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Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is sustainability?
"The traditional definiton of sustainability calls for policies and strategies that meet society's present needs without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs." Sustainability is using the resources that we have in the most efficient way possible so that they will be available for the future.


1.What is STJ's Recycling Policy?
St. John's has implemented a Single Stream recycling policy. All plastics, metals, paper, glass, cardboard, and cans can be put in the same recycle bin. Everything but soiled items and food waste can be recycled.

2.What is New York City's recycling policy, and who does it apply to?
Buildings on campuses other than Queens, and off-campus buildings such as Henley fall under the NYC's recycling policy. For NYC recycling, there are three different types of recycling: Paper and cardboard (usually in Green bins), beverage cartons, bottles, cans, metal and foil (usually in Blue bins) and bulky items that can be placed at the curb on the designated recycle day (usually, per household, the City will pick up to 6 Bulky items). All recyclables, if not in the bins, must be placed in CLEAR bags so that the City knows it is recyclables. Rigid containers can be used for recycling as long as they are 18-32 gallon capacity, have lids, and are properly labeled. Plastic bags for recycling must be CLEAR, 13-55 gallon capacity. To find out the recycling schedule and what items can be recycled visit the NYC's website. If you have any issues with pick-up you can call the NYC Citizen Service Center at 311.

3. Where do St. John's recyclables go to once they're picked up? 

4.What are the benefits of recycling
There are a multitude of benefits to recycling opposed to throwing it in the garbage. Some of the most common benefits include: reduction of the use of landfills and incinerators, reducing the amount pollution caused by the manufacturing of products from raw materials, and the reduction of green house gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Also, it saves energy because there is less fossil fuels utilized to transform already made products into new ones as compared to transforming raw, unchanged material into a new product. As a result of this, recycling helps to conserve natural resources such as timber and water. 

5.What is the difference between recycling and waste management?
The primary difference between recycled materials and waste is that when a water bottle is recycled it will be used to create new products. By recycling the water bottle it's lifespan is extended. On the other hand, waste generally means that it will end up in a landfill. Therefore, waste management is trying to figure out how to reduce the amount of waste produced. 

Energy Use

1.What is “Global Warming”?
Global Warming is the increase of the Earth's average surface temperature due to greenhouse gases. 

2.What are “Greenhouse Gases” and how do they contribute to global warming?
The three main greenhouse gases are: Carbon Dioxide, Methane and Nitrous Oxide. All three perpetuate global warming because they trap solar and thermal radiation, and tkeep the heat locked in the atmosphere which leads to the gradual raising of the overall temperature.

3. What is a carbon footprint, and how can I calculate mine?                   
A carbon footprint is the measurement of the impact our activities have on the environment, and in particular climate change. It relates to the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation etc. Click here to calculate your carbon footprint.

4.What can I do to reduce my carbon footprint?
Some simple ways to start reducing your impact include:

  • use public transportation
  • walk to close by places
  • buy products with less packaging
  • recycle
  • take shorter showers to use less water
  • use the cold cycle for laundry
  • buy locally grown products ie: buy produce at a farmer’s market
  • unplug appliances that are not in use
  • turn off the lights when you are not in the room.

Organic Gardening

1.What does “organic” mean?
Organic is anything derived from living matter that contains carbon. In terms of gardening and agriculture, organic, according to the USDA means that there is an emphasis on “...the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.”Generally, when we think of organic, we think of more natural and environmentally friendly processes.

2.Do we have an organic garden on campus?
Yes, the Student Community Garden is located by the softball field behind Donovan. All produce harvested from the garden is donated to St. John’s Bread and Life soup kitchen.

3.How can I get involved?
There are many opportunities to volunteer in the organic garden, especially through STJ Earth Club where you can help plant, weed and harvest.


1.What is composting?
Composting is nature's process of recycling. It is when organic materials are decomposed into a nutrient rich soil known as compost. Through composting your organic waste you are returning nutrients back into the soil. 

2.How is compost made? 
Three components are needed to make compost. A source of nitrogen (such as grass clippings or coffee grinds),a source of carbon (such as leaves and yard waste), and vegetable or fruit matter. Compost is most commonly made in a bin where materials and water are added (generally 60% leaves, 40% vegetable and grass waste). Lastly, the pile should be turned so that the heat is evenly distributed. One other factor that is important is temperature. Generally, a compost pile (in order to kill pathogens and increase the production of good microorganisms) should reach a temperature ranging from 105-140 degrees.

3.What are the benefits of composting?    
By recycling yard and food waste we reduce the amount of waste put in landfills. Also food waste releases methane when broken down; which is one of the three main greenhouse gases. Overall, by using compost there is less of a reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Compost also improves soil condition therefore making a nutritious environment to grow plants.

4. What types of composting do we have on the Queen campus?
With the help of student sustainability coordinators St. John's now has a large-scale O2 food composting system. Pre-consumer food waste is collected from cafeterias on campus, as well as coffee grinds from Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and the Law School Cafe. If you want to get involved email the Sustainability Department or call at 718-990-5054.