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The Green Life: Making the Grade: College Students Take the Carbon Test

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June 10, 2011

Making the Grade: College Students Take the Carbon Test

College students Students at Santa Clara University wanted to know their greenhouse-gas footprint. But even with the many carbon calculators out there, they couldn’t find one that took into account all the critical parts of student life, like textbooks, red plastic cups, and caffeine preferences. So they made one.

BronCO2 Hoof Print (named after the university’s mascot) is a user-friendly questionnaire that translates transportation, partying, energy, consumption, food, waste, and water into carbon-emission estimates. At the end, a handy pie chart breaks down your GHG habits, and a bar graph compares your emissions to the average person in other countries.

The student creators know it’s not all about numbers, though. It’s about attitude too. College is a tricky transition time, between navel-gazing adolescence and world-saving adulthood. How do you reconcile your own needs with those of the planet and its future generations? What does it take to realize that recycling your beer cans and term-paper drafts really does matter? The calculator creators tell fellow students, “What we are interested in is inviting you to consider the connections. My actions produce these emissions with this effect on our world. And then we're interested in posing the question: What do you think you should do about it?”

While pondering that, check out Sierra magazine's annual Coolest Schools issue, a new one of which will be publishing this fall. Stay tuned!

--Christa Morris

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