Sustainability at Scripps


Scripps Institution of Oceanography is committed to UC San Diego's mandate to become a zero-waste campus by 2020. Staff, students, and faculty at Scripps formed the "SIO for Sustainability" group in order to translate Scripps's world-renowned research on climate change, ocean health, and global conservation into tangible daily sustainable practices on our campus. Simple changes to our daily routines can add up to a significant impact and make Scripps a leader in conservation as well as ocean, earth, and atmospheric research.

Please read below for information on waste collection (recycling, compost, special items), zero-waste projects, upcoming sustainability events, and ways to get involved.

Monthly Highlight | Waste Collection Programs | Events | Utensils/Dishwasher Calendar and Form

Monthly Sustainability Highlight

April-May 2019: Scripps Earth Week a big success!

SIO for Sustainability hosted several events at Scripps on Tuesday, April 23 and Wednesday April 24 to celebrate Earth Week 2019.

Tuesday, April 23

Our beach cleanup collected almost two full 5-gallon buckets of plastic, styrofoam, cigarette butts, string, and other non-biodegradable trash. As usual, most of the pieces we collected were small broken-down bits, either from the beach or (more likely) washed up from the ocean by the tide. Picking up trash, while rewarding, is a sobering reminder that we need to tackle our pollution at the source by buying and using fewer plastic-encased items. Thank you to our volunteers!


We also hosted a CMBC Brown Bag panel titled 'The Science of Sustainable Surfing: What's in your board, what happens when you're done with it, and how surfboards can be platforms for oceanographic data collection." We had four terrific panelists who engaged in a lively discussion on alternative surfboard materials (including algae, which is now also used in flip-flop production), how to reach more of the surfing industry with eco-friendly boards, options for upcycling surfboards, wetsuits, and materials when boards break, and how The Smartfin Project is using surfboards as a platform to get oceanographic sensors out into the surf zone every time a person goes out to surf. Thank you so much to our panelists! Stay tuned for a video of the talk. 

"The Science of Sustainable Surfing" panelists:

- Dr. Phil Bresnahan, The Smartfin Project/Scripps Inst. of Oceanography - using surfers and surfboards as platforms for citizen science-based oceanographic data collection
- Professor Stephen Mayfield, UCSD - Turning algae into everything from surfboards to flip-flops
- Kevin Whilden, Sustainable Surf - ECOBOARD certification, Foam to Waves, and other Deep Blue projects
- Billy Burns, Rerip San Diego - upcycling used and broken boards into art and building materials



Wednesday, April 24

UCSD put on a Carbon Offset Workshop at Scripps, where they discussed the University's Climate Action Plan and grants to support ongoing projects that may help the University with carbon offsets. 

SIO for Sustainability hosted our biannual Garage Swap on Pawka Green, where people can donate old clothes, books, and household items and pick up items that other people have donated. This year we also collected old surfboards and wetsuits! We received one surfboard and 7 wetsuit donations, all of which were given to Coconut Peet's and Rerip, a local San Diego company that upcycles board and wetsuit materials.



Scripps students and staff gathered on Tuesday, April 23 for our Earth Week beach cleanup



SIO for Sustainability hosted a panel on "The Science of Sustainable Surfing"



Our first surfboard donation at the Garage Swap!



Waste Collection Programs


Five-gallon buckets are located in most building kitchenettes and common spaces (see bin locations map). 


  • ALL food
  • Napkins and paper towels


  • NO plastic or metal
  • NO compostable containers or utensils (the composting facility cannot process them)



GENERAL: Blue bins are located in every building for recyclable items.

SPECIAL ITEMS (see map of locations):

  • Batteries

  • Writing instruments - ballpoint pens, highlighters, whiteout pens, markers

  • E-waste - Small items can be dropped off with Allyson Long in the Scripps Admin building. Collection bins for larger items are available in several buildings on a bi-monthly schedule.

Note: Coffee cups, No. 6 plastic ‘to-go’ boxes, and food-contaminated recyclables, are NOT recyclable. See the full list of non-recyclable items.


Campus recycling guide (PDF)

Cigarette Butts

Although UC San Diego is a smoke-free campus, cigarette butts still make their way to Scripps. Our top goal is to keep butts from going into the ocean. Please use our butt disposal containers (see map of collection locations).

Water Bottle Refill Stations

Water bottle refill stations are available in the following locations: Eckart 2nd floor (next to restrooms), Deep Sea Drilling West (next to restrooms), New Scripps Admin building (lobby). In addition, every building has drinking fountains. 


‚ÄčIT IS ESSENTIAL to follow COMPOSTING and RECYCLING GUIDELINES. If non-compostable items contaminate the compost, the program will be fined or terminated.

Compost bins are emptied 1-2 times per week into green 32-gallon collection bins located in the Ritter Hall Service Yard. 

SIO for Sustainability currently maintains the program via a volunteer network. Our ultimate goal is to integrate composting into the overall Scripps waste collection system.

Zero-Waste Events

As part of UC San Diego's goal of zero waste by 2020, we are working to reduce single-use disposables at Scripps meetings and events. We recognize the challenges of catering to large numbers of people without using disposable products, but we have several options help you reduce your disposable footprint when you host events. Contact Allyson Long ( or Laura Lilly ( to arrange any of the following:

  • Dishware and mug-share set available for check-out (meetings up to 20 people. 48 hour notice required to reserve) 
  • Compost/recycling bins and signs for food events
  • Reusable champagne glasses at Surfside 

Future additions: 

  • Dishware set for larger meetings
  • Dishwasher available to Scripps community for post-meeting clean-up
  • Sustainable catering options
Scripps Open House 2019 for prospective graduate students was a completely zero-waste event, thanks to steps such as the compost, recycling, and reusable napkin bins shown here

Sustainability Programs

Green Labs Certification

UC San Diego's Green Labs program helps laboratories reduce their environmental footprint without compromising research or safety. This program was formed in 2013 to engage laboratory faculty, staff, and students in performing assessments, reducing waste and improving recycling, replacing inefficient equipment, and transitioning to more sustainable practices.

UC San Diego has joined the California Climate Action Registry and is committed to reaching carbon neutrality. Please consider becoming Green Certified through the Green Office and Green Labs programs. Both certifications only require a brief initial online survey to get started. 

Congratulations on the following Scripps certifications!

Platinum certification

  • Director's Office

Gold Certification

  • Bowman Lab
  • Gerwick Lab
  • Moore Lab

Silver Certification

  • Jensen Lab
  • Human Resources
  • CA Sea Grant Office

Bronze Certification

  • Bartlett Lab
  • Deheyn Lab
  • Hastings Lab
  • Hildebrand Lab
  • Vernet Lab

Green Certification

  • Fenical Lab
  • Norris Lab
  • Scripps Geological Collections

Upcoming Sustainability Events

No events are scheduled for this category.

Get involved!

Join the SIO for Sustainability listserv ('sio-sustainability-g',!forum/sio-sustainability-g) to stay up-to-date on sustainability activities and ways to help out.  

Questions? Contact: Allyson Long ( or Laura Lilly ( 

Other UCSD sustainability resources

Sustainability Media – UCSD and beyond