How College of Charleston is making an environmental impact

By Arden Dodge

The College of Charleston is home to almost 9,000 undergraduate students, many of whom came for a good education paired with the beautiful weather and scenery. 

While College of Charleston has indeed been named No. 1 for most beautiful campus by Travel and Leisure, it has more going on behind the scenes that not only helps maintain the beauty of the campus but helps the community and environment surrounding it.

There’s good reason that College of Charleston has been ranked one of the top sustainable colleges by USA Today

With the founding of the Center for Sustainable Development and Sustainability Literacy Institute, C of C has provided a roadmap for other colleges in promoting green practices through living and literacy. 

Below are five ways that the College of Charleston is making a positive environmental impact around campus

Sustainability Literacy Institute

The College of Charleston created a place in 2017 where the campus community could become literate in social, economic, and environmental impacts.

The Sustainability Literacy Institute (SLI) works with student clubs and organizations to encourage sustainability literacy among the community.

Core values of the SLI include the following: Education, Engagement, and Expression. 

Education takes form through support of sustainable literacy for students and teaching faculty. 

Engagement represents the need for collaboration between the C of C community as well as the larger community in order to become literate and practice sustainability.

Lastly, Expression shows that SLI supports the expression of individual, academic, local, and widespread efforts that must be advocated for in order to make an environmental difference.

Every year a new theme and focus is decided on.

2021’s theme was “Sustainable Cities and Communities.”

Stay up to date with next year’s theme by checking here.

Cougar Free Store

The Cougar Free Store, located behind the Multi-Cultural Center is a completely free place full of clothing, school supplies, electronics, books, personal hygiene items, etc.

These are all previously purchased items that would otherwise be taken to the landfill and wasted as single use products.

Need textbooks for courses? Make sure to check here first! This will save you money and help save the planet! Every bit counts.

The Free Store also hosts pop-ups every now and then to share the love and donations.

This not only contributes to the College of Charleston ZeroWaste Initiative for the environment but also helps make products accessible to those with less money.

The Free Store is currently located on the first floor of 207 Calhoun Street, behind the Addlestone Library, accessible from Pitt or Calhoun Street.

Cougar Compost Initiative

Beginning in the 2021 academic year, C of C offered the Cougar Compost Initiative.

This program offers students housed in Warren 1, 10, and 20 halls the chance to collect food waste and compost with a Compost Now four-gallon bin.

The bin is free of charge, picked up, cleaned weekly, and contributed to the local community gardens as fertilizer for the soil.

This prevents food waste from becoming that – just waste! Instead, it is turned into energy and food for plants around the Charleston area.

Don’t let your food scraps go to waste!

Remember that anyone can compost with the purchase of a Compost Now membership! Your first two pick ups are free!

You can sign up here if you live in the previously mentioned places! Or, if questions need answering, email

Bike Share Program

Launched in the Fall of 2013, the C of C Bike Share Program was developed by a team of students who wanted to encourage the use of safe, healthy, and sustainable transportation for students.

Free bikes rentals are offered to any eligible member of the College; for example, current students, faculty, and staff.

Below are the various rentals and details offered:

Short-term bikes are located at Stern Center and can be rented out for one full day. This program is currently paused and not taking reservations.

Long-term bikes are located at 207 Calhoun Street at the Center for Sustainable Development found behind Addlestone Library. 

Rentals are for a full semester and can make such great travel arrangements!

Click here to reserve one. 

Just keep in mind that Spring 2022 no longer has bikes available for reservations.

But do not fret. There’s always Fall of 2022!

For a fun bike to take you around town, you first have to watch the Bike Safety Video and sign the liability form. 

Please contact with any questions!

Rain Water Harvesting

The College of Charleston also provides several harvesting projects for rainwater.

At the Political Science building stands a 1,000 gallon cistern of water that is used to upkeep the Student Garden Club’s urban garden. 

Other spots where you can find natural rainwater stations are located at the Communications and Historic Preservation buildings where collections are used for landscaping on campus.

Another is located in the Grice Marine Laboratory where a 1,550 gallon barrel funnels water from the rooftop. The water collected has contributed to about 800 square feet of garden beds. 

These locations are just a few, as there are more in the Rita Liddy Hollings Science Center and the Grounds department and surrounding areas.

It’s no wonder why College of Charleston has been so praised for its beauty.

It’s powerful to attend a college that looks to the future in ways many others do not.

The efforts made to positively impact the environment provide a place for anyone to take part.

These five ways are just a few of the avenues taken by the College to lessen their carbon footprint. 

If interested, feel free to check out the Center for Sustainable Development or subscribe to their newsletter!

Don’t forget to follow @sustiancofc on Instagram!

Keep Calm and Sustain On, College of Charleston!

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