Sustainability at Sterling goes well beyond conventional practices—the reality of living and learning on our rural Vermont campus cultivates a deep sense of community based on an intimate relationship with the natural world, making “sustainability” both a way of life and a path of study.
Sustainable Sterling is the embodiment of this deep rooted commitment and shared vision for appropriately scaled and regionally suitable sustainable living practices—what we like to call, "grassroots sustainability."
Sustainability in Practice
Our core curriculum includes a full spectrum of courses related to sustainability, and the Work-Learning-Service program exposes all students to jobs that directly support sustainability initiatives on campus and throughout the community.
- Sterling does not outsource its food services. Instead, our on-staff chefs interact directly with the campus community to make best use of our immediate food resources and prepare delicious and nutritious meals.
- In season, 20 percent of the food served on campus is raised and harvested by students in our own gardens, fields, farm, forests, and orchards—we call this Farm-to-Table.
- What food we can't grow for ourselves comes from local family farms and socially responsible food distributors within 100 miles of the campus.
- Our partnership with Strafford Organic Creamery gives us a supply organic milk.
- Our kitchen is also a longtime member of the Vermont Fresh Network—connecting with local farms to put fresh food on the table.
- Sterling uses a mixed power model of animal and machine on the farm and in the fields.
- Most of our field, garden, farm, and forest work is done with draft horses.
- Our own sawmill produces lumber, from our managed woodlot, which is used in many campus projects.
- Our campus hasn’t had vending machines for over a decade, and doesn’t use food trays or disposable dishes.
- Nontoxic biodegradable cleaning products are stocked throughout campus.
- Mixed source e-cycling is a priority throughout campus.
- We compost all food (pre and post-consumer) and barn wastes.
- The Green Bike Program provides the Sterling College community with a fleet of functional and safe bicycles for use around campus, promoting the idea of human-powered transportation and reducing the need for nonrenewable based transportation.
- The Ride Share Program helps community members carpool.
- We use 100 percent post-consumer recycled content, chlorine free paper for all copiers/printer.
- Sterling College publications are printed on recycled paper.
- We purchase furniture through local manufacturers and craftsmen.
- Instead of constructing new buildings, we renovate existing structures whenever possible. Recent renovations include the use of natural light, solar hot water heaters, and radiant floor heating.
- We have a 100+ acre managed woodlot with Nature Trails and Lean-to.
- Students can pursue research projects in the 300+ acre Bear Swamp Wildlife Reserve.
- The Sterling Farm and Gardens are laboratories for best practices in sustainable agriculture.
- There is no pesticide use on grounds.
- We even let the sheep and horses do a little "mowing" on the campus lawns when no one's looking.
Signatory of the Talloires Declaration (1991)• Signatory of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers’ Climate Change Action Plan (2003)• Sterling College’s mission statement• Creation of Sustainability Coordinator position (2004)• Members of National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology