
  3. Wash your cloths in cold water
  4. Where a sweater, and tune back the heat
  5. Line dry
  6. Like us on Facebook for more tips!

Take Back the Tap

Take Back the Tap / One Less Cup

TBTTIn 2008, a student led initiative brought awareness about saving money by consuming tap water. In association with GREAN, RHA and other groups across campus, the Sustainability Office brought about “Bring Back the Tap,” an initiative encouraging students to purchase plastic Nalgene bottles and use tap water, cutting down on the amount of recycled plastic that goes through our school or some that finds its way into the trash. Since its inception, TBTT has been a great success, and its continued growth is due in large part to students recognizing and learning some of these facts:

  • Making bottles to meet Americans’ demand for bottled water requires more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel more than 1 million U.S. cars for a year.
  • Worldwide, some 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year.
  • According to the Container Recycling Institute, 86 percent of plastic water bottles used in the United States become garbage or litter. Incinerating used bottles produces toxic byproducts such as chlorine gas and ash containing heavy metals.
  • An estimated 25% of bottled water is actually bottled tap water.

In the academic school of year 2010-2011, a new student led initiative will be put into action, “Bring Back the Mug.” The goal, is to afford students the opportunities to purchase coffee mugs, cutting back on our cardboard products and raising the same awareness that TBTT has brought to campus. Stay tuned for more information on BBTM, and if you have questions feel free to write us at sustain@plu.edu

Can the Can

Can the Can


One of the ever evolving and on going goals of the Office of Sustainability is to have PLU become an institution that produces zero-waste. In other words, the hope is that PLU sends nothing to local landfills. PLU estimates that its current diversion is 60-70% of the waste stream, and is dedicated to working towards a zero waste campus. To instigate the process of producing zero waste, the Sustainability team introduced the “Can the Can” program. In 2006 the program was introduced to faculty and staff to encourage conscious decisions on waste disposal method. Voluntary participants receive a miniature garbage can in replacement of the standard garbage can. Through the removal of the standard can, individuals are responsible for accurately recycling items, consciously throwing away as little as possible (with the help of the miniature waste can), and emptying out their individual Can the Can.