Responsible Consumption and Production

Foundation Information   

Many of the products we use are one time use items that have a large impact on our earth.  By using multi-use or reusable items we can eliminate unnecessary waste.  Consider cloth napkins and cloth towels instead of paper products. Shopping locally and purchasing  “in season” products creates an overall reduction of fossil fuels, need for transportation for out of area products, and maintenance of an unsustainable ag system which utilizes water, labor and energy at expensive rates. Consider using alternative transportation whenever possible instead of single rider or short distance trips to eliminate dependence on fuel. 

Individual Impact

For Sonoma State Residents to be aware of the products they are using and the impact they have on the earth. Using reusable grocery bags and water bottles, bartering/trading or buying gently used products,  local purchasing- farm to table, community gardening, using alternative transportation- economic benefits of using less gas, walking, increasing bike usage, carpooling, public transportation. 

Learning Tools

Student will use reusable bags when going to the grocery store, Target, Wal-Mart, and even the Mall in order to reduce the number of plastic bags. Students will be given resources about local farmers markets and shopping “in season”.  Students will be encouraged to shop at the “made by Seawolves” store. 

#1 Responsible Consumerism “ Did You Know” Campaigns

Do It Locally

  • Local businesses buy more goods and services locally and employ more people locally per unit of sales (because they have no headquarters staff elsewhere). Every $1 million spent at local bookstores, for example, creates $321,000 in additional economic activity in the area, including $119,000 in wages paid to local employees. That same $1 million spent at chain bookstores generates only $188,000 in local economic activity, including $71,000 in local wages. Source:ILSR.
  • If residents were to redirect just 10 percent of their spending from chains to local businesses, that could generate up to $192 million in additional economic activity and as many as 1,300 new jobs. Source:ILSR.
  • Produce in the conventional system- a national network using semitrailer trucks to haul food to large grocery stores-travels an average of 1,518 miles (about 2,400 kilometers). By contrast, locally sourced food travels an average of just 44.6 miles to markets. 
  • Transport accounts for about 11 percent of the food system's emissions. 
  • At least half of the food system’s emissions occur during production. A large portion of emissions associated with meat and dairy production take the form of greenhouse gases that are up to 296 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Red meat in particular is responsible for about 150 percent more emissions than chicken or fish. 
  • Eating locally (items transported within 100 miles of place of purchase) could save the equivalent of driving 1,000 miles less per year. 
  • Replacing red meat and dairy with chicken, fish, or eggs for one day per week would save the equivalent of driving 760 miles per year. Replacing red meat and dairy with vegetables one day a week would be like driving 1,160 miles less.  
  • Organic food is better for you and better for the planet! It is often is associated with lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventionally grown food, because organics don't generate the emissions associated with production, transport, and application of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. 
  • There are farmer’s markets almost every day of the week throughout Sonoma County, closest locations being Rohnert Park on Fridays and Cotati on Sundays.

#2. Using Cloth instead of paper- cloth napkins, cloth dish towels, “woolie” dryer balls

  • The average person uses about 45 pounds of paper towels per year
  • Which means that the students of Sonoma State University use roughly 207 tons of paper towel per years. 
  • It takes 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water to make one ton of paper towels. 
  • Paper towel use from SSU students costs the environment 3519 trees per year and a massive 4.14 million gallons of water. 
  • Which is basically like dumping out 8 Olympic sized swimming pools worth of water each year.
  • Instead of purchasing and using paper towels.
  • You can buy dish towels, cloth napkins, and cotton clothes to use in place of paper towels. When you use them, just stick them in the wash and you can use them over and over again, unlike paper towels!

#3. Keep it Parked and Walk it Off- use your feet or other modes of transportation instead of a personal vehicle

  • With your valid student ID you can now ride the bus free as far north as Cloverdale and as far south as San Rafael! Source:pressdemocrat
  • There are tons of great apps to help you navigate local transportation! Source:sctransit.
  • The Bureau of Transportation stated that the average American household spends $7,179 per year on owning and driving one vehicle (Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2010)
  • Per the League of American Bicyclists the cost of operating a bicycle for a year is only $120 (
  • Americans in 2011 drove 6% fewer miles than in 2004. Regarding the age cohort of younger drivers (18-30), they are driving even less --- even among those who can afford car ownership (Tuckel & Milczarski).
  • Nationwide, “More than three times as many new bicycles (14.9 million) are sold in the U.S. each year than cars (4.6 million)” (National Bicycle Dealers Association, 2010; Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2010). 
  • United States has the lowest rate of active transportation of all western countries.
  • If just one out of every ten adults started a regular walking program, the US could save 5.6 billion dollars in health care costs-enough to pay the college tuition of more than one million students. 
  • “For every 1 mile pedaled rather than driven, nearly 1 pound of CO² (0.88 lbs) is saved.” (US Environmental Protection Agency, 2009) “Traffic congestion wastes nearly 3.9 billion gallons of gas per year in the U.S.” (Texas Transportation Institute, 2010) 
  • Short trips of three miles or less, which currently make for about half of all trips taken in the United States can, to some extent, be shifted from driving to bicycling and walking. Short car trips are a significant source of emissions. The rate of emissions during the first few miles of driving is higher, and fuel efficiency is lower.
    • Currently 78% of these short trips are made by car. 
    • “One-quarter of all trips … are within a mile, or about a 20-minute walk.” 
    • US Department of Transportation confirms that “most trips Americans make are short: 50% are less than 3 miles, 40% are less than 2 miles, and 28% are less than 1 mile.” (US Department of Transportation, 2009). 
  • “Women who bike 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer” (Bikes Belong: Luoto, R., et al., 2000).
  • An American Cancer Society study reported that an hour of daily walking may reduce a woman’s likelihood of a breast cancer diagnosis by 14 percent. Source:realsimple.
  • “Adolescents who bicycle are 48% less likely to be overweight as adults” (Bikes Belong: Menschik, D, et al., 2008). 
  • The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that active adults perform physical activity three to five times each week for 20 to 60 minutes at a time to improve cardiovascular fitness and body composition. In addition to reducing the risk of multiple chronic diseases, physical activity helps maintain healthy bones, muscles, joints, and helps to control weight, develop lean muscle, and reduce body fat. 
  • Just 10 minutes of walking at the pace you would use if you were late for an appointment—but obviously without that stress of being late—can boost your mood for two hours. Source: Calm Energy: How People Regulate Mood With Food and Exercise.
  • A California State University, Long Beach, study showed that the more steps people took during the day, the better their moods were. Why? Walking releases natural pain­killing endorphins to the body – one of the emotional benefits of exercise.
  • Creative thinking increases while walking! Go for a walk while you ponder that English essay and you are much more likely to come up with something cool. Source: 

Responsible Consumerism Challenges

Challenge Info #1: Using reusable bags 

Student Action: Students will not buy department store bags but instead take their own bag when shopping

Mechanisms for Participation:

Students will be encouraged to reuse bags. RA’s will do programs around making your own reusable totes, as well as distributing Sonoma State branded reusable bags. Residents will receive tokens if seen utilizing bags much like they did for the reusable bottle challenge. 


SSU Residential Community’s reliance on paper and plastic shopping bags will be reduced overall 

Students will adopt new purchasing behaviors 

“Did You Know” Information   

  • The average American uses 328 plastic bags a year
  • At Sonoma State that's over a Million bags. 
  • The oil it takes to make 14 plastic bags can drive a car 1 mile 
  • If we all switched to using reusable bags 1 car can drive from Main to San Diego 21 Times 
  • You alone can save enough oil to drive to Santa Rosa and back. 
  • Each bag you purchase at a Sonoma county retailer costs 10 cents. If every resident bought one bag a week for the academic year that would add up to $3.20, equal to a coffee at the Caf. If every resident purchased a bag a week  combined unnecessary spending would add up $9920. That is equivalent to an on campus apartment for.