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Going Green at USC

USC offers many ways to heighten environmental and health consciousness. One is the Farmer’s Market. USC Dornsife undergraduate Justin Bogda tells you all about it.

A patron enjoys the Farmer's Market, held Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at McCarthy Quad, at the University Park campus. Photo by Philip Channing.
A patron enjoys the Farmer's Market, held Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at McCarthy Quad, at the University Park campus. Photo by Philip Channing.

USC’s official colors are cardinal and gold, but the campus also cares about another color: green. The USC Office of Sustainability, academic programs, university departments and student groups are all pulling together to make the USC campus more sustainable. Here are just a few recent initiatives.

Farmer’s Market - Each Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., McCarthy Quad is transformed into a farmer’s market with stands filled with everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to kettle corn and boba. Justin Bogda, program and student outreach coordinator for the USC Office of Sustainability, works to “make sustainability fun for students and increase participation.”

This semester the office had free giveaways for students, including reusable tote bags and water bottles as well as gift cards to Nekter Juice Bar. Bogda, an environmental studies and international relations double major at USC Dornsife, said they are planning two more giveaways in April.

The farmer’s market is not only an accessible and convenient place to buy locally grown food, but it’s also a platform to promote student involvement in USC sustainability efforts. It debuted in Fall 2013 and is sponsored in part by the USC Office for Wellness and Health Promotion and USC Sustainability.

Tailgate Waste Diversion - USC’s tailgates are famous for their spirit and excitement but infamous for the waste they create. USC Sustainability recognized this issue and, beginning in the 2012 football season, tackled it by teaching USC fans how to redirect refuse into its proper places. The result: 11,500 pounds of material were recycled that season. Halli Bovia, sustainability program manager, explained that her staff “leads teams of peer educators who educate tailgaters on how to compost and recycle and divert waste from landfills on game day.” Tailgate hosts can lead the effort by applying for a Zero Waste Tailgate Certificate, which recognizes 90% diversion of waste from landfills and incinerators. Three tailgate party groups achieved gold status during the 2013 football season, according to Liam Duffy, zero waste certification coordinator and a computer science major in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.  

Solar Decathlon - In 2013, USC competed in the Solar Decathlon sponsored by the US Department of Energy, placing tenth overall with its innovative student-designed and built fluxHome. Sponsored by the USC School of Architecture, the 960-square-foot home constructed on the USC campus has creative features like solar chimneys and edible vertical gardens. Only four teams were selected to represent California in this international competition. Not only did the USC team place tenth overall, but first in appliances and third in architecture. As part of the fluxHome team, students from a number of majors gained valuable experience in planning and building environmentally sensitive housing.

Urban Garden - Since Spring 2010, USC has operated a community garden at 3015 Shrine Place. The garden produces fresh fruit and vegetables and is the location for monthly events where gardening skills are taught. Students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to attend. On March 28, from noon to 1 p.m., the topic will be soil amendment planting preparation and On April 11, from noon to 1 p.m., a compost workshop is scheduled. USC Sustainability and Urban Farming, a non-profit organization, established this garden to promote community health and knowledge.

Environmental Student Assembly - Sustainability at USC recently evolved in a new and exciting direction when the Environmental Student Assembly was created to bring together a number of student environmental groups. They held their first event, a Green Awareness Fair, in February, and, said Bovia, “We’re partnering with the Environmental Student Assembly to do a huge series of events in April for Earth Month. For more information go to In addition to Earth Month, a residence hall energy competition to cut costs and save energy and a green labs program are on the group’s radar screen.

Reuse Instead of Recycle: No need to buy bottled water. USC students can refill their “I am a Trojan” resusable water bottles. Orientation Programs distributes the reusable water bottles to incoming freshman and transfer students. And students who bring their own coffee mugs to Ground Zero receive a 25 cent discount.

Student Opportunities - USC students have the opportunity to get involved in existing programs or create new ones. USC Sustainability offers student assistant positions, internships for college credit and many volunteer opportunities. To learn more visit