What is Sustainability? The capacity to sustain current life without compromising the ability to live well for future generations.

Things students can do on campus to live sustainably:

  • Recycle (bins distributed to each residence hall room, available in each kitchenette as well as large dumpster type containers outside halls and apartments)
  • Unplug electronics not being used
  • Don't purchase overly packaged goods
  • Shop locally - use reusable bags or choose not to take plastic bags when shopping (Americans use 100 billion plastic bags each year. This amounts to 12 million barrels of oil.)
  • Walk or bike through campus
  • Turn off water - faster showers!
  • Report any leaks or dripping faucets
  • Buy used items
  • Use green cleaning products (it is what the custodial staff utilizes)
  • Turn off your lights when you leave the room or they are not needed
  • Open the curtains to let in natural light
  • Skip bottled water
  • Avoid styrofoam

The Three R's of Sustainability


Recycling is very easy to do! There are hundreds of locations around campus where you may recycle - including big blue recycling bins near dumpsters behind residence halls. These large bins have places to recycle various paper products, plastics and glass. Each residence hall has recycling bins inside, whether they are in the lobby or in kitchenettes. Each room also has a small bin. University Apartment residents have small bins that are collected on a regular basis and recycled.

Throughout the academic and other buildings around campus, keep an eye out for various recycling containers in the hallways and classrooms.

If you see something that needs to be recycled, don't be afraid to give the earth a hand and recycle it!


Avoid creating extra waste when choosing products and making daily decisions. For example, use a non-disposable water bottle and refill it after every use. (True, you can recycle the plastic disposable bottles, but there is still waste after they are recycled, and can only undergo the process in a limited amount.)

Bonus: not having to constantly buy water will also save you money - save green - go green.


Don't be afraid to reuse products, such as once-written on paper. Print on both sides of your paper.

Books are another great way to follow this 'R' - buy used books! This is not only an earth friendly option, but also wallet friendly. CMU also has a large accessible library on campus - maximize your use of the resources available there rather than purchasing your own.

Try to buy rechargeable batteries and products that use these.

Fact: Disposable water bottles when reused over time leach chemicals from the plastic into the water.

Challenge: For every item thrown away recycle at least the same amount.

Campus Dining and Sustainability

  • Trayless dining continues to conserve energy and water and limits the amount of cleaning products used in the process, as well as decreases food wastes.
  • Reusable shopping bags are sold to eliminate the waste created by plastic shopping bags
  • More than 200 Natural or Organic products are offered at C3 and Market convenience stores
  • Students that bring in a reusable mug to any Java City Coffee House on campus will receive a discount in appreciation of creating less waste with one-use cups!

Grab a copy of Campus Dining's sustainability brochure at any Residential Restaurant for a complete list of Campus Dining sustainability initiatives.

*Thanks to the CMU Student Environmental Alliance group for much of this great information!*