Celebrating CU’s EcoVisits as students return to Boulder

Celebrating CU’s EcoVisits as Students Return to Boulder

Local college students are leading the charge on climate action, thanks to a group of young environmentalists at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU).

The group, called EcoVisits (formally known as EcoBuffs), is made up of student leaders across a variety of academic backgrounds who share a passion for climate action. Each semester, members of the EcoVisits team teach their peers about low-cost tools and everyday habits that save energy, reduce waste and conserve water.

EcoVisits green and black logo

Through peer-to-peer education, the group grows a lasting culture of sustainability within the local student community – a culture that weaves composting, reuse, conscious consumption and other simple climate actions into daily life. Their outreach on- and off-campus spreads awareness about the city’s climate goals and zero waste requirements within the large local student population, which makes up almost a third of the Boulder community.

An EcoVisits EcoKit includes a compost bin, recycle bin, LED lightbulbs, reusable cutlery and metal straws

An EcoVisits EcoKit includes a compost bin, recycle bin, LED lightbulbs, reusable cutlery and metal straws.

Each year, new students descend into Boulder from communities across the world, which means it’s an important opportunity to educate on our community’s climate and zero waste programs, says Climate Initiatives Director Jonathan Koehn. “EcoVisits provide that essential service,” said Koehn. “Equipping student leaders with the information and tools they need to educate their peers allows them to help move our entire community’s climate work forward."

The group is made possible by a long-standing partnership between the City of Boulder and the CU Environmental Center – a collaboration that grew from door-to-door education about recycling to strategic outreach on a variety of climate-related topics. At its core, the partnership recognizes the need to engage young people in climate action and educate them on to achieve Boulder’s climate goals.

EcoVisits strengthen community resilience through peer-to-peer advising.

The EcoVisits group offers educational tours to CU students living on and off campus. During these events, members of the EcoVisits team tour student homes and identify places where energy efficiency, water conservation and air quality could be improved with simple, affordable changes. They also provide guidance on reducing energy bills and living a more circular lifestyle.

By participating in the tour, students receive a kit containing tools and materials to start reducing their environmental impact. These “EcoKits” include kitchen compost bins, reusable shopping bags, shower timers and other products that encourage sustainability.

Off-campus EcoVisits tours and the EcoKits are primarily funded by the city.

The Impact

From 2020 to 2021, the EcoVisits group provided 227 visits to households across Boulder. In doing so, the group educated more than 800 students.

In addition to in-person and virtual tours, the group also spreads the word on compost, recycling and reuse through student-authored web posts.

Learn more about the EcoVisits team and explore their online resources on their website.

EcoVisits volunteers pose on a compost bin.