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 Sustainability Highlight

February 2019: Scripps Bin Buddy program

As part of UC San Diego’s goal of ‘Zero Waste by 2020’, the entire UCSD campus is implementing a ‘Bin Buddy’ system in individual offices to cut down on trash thrown away on campus. The Bin Buddy system consists of a normal-sized blue recycling bin with a much smaller trash bin attached to the side. The goal of the system is to encourage people to recycle, compost, or pack out (take home) as much of their waste as possible, and to put as little as possible into the UCSD landfill system. Campus custodians will only empty the bins once per week, so if people fill their office bins more quickly they must empty them into communal building trash cans. In addition to smaller trash cans, UCSD is encouraging waste reduction by not lining either bin with a plastic bag. For a list of recyclable items, see the UCSD recycling webpage:

All UC campuses are implementing the Bin Buddy program, and they join many other colleges across the nation in implementing the program. Visit the UCSD Bin Buddy webpage for more information: Scripps is the first department at UCSD to receive the Bin Buddy program, but the campus aims to have all offices at UCSD converted by mid-2019. 

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 staff member Sarah Heim demonstrates that a disposable-free and locally-sourced TG is possible!
The 2018 MAS cohorts enjoy the Scripps reusable dish set at an afternoon get-together in September
The 2018 MAS cohorts enjoy the Scripps reusable dish set at an afternoon get-together in September
Scripps reusable dishware at an MAS fall function in Eckart
Scripps reusable dishware at an MAS fall function in Eckart

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

Scripps Bike Group

The Bike Commute Support Group encourages and facilitates biking as the most fun, healthy, economical, and sustainable way to get to Scripps. The group provides a forum for bikers to meet, ask for help, and organize events. The group collaborates with SIO for Sustainability on sustainable transportation advocacy, notably Bike to Work Month in May.

A recent TG event hosted by SIO for Sustainability and the Staff Sustainability Network (SSN) featured an electric bike demo.

Contacts and Resources

Contact the Bike Group with any other ideas! Potential future activities include: advocacy for local bike infrastructure/safety, fun community rides, Bike Trains (example)

Reducing Environmental Footprints at UCSD

Scripps Coral Garden at Eckart Building

Nina Rosen and Brant Chlebowski, alumni of the Scripps MAS Marine Biodiversity and Conservation Class of 2017, developed the idea to build a drought-tolerant succulent garden evoking underwater coral reefs outside of Scripps's Eckart Library building.

The garden is part of the Scripps Coastal Meander, which makes up a portion of the California Coastal Trail. The pair has worked with numerous collaborators from Scripps, including the Facilities and Management Division and the Jennifer Smith and Stuart Sandin Labs at Scripps, to construct the garden to accurately convey an underwater coral environment.

Specific succulents were chosen for their similarity to coral species, and the garden is separated into zones that mimic an actual reef crest, fore reef, and lagoon.

MAS alumnus Brant Chlebowski adds features to the Scripps Coral Garden, which he and Nina Rosen designed for their MAS capstone project


Scripps Beach Cleanups

Beach cleanups are hosted by SIO for Sustainability and the Birch Aquarium several times per year, often in conjunction with Scripps-wide events. Recent cleanups have occurred during Scripps Day (June 2018), Staff Sustainability Network summer meeting (August 2018), and Scripps Safety and Sustainability Day (October 2018). We are working to organize a regular monthly beach cleanup. Stay tuned for upcoming dates!

Scripps and Birch Aquarium team up for a beach cleanup during Scripps Safety and Sustainability Day (Oct. 17, 2018)

Scripps and Birch Aquarium team up for a beach cleanup during Scripps Safety and Sustainability Day (Oct. 17, 2018)


Upcoming Sustainability Events

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 Resources and Media

"Walk the Talk" - a video about sustainability efforts around the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Created by MAS MBC alumni (Class of 2018) Hillary Eggers and Lori Mendez.

"Bending the Curve" by UC San Diego Prof. Veerabhadran Ramanathan. 


Sustainability News and Resources

Marine Plastic Pollution blog: