Sustainability Survey

Sustainability Survey

The Office of Sustainability sent a survey to the entire campus population in 2021. The survey was designed gather information on sustainability literacy, culture, and attitudes in our campus community. In addition to fulfilling the requirements of STARS reporting, which is a point-based system used by colleges and universities to measure campus sustainability efforts, the results help shape on-the-ground sustainability efforts.

If you’d like to access the survey data for more in-depth details of responses, please reach out to Alex Frank (

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Sustainability Knowledge Questions

This set of questions tests the knowledge of the respondents on certain sustainability topics. The bolded answers are the correct responses to this portion of the survey. How well do you understand sustainability topics?

Q5: Which of the following components are included in a comprehensive definition of sustainability?

a. Social components
b. Economic components
c. Environmental components
d. All of the above

Q6: Which of the following is the most commonly used definition of sustainable development?

a. Creating a government welfare system that ensure access to education, health-care, and social services
b. Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs
c. Setting aside resources for preservation, never to be used
d. Building a neighborhood that is both socio-demographically and economically diverse

Q7: Many economists argue that electricity prices in the U.S. are too low because…

a. The do not reflect the costs of pollution from generating the electricity
b. Too many suppliers go out of business
c. Electric companies have a monopoly in their service areas
d. Consumers spend only part of their income on energy

Q8: Which of the following makes up the smallest percentage of power generated in Wisconsin?

a. Hydropower
b. Nuclear
c. Coal
d. Solar

Q9: Of the following, which action is the most sustainable?

a. Reduce
b. Reuse
c. Recycle
d. Landfill

Q10: What does the term “greenhouse gas effect” mean?

a. An increase in backyard gardening
b. The degradation and predicted loss of the ozone layer as a result of increased levels of carbon dioxide
c. The releasing of particulate-filled fossil fuel emissions into the air
d. The trapping of the earth’s radiation in the atmosphere by gases, which raises atmospheric temperature

Q11: Which of the following foods is the most carbon-intensive to produce per kilogram?

a. Chicken
b. Asparagus
c. Corn
d. Beef

Q12: What is the name of the primary federal agency that oversees US environmental regulations?

a. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
b. Department of Health, Environment, and Safety (DHES)
c. National Environmental Agency (NEA)
d. Federal Pollution Control Agency (FPCA)

Q13: What is a food desert?

a. Urban or rural areas without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food
b. An arid region unsuitable for farming
c. Food that has been deemed unacceptable for human consumption
d. A delicious treat served at the end of a meal

Q14: Using resources in a circular economy model means to…

a. Mimic nature’s circular process where there is no waste in nature
b. Create goods that are infinitely recyclable
c. Send goods through a linear path of extraction, processing, manufacturing, consumption, and disposal
d. Recycle first and then reduce what cannot be recycled
e. I don’t know

Q16: Receptacles exist for collecting food scraps in various locations on campus. Where does the material waste collected in these containers go?

a. Composter
b. Anaerobic digester
c. Landfill
d. Incinerator
e. Other

Q17: Compostable plastic beverage cups are available at some dining venues on campus. Which of the following available disposal options is the most sustainable choice for the compostable cup? (Not included this in graphs, should we?)

a. Food scraps
b. Plastics Recycling
c. Metal Recycling
d. Landfill
e. Other

Sustainability Habits

This set of questions addresses behaviors from campus users that relate to sustainability.

Q18: During the past academic year (2020/2021), what method did you use most often to travel to and from campus?

a. Did not travel to campus, remote only
b. Bike
c. Walk
d. Bus
e. E-bike
f. Drove personal vehicle
g. Rideshare
h. Other

Q19: “Sustainable food” can be defined as one or more of the following: locally sourced, organic, from humanely-treated animals, antibiotic – and hormone – free, grass-fed, from sustainable fisheries, or Fair Trade. During the past year, about how much of your food consumption were “sustainable food”?

a. All/ most
b. More than half
c. Half
d. Less than half
e. None
f. I don’t know

Q21: During the past year did you participate in any of the following at UW–Madison?

a. Environment or sustainability-related student orgs, like CLEAN, ERBN, WSCAC, etc.
b. Sustain-A-Bash
c. Family Dinner Night with SlowFood UW
d. Earth Week events in April
e. Nelson Institute’s Earth Day Conference
f. Green Fund info sessions
g. Academic talks about environment and/or sustainability topics
h. Gatherings in support of climate action, divestment, or other sustainability-related topics
i. Solve Climate by 2030 Teach-In
j. Amplifying BIPOC Voices in Sustainability series
k. 2020 Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education (free registration provided by UW–Madison)
l. UW–Madison Diversity Forum
m. Global Health Institute Symposium
n. Wisconsin Energy Institute Forward in Energy Forum
o. Wisconsin Energy Institute Sustainable Energy Seminar Series
p. UW System Sustainability Conference
q. Other
r. None, did not participate in any of the above

Q26: While at UW–Madison, have you taken or taught a course where sustainability is discussed in the context of any of the three paradigms, e.g. environment, economy, or society (answer the question based on your most sustainability intensive course experience)?

a. Yes, the entire course centered around sustainability as a core concept
b. Yes, sustainability was often discussed in the course, but was not a core concept c. Yes, sustainability was discussed occasionally during the course
d. No, sustainability was never discussed during the course
e. I am staff, and this is not an applicable question based on my role

Awareness of UW-Madison Sustainability Efforts

This set of questions assesses the campus population’s awareness of sustainability-related activities and programs offered at UW–Madison. What is your awareness of these offerings?

Question 22 is split into 16 parts. The answer choices are the following and apply to all:

a. Very aware
b. Somewhat aware
c. Not too aware
d. Not at all aware

Q22_1: How aware are you of UW–Madison’s efforts to conserved energy?

Q22_2: How aware are you of UW–Madison’s efforts to Encourage people to take a bus or ride a bike?

Q22_3: How aware are you of UW–Madison’s efforts to Promote ride sharing?

Q22_4: How aware are you of UW–Madison’s efforts to Promote recycling?

Q22_5: How aware are you of UW– Madison’s efforts to Promote food from sustainable sources?

Q22_6: How aware are you of UW–Madison’s efforts to Reduce greenhousegas emissions?

Q22_7: How aware are you of UW–Madison’s efforts to Maintain campus grounds in an environmentally friendlymanner?

Q22_8: How aware are you of UW–Madison’s efforts to Protect the surrounding lakes?

Q22_9: How aware are you of UW–Madison’s efforts to Promote diversion of food waste from landfill?

Q22_10: How aware are you of UW–Madison’s efforts to Conduct zero waste events?

Q22_11: How aware are you of UW–Madison’s efforts to Conserve water?

Q22_12: How aware are you of UW–Madison’s efforts to Promote sustainability through Campus as a Living Laboratory?

Q22_13: How aware are you of UW–Madison’s efforts to Promote the sustainability course attribute?

Q22_14: How aware are you of UW–Madison’s efforts to Engage with the campus community about sustainability via social media and/or electronic newsletters?

Q22_15: How aware are you of UW–Madison’s efforts to address sustainability from social, economic, and environmental perspectives?

Q22_16: How aware are you of UW–Madison’s efforts to Incorporate values of diversity, equity, and inclusion into sustainability programming?

Interest and Opinions

This set of questions inquires about personal opinions related to sustainability and climate change.

Q20: Which statement best approximates your own view of sustainable food/dining options at UW–Madison?

a. UW-Madison provides an adequate amount of sustainable food/dining options, and they are generally appealing
b. UW-Madison provides an adequate amount of sustainable food/dining options, but they are generally unappealing
c. UW-Madison provides fewer sustainable food/dining options than I would prefer
d. I care about UW-Madison providing sustainable food/ dining options, but I am unaware of whether there are any
e. I do not care about UW–Madison providing sustainable food/ dining options

Q23: How sure are you that climate change is happening?

a. Extremely sure
b. Mostly sure
c. Somewhat sure
d. Unsure
e. It is not happening

Q24: How sure are you that climate change is caused by humans and their activities?

a. Extremely sure
b. Mostly sure
c. Somewhat sure
d. Unsure
e. It is not happening

Q25: Which of the following statements best describes your level of interest in sustainability?

a. I have no interest in sustainability
b. I am neither interested nor disinterested in sustainability
c. I have a slight interest in sustainability
d. I have a moderate interest in sustainability
e. I have a strong interest in sustainability
f. I have a passion for sustainability
g. I have never heard of the concept of sustainability prior to this survey

Q27: Are you familiar with how the Wisconsin Idea and sustainability are related?

a. Yes, I understand how the Wisconsin Idea and sustainability are related
b. Yes, but it’s a little murky to me how they are related
c. No, although I am familiar with the Wisconsin Idea
d. No, I am not familiar with the Wisconsin Idea
e. No, although I am familiar with sustainability
f. No, I am not familiar with sustainability