Focused on sustainability, UC Santa Cruz among Sierra's top 25 'Cool Schools'

UC Santa Cruz continues to be among Sierra magazine's top 25 "Cool Schools," a list that looks at the universities with the greatest focus on sustainability.

The campus, No. 21 on the list, earned distinction for research, curriculum, and transportation.

Sierra magazine has been ranking universities for 13 years, and more than 300 schools participated this year. Sierra noted that its ranking focuses on what universities offer "the best sustainability-focused courses, ecofriendly cafeteria provisions, and carbon-neutral land and energy policies, as well as the most opportunities to engage with the environmental movement."

UC Santa Cruz—like all UCs—will be phasing out single-use plastics as part of a bold commitment to achieve zero waste. The new policy will transition UC away from plastic bags in retail and dining locations and eventually eliminate single-use plastic food service items and plastic bottles.

The UC also instituted a system-wide ban on expanded plastic foam packaging (aka: "styrofoam") that went into effect January 1, 2020. For more information on how to do your part in helping UCSC eliminate styrofoam, please visit

"UCSC continues to prioritize sustainable practices and plastics reduction, even in these unprecedented times," said Elida Erickson, director of sustainability. "Increased sanitation measures do not have to result in an increase in single-use plastics. EH&S was quick to initiate sanitizer bottle refill programs early on in the university's COVID-19 response, and Dining Services will explore alternatives to single-use for its on-the-go meals program in future academic quarters. The campus community's commitment to sustainability continues to inspire me every day."