Zipcar to the Rescue
College friendships forged around the search for a late-night ride to the local taco truck have taken a backseat to ready-when-you-need-'em communal vehicles, thanks to Zipcar. With 400 vehicles on more than 70 campuses, the company allows members to reserve and rent wheels at an hourly or daily rate (less than $10 an hour, often discounted for students). Universities like the idea of a single car serving multiple students, because building a new parking structure can cost more than $30,000 per stall.
According to Will Toor, coauthor of Transportation and Sustainable Campus Communities, car sharing might change mind-sets about living on campus without a vehicle more than alter habits. But with Zipcars on hand, even the car-less can tame the munchies. —Peter Frick-Wright
A SNOW-COVERED SLOPE may be as quiet as a library, but until recently only the boldest of scholars would claim that hours spent there counted as study time. Some colleges, however, have embraced the outdoors as a classroom, offering such nature-inspired courses as avalanche science and backcountry skiing.
At St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, undergrads minoring in outdoor studies debate the merits of snowshoes versus snowmobiles and the ethical implications of ski lifts. Adventurers at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, can earn credit for rock climbing, telemark skiing, and kayaking, and undergrads can spend three months exploring environmental issues or take six- to nine-day adventure trips known as "Scrambles." And last September environmental politics professor Phil Brick brought seven Whitman students down Hell's Canyon to help research a book with author Mary O'Brien. "We couldn't have done it without the outdoor program," Brick says. —Peter Frick-Wright
Ideas for Your Dean: Water-Saving Potty Policies
Make like a longhorn, and go low-flow. The University of Texas at Austin is replacing 6,000 toilets and fixtures on campus with newer low-flow ones, which should save approximately 140 million gallons of water per year, or enough to fill 210 Olympic-size swimming pools.
Compost like a Canadian. The Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver has five composting toilets in its C. K. Choi Building. Instead of connecting to the city’s sewer system, these reportedly smell-free toilets empty into giant compost bins, which only need to be emptied every ten years. —Katie Mathis
Claire's Corner CopiaNew Haven, Connecticut
Yalies flock to this vegetarian, environmentally responsible, and organic cafe for whole-grain pancakes with warm berries and, according to students, "ridiculously good" smoothies. Not only does Claire's donate 10 percent of its profits to charity, but it also provides health insurance to its treasured waitstaff.
Pearl StreetBoulder, Colorado
It's hard not to find green cuisine in this mile-high mountain college town. All the restaurants around the University of Colorado have committed to zero-waste and organic operations. The nearby Pearl Street pedestrian mall offers an impressive array of choices, including the wind-powered Kitchen Cafe and organic-centric Sunflower Restaurant.
Book Lover's CafeGainesville, Florida
"Come for the books, stay for the food" reads the front of the menu at this vegetarian restaurant that doubles as a used-book store. Just five blocks from campus, the University of Florida hangout also serves several delectable vegan dishes, such as tofu quiche and carrot cake.
Cactus TaqueríaBerkeley and Oakland, California
With two locations flanking the UC Berkeley campus, Cactus Taquería provides inexpensive and Earth-friendly Mexican food to plenty of Cal students. Die-hard Cactus fans claim the food--featuring Niman Ranch meats and Hoffman Farms poultry--is well worth braving the daycare atmosphere. Fortunately, you can always get your burrito para llevar.
Farm 255Athens, Georgia
Serving only local, seasonal cuisine, Farm 255 offers dishes like tuna tartare; pork-meatball pappardelle; and a risotto of arugula, chevre, and lemon zest. Most of its food comes straight from the eatery's own seven-acre organic, biodynamic farm near the University of Georgia. While it may be more expensive than your average student-budget meal, the value is tremendous. —Michael Fox
Photos, from top: Trent Campbell, iStock/leaf, iStock/juanmonino; used with permission.