This program was created to inspire environmental consciousness and commitment among EARTH students, staff and surrounding communities.
Through a series of practical and feasible strategies, the PURR minimizes the environmental impact of the University’s on-campus activities.
This institutional initiative has four components that operate in the field of academic research, planning, implementation and monitoring of action plans:
- Integrated solid waste management program
- Electricity management and use-reduction program
- Water management and use-reduction program
- Blue Flag Award program
To involve the University community is involved, the PURR seeks to establish relationships with different stakeholders: students, staff, professors, residents and visitors. In this way, it builds the synergy necessary to coordinate and systematize processes to meet the program goals.
The program’s results include:
1. Recycling 81% of campus waste
Color-coordinated bins for collecting bottles, paper, non-recyclable trash and organic waste are located throughout campus. Waste from these bins is collected daily and brought to EARTH’s sorting center, where students or workers re-sort and evaluate the waste. With EARTH’s rigorous program, only 19 percent of the campus’ solid domestic waste is taken to the landfill managed by PURR; the remainder is recycled, reused or composted.
2. Raising awareness through the “Day without Cars” and other activities
With its “Day without Cars,” the University energizes the on-campus community each year to embrace greener transportation by providing public transportation, educational talks, exhibitions, interactive games, sports activities and contests. To complement this important day, EARTH promotes the reduction of greenhouse emissions throughout the year by hosting lectures on energy efficiency, installing energy-efficient infrastructure and using alternative energy sources (including solar panels and bio-digesters).
3.The Healthcare Quality Seal Award
In recognition of our dedicated compliance with its rules and procedures, the Costa Rican Water and Sewers System (AyA, in Spanish) has awarded us for our efficient and safe water management practices. Our excellent stewardship of this key resource ensures both the quantity and quality of the campus’ water supply.
4. Blue Flag Awards
The Blue Flag Ecology Program, a joint venture of several Costa Rican institutions, awards organizations for meeting strict guidelines for water quality, environmental education, natural resource management and safety. EARTH University has received the highest distinction awarded by the national program in both the Climate Neutral Community and Non-Coastal Community categories. For its Actions to Face Climate Change and Protection of Natural Spaces, EARTH has garnered four out of six stars possible.
5. Training first-year students in sustainable practices
Through our educational program, first-year students learn best practices in energy efficiency, solid waste management, emissions reductions and other areas and how to implement them. With a strong foundation on which to build their ecological understanding, students deepen their commitment to preserving the planet.
6. Teaching more than two million Costa Ricans to recycle with the EcoRomería
In August 2011, EARTH University partnered with four governmental institutions to create the country’s first EcoRomería, the yearly pilgrimage to Cartago, where the nation’s patron saint resides.
The project’s main goal: to teach pilgrims to take responsibility for adequately disposing waste along the route to Cartago. The campaign began with an educational public relations and advertising program several days before the main event. During the event itself 70 recycling bins, attended by volunteers, were installed along the 10-mile route to the shrine.
In the first year alone, the message reached more than three million people in a country of about four-and-a-half million inhabitants. In turn, raising people’s consciousness and giving them an opportunity to recycle correctly translated into a 96% reduction in waste: from more than 84 tons of litter to just over one ton.
EARTH’s partners included Ministry of the Environment, Education and Telecommunications and the municipalities from Cartago, La Unión and Curridabat, in addition sponsors, partners and volunteers from around the country.
Building on EcoRomería’s success in 2011, the University again co-organized the event in 2012. The results showed not only clean streets during the pilgrimage but also, according to a volunteer-conducted survey, that pilgrims learned to sort their waste sustainably.
Participation in REDIES
In 2009, EARTH University initiated the inter-institutional meeting: Prospects for Sustainability in Higher Education Organizations in Costa Rican. This resulted in the creation of the Costa Rican Network of Sustainable Educational Institutions (REDIES), in which there are now 18 member institutions.
Under EARTH’s leadership, since its creation REDIES has sought to achieve sustainability on college campuses, defining environmental indicators, achieving the adoption of environmental policies in these institutions, and gaining the support and commitment of the universities leadership.
REDIES has offered forums on environmental management issues, including: carbon neutrality, waste management, water and sustainable procurement, among others. Representatives of universities have also been trained through Performance Indicator Workshops.