What Can You Do?

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Students at UMD are the real change-makers in sustainability. Their commitment drives UMD’s sustainability, from campus edible landscapes, fresh, local produce offered by dining services, or coffee cups made from compostable material. There isn’t a sustainability initiative on our campus where a student project hasn’t had a role, whether it was to initiate, research, implement, or measure something.  Through learning, research, organizing, and challenging the status quo, our students make a difference.  Below are some examples and ideas, but we encourage you to think about your passion and find a way to GET INVOLVED on campus!

Spread the Word

  • Take classes relating to sustainability – click HERE for examples.
  • Attend UMD Sustainability Fairs and other sustainability related events
  • Encourage others to get involved
  • Join a sustainability group (Student Sustainability Coalition, MPIRG, etc) and think of ideas to help save resources
  • Forward our guide, Sustainable Living at UMD, to new students and dormitory residents to encourage them to live sustainably (to download the guide, right click on the link and choose “save as” to download)

Green Your Office

Small changes can yield big results, especially at a workplace as big as UMD. Being a leader in making sustainable changes in your office can be a challenge. Take a look at our Green Office Checklist to see where your office can make improvements.

The Sustainability Office at UMD offers a “Green Your Office” program, which gives practical tips about topics related to sustainability including: recycling, energy conservation, reducing paper use, making better consumer choices, and hosting green events. Want to start the discussion in your office? E-mail the Sustainability Office at sustain@d.umn.edu to schedule a presentation.

With efforts from students, faculty, and staff from across the UMD campus, together we can lower campus emissions to 50% of 2007 levels by 2020 and operate a carbon neutral campus by 2050, as outlined in UMD’s Energy Action Plan.

Reducing UMD’s Carbon Footprint

Students, Faculty, and staff who work, learn, and live on campus all have a responsibility to help lower our carbon footprint. By following these tips for conserving energy and water, reducing waste, and encouraging sustainability, we can all make an impact. Reducing our carbon footprint is beneficial to the environment, the UMD community, and UMD’s bottom line.

These tips go way beyond UMD, and can lay a framework for anyone to live more sustainably. Of course it’s not a complete list of what can be done, expanding the list of what can be done requires input from a variety of people. A small, innovative idea can spur big changes. We would appreciate any ideas you have to add to this list.

Students living on campus can also read our Sustainable Living at UMD guide. The guide will help you to explore the UMD campus from a sustainability standpoint, as well as what you can do to live more sustainably.

Conserving Energy and Water

  • When purchasing a new computer, consider a laptop over a desktop. Laptops are not only more travel friendly, they also consume less energy than a desktop setup
  • Use energy-saving settings on your computer, we recommend
    1. Turn off monitor – 15 minutes
    2. Turn off hard disks – 30 minutes
    3. System standby – 45-60 minutes
    4. System hibernates – 45-60 minutes
  • Eliminate CRT monitors and screensavers: an LCD monitor can use up to 75% less energy than a CRT of the same size. Screensavers were made to prevent static images from burning onto CRT monitors, which isn’t a problem for LCD monitors. Screensavers don’t save energy and can actually prevent a computer from powering down automatically
  • Use a power strip for computers/television set-ups. Smart Strips are even easier, power can be cut to multiple devices after turning off the main device, making it even easier than flipping a switch
  • When leaving your office:
    1. Turn off lights
    2. Close and lock windows
    3. Power down your computer
  • Look for Energy Star labeled monitors, printers, copiers, lamps, mini fridges, and appliances
  • Dress for the weather
  • Take the stairs if possible: the healthier option that also saves energy
  • If you don’t need the electronically-assisted door openers, don’t push the button as it takes energy to open the door as well as reconditioning escaped air
  • Report leaking sinks, toilets and urinals, broken windows, cracks and leaks, overheated rooms, and other situations which waste heat or energy to Facilities Management at x8262 or submit a work request in Darland 241
  • Share refrigerators, microwaves, and coffee makers

Live on campus?

  • Be water wise.
    1. Don’t let the water run when shaving or brushing your teeth
    2. Shorten hot showers, saving water and energy needed to heat it
    3. Report leaky sinks and shower faucets to housing staff
  • Use the lowest-wattage models of electric hair dryers, shavers, and appliances, and be sure to unplug them when finished. Hair dryers use a lot of energy, 15 minutes of blow-drying releases 1.2 kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, when run for shorter amounts of time much less carbon is pumped into our air
  • Only do laundry when you have a full load
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs
    1. Each incandescent bulb replaced with a CFL saves about $10 and 100 lbs of atmospheric carbon per year

Working in a lab?

  • Close fume hood sashes and turn off non-essential lab equipment when not in use
  • Use energy efficient lab equipment

Click here for more information on energy use at UMD

Reducing Waste

  • First reduce and reuse, then recycle. Recycling still depletes resources, if possible, reuse things like T-shirts as rags or paper bags for book covers. Or better yet, cut disposables altogether, it’s as easy as carrying a reusable water bottle, mug, and shopping bags
  • Review and distribute documents electronically, including e-mail, flash drive, or Google Docs. When printing is necessary, review the document before printing and print on both sides or use the back for scratch paper
  • Remove yourself from unwanted mailing/catalog lists
  • Choose to have your paycheck directly deposited
  • Use a cover sticker instead of cover letter for faxes
  • Reduce margins to maximize printable area
  • Reuse inter-office envelopes, file folders, and boxes
  • Eliminate unnecessary or out-of-date forms and reports
  • Talk about recycling to everyone and encourage it at your home or office
  • Keeping a recycling container at your desk and the trash further away can help to reduce your waste significantly
  • Use only recycled products when possible: bond, typing, writing, and computer paper, and printers/copiers that can print double-sided
  • Circulate memos by using a routing slip instead of making copies
  • Don’t toss your old electronics into the trash, recycle them through ITSS or the Environmental Health & Safety Office

Click here for more information on waste and recycling at UMD

Traveling Wisely

  • Take the bus, it’s free for UMD students, faculty, and staff. Students looking to leave town are also encouraged to use the ride board in the Kirby Student Center as well as the UMD Ride Share Facebook group
  • Ride a bike or walk if you live close enough
  • Invest in a department bike, for use around campus areas
  • Request hybrids from UMD’s fleet when traveling on University business
  • Reduce your travel by working from home, if possible
  • Join a ride share group or start a carpool calendar
  • Green your meetings: try video conferencing. Two rooms are available on campus in Kirby Plaza and the library, ITSS staff members can be there to assist you. It is important to book early – ITSS requests a month’s notice if you need a certain date and time

Click here for more information on sustainable transportation at UMD