Illustration by Lluvia Moreno

UC Santa Cruz’s campus is enveloped by natural beauty. The tall-standing trees accompanying students and staff on their way to class ease the mind. With such beauty comes responsibility. Various groups at UCSC to protect our planet and combat climate change. Their missions start small, focusing first on UCSC’s contributions to climate change. 


Enviroslug is a student-run, student-organized group focused on student carbon footprints and climate change education. Students disappointed by UCSC’s lack of desired environmental policies founded the group in 2001. 

Enviroslug is comprised of three smaller groups, Campus Sustainability Council (CSC), Student Environmental Center (SEC) and Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP). 

SEC is a student-run organization that is entirely project-based. This year, SEC is focusing on removing plastic bags from the Bay Tree Bookstore and limiting waste in an effort to reach the university’s 2020 zero waste goal. SEC also creates the annual “Blueprint for a Sustainable Campus,” which acts as a guide for accomplishing sustainable goals on campus.

ESLP hosts student-facilitated Action Research Teams (ARTs), accompanied by a speaker series. These classes educate students about sustainability using SEC’s blueprint goals. This spring quarter, the theme of ESLP’s class is “Narratives of Hope for a Sustainable Future,” and it will host classes that discuss topics like dismantling whiteness in sustainability movements and food systems. 

CSC acts as the funding body for Enviroslug. CSC is funded by student fees and gives out $90,000 per year to student organizations and other entities on campus that need funding for sustainability related projects. Both ESLP and SEC can apply for grants through CSC to accomplish their sustainability goals for the year. CSC’s funds are also used to put on Earth Summit.

Earth Summit is an annual event hosted by Enviroslug on the last day of Earth Week. Earth Summit invites students, faculty and community members to discuss how UCSC can work to become more sustainable. Established in 2002, Earth Summit is one of the longest running events on campus. Attendees see the advantage to discussing the state of UCSC’s sustainability and have recently begun discussing the city’s sustainability as a whole. 

Fossil Free UC

Fossil Free UC, founded systemwide in 2012, demands the UC divest from fossil fuels. The group takes inspiration from the anti-apartheid divestment movements of the 1970s and seeks to harness the power of responsible financing and boycotting. In early 2017, the UCSC chapter marched from the Quarry to the base of campus to draw attention to its cause. In April of last year, the UC announced plans to divest $500 million from fossil fuels. This is less than 20 percent of the total $2.6 billion the UC has invested in fossil fuels, and the organization continues its work.

California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) 

Funded by student pledges, CALPIRG has successfully lobbied to ban single-use plastic bags and registered 40,000 students to vote. The group credits its success partially to the $5 voluntary fee that 15 percent of UCSC students pay to CALPIRG every quarter. Established statewide in 1970, with a Santa Cruz chapter in 1976, the organization has a strong presence at UCSC. The group’s current focus is to encourage UCSC to shift to 100 percent renewable energy on campus and to protect bees from toxic pesticides. 

Food Systems Working Group (FSWG)

FSWG ensures on-campus dining options are sustainable and healthy. The group works with the UCSC farm, Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS), to provide fresh and local food to students through the Slug Support Pantry and the produce pop-up, a stand that sells fresh vegetables twice a week for prices lower than most supermarkets. They also publish the Campus Food and Garden Guide every year to help students navigate and find new food options on campus.

The People of Color Sustainability Collective (PoCSC)

PoCSC promotes environmental justice at UCSC. Founded as a collaboration between the five ethnic resource centers and the Sustainability Office, the group creates space for discussions surrounding the intersections of race and sustainability. Each year, the group hosts several discussion events centering race and environmental justice. The talks cover a variety of issues, ranging from racism in pig farming to clean water access.