What You Can Do

Get involved!

Join a committee on the sustainability council. Request a green office, lab, dorm room, or event audit. Contact any council member or Kirk Leichliter.

Tips for eco-efficiency

Click a tab below to see how you can help, no matter where you are.

  • Turn it off. Turn off lights, lamps, computers, printers, TV’s, radios, and any other equipment when not in use.
  • Unplug it. Many electronics such as TV’s, computers, cell phone chargers, electric razors, etc. still use power (phantom plug loads) when they are plugged in.
  • Use a Lamp. Study by a lamp instead of lighting your entire room.
  • Use CFL’s. If your lamp has an incandescent light bulb, replace it with a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL), which uses about 25% of the electricity of that incandescent bulb.
  • Air Condition Wisely. First of all, if it is cooler outside than it is in your room, then you do not need to run the A/C, simply open your window. If you do use A/C, set it on low and turn it off when you leave the room.
  • Shut the Window. In the winter, do not open your window to cool the room. If the heater is too high, turn it down.
  • Conserve During Breaks. When nobody is in the residence hall, make sure that you have shut off the heater or A/C
  • Take Shorter Showers. This will not only save on water but it saves on the tremendous amount of energy required to heat water
  • Laundry. Wash clothes only when they need to be washed and only run full loads. Use cold or warm water instead of hot, which will save on energy. Hang your clothes to dry as much as possible. To get that stiff feeling out, throw your clothes in the dryer for five minutes
  • Report Maintenance Issues. Keep sink faucets and shower faucets from dripping and report those that do.
  • Use Natural Light. If you don’t need your lights on, don’t turn them on. Also, most hallway lights in residence halls are automatically switched off during daylight hours.
  • Lounges. Most lights can be turned off in lounges and bathrooms when the last person leaves since many of these spaces have one fixture is on at all time for safety.
  • Turn Down Your Heat. Most rooms are equipped with thermostats that will allow you to adjust the room temperature.
  • Lights Out. If you are the last person to leave a classroom, please turn out the lights and shut any open windows. While a number of campus classrooms are equipped with motion sensors, many are not. If your class is the last one of the day, the lights may stay on all night.
  • Ask Your Professors About Sustainability. Sustainability is about finding new ways for our society to operate to reach the goals of environmental, economic and social justice for the health and security of our generation and generations to come. Because of the breadth of these issues, every academic discipline must be engaged in reshaping many aspects of our communities. In your classes, take the opportunity to ask your professors how their work related to sustainability. Consider how lessons you learn relate to the challenges associated with having a growing population on a planet with finite resources.
  • Take Sustainability Electives. Think about how you can address sustainability in your discipline and take electives that will strengthen your understanding of sustainability issues.
  • Submit Your Green Ideas. Many people have ideas to make the campus more sustainable. Some of the ideas may be new. Submit your ideas to any member of the Sustainability Council.
  • Recycling Should be the Last Resort. We too often think of recycling as an ultimate sustainable task. Always remember, Reduce- Reuse- Recycle in an order of processes. Reducing the amount of stuff you use should always be the first priority.
  • Print Only if Necessary. You know to recycle paper, but what you might not know is that the quality of paper degrades each time it is recycled. Each time paper is recycled, the tree fibers are made smaller. After paper is recycled several times, the fibers are too small to make new paper. Thus, you are not in the clear if you recycle all of your paper, yet you use it excessively.
  • Print Double Sided.
  • Print Wisely. Be mindful of how much paper you will use when printing and adjust your document accordingly. Cut down the margins. Print single or 1.5 spaced. Delete text you do not need.
  • Drink Tap instead of Bottled Water. In the US, tap water is regulated by the EPA and is perfectly safe to drink. In fact, many bottled water companies actually just fill their bottles with clean tap water. Getting your water from water bottles increases the plastic use plus fuel that was burned to transport the water bottles to the store. The only small risk of drinking tap water is if you live in a house with old plumbing. Small amounts of lead can leach from the water pipes into the water. In this case, buy a water filter to remove the lead.
  • Use Rags Instead of Paper Towels. If you need to use a paper towel, rinse it and reuse if possible (do not reuse paper towel if it was contaminated with something that could risk your health)
  • Use Reusable Cups instead of Disposable Cups. Paper comes from trees and paper cups end up in a landfill. Although reusable cups will need to be washed, using water, the production of paper cups uses water as well. Paper cups are non- recyclable because of food contamination and the plastic coating.
  • Recycle Everything you can't Reuse. Place all of your paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and aluminum cans in the recycling bins around campus. Find out what your city lets you recycle at home.
  • Do Not Use Disposables. When possible, always use a ceramic plate, glass and silverware when dining in... but there are times when polystyrene containers are the only options.
  • For Here. When given the option of for here or to go, reduce the unnecessary waste by dining in.
  • Take Only What You Will Eat. This is an easy way of reducing consumption and saving some money.
  • Eat Less Meat. The average American eats enough meat to get the amount of protein recommended for Olympic athletes. Meat intensive diet is hard on the environment because livestock require lots of land area and resources to grow. Many large livestock operations also release harmful pollutants to our waterways.
  • Integrate Sustainability Into Your Classes. Sustainability is about finding new ways for our society to operate to reach the goals or environmental, economic and social justice for the health and security of our generation and generations to come. Because of the breadth of these issues, every academic discipline must be engaged in reshaping many aspects of our communities. Take the opportunity to show your students how your discipline relates to sustainability. Consider how your lessons relate to the challenges associated with having a growing population on a planet with finite resources.
  • Reduce Paper Usage. Instead of making paper handouts, post electronic documents. . Send documents and memos electronically If you must print something, print double sided.
  • Develop Sustainability Guidelines. Many people need to learn about sustainability and need guidance to be more sustainable. Develop guidelines for your department that describe specific sustainability practices that should be followed. Think of all of the activities your department is involved in when developing the guidelines
  • Think Sustainably. When selecting equipment and products, select those that minimize water and energy use and generate the minimum amount of waste products, including wastewater. When contracting services, select vendors who have incorporated sustainability into the services they provide, including the products they use and the means by which they manage waste products resulting from their services.
  • Think About Your Influence. You may have many opportunities at your workplace to reduce consumption of materials. For example, if your work in a retail store and a customer is buying a pair of socks, ask them if they need a bag instead of automatically giving them one. If you work in an office and want to send a memo or newsletter, do it electronically instead of using paper. Thank of all the wasteful practices in your workplace and act to correct them.
  • Use Post Consumer Content Paper. Purchase at least 30% post consumer content paper for all of your office needs. 100% post consumer paper is readily available and is of high quality. Ensure all department brochures, posters, and other printing projects are on 100% post consumer paper.
  • Purchase Recycled Materials. For any materials you purchase, check for products that contain recycled material. Also consider if the product can be recycled at the end of its life.
  • Use the Recycling Bins. Recycling bins should be in every building on campus but they might not be in the best locations. You know the habits and patterns of your coworkers best. If you see that a recycling bin would be more effective in another location, please work with the recycling crew to have it relocated.
  • Reduce Chemical Usage and Hazardous Waste. Purchase chemical products that are environmentally friendly, that is, non-hazardous whenever possible. Only buy the quantity needed. Unused chemicals make up the majority of the hazardous waste requiring disposal.
  • Do Eco-Friendly Office Parties. Instead of using disposable cups (especially polystyrene), ask everyone in the office to bring their own cup to keep in the office.
  • Report Maintenance Issues. If you see a leaky faucet, running toilet, lights that are constantly on, or anything else that is wasting water or energy, please report the issue.
  • Request Student Help. Many students seek opportunities to be involved in sustainability projects on campus. Use the campus sustainability website to identify your project and recruit student volunteers.
  • Submit Your Green Ideas. Many people have ideas to make the campus more sustainable. Some of the ideas may be new. Submit your ideas to any member of the Sustainability Council.
  • Be a Role Model.  Students learn from the content of lectures, from your behaviors and from their surroundings. Demonstrate sustainable behavior in class by accepting electronic assignments, encouraging recycling, using less paper, etc. Help make the University of Northern Colorado a sustainable campus by doing your part and encouraging others to do theirs.
  • Take Public Transit. A bus or carpool requires much less energy per person than single occupancy automobiles.
  • Ride A Bike. The bicycle remains the most efficient form of transportation ever invented and of course, it uses no fossil fuels.
  • If You Drive, Drive Less. Even if you get 60 MPG, you still burn gas by driving. Plan trips and errands to make each trip in your car most productive.
  • Accelerate Gently. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to rapidly accelerate 2000 pounds of steel, glass and rubber. Save gas and reduce harmful emissions by accelerating gently.
  • Drive The Speed Limit. Most vehicles get the best gas mileage around 55 mph. Every mile per hour above 55 mph requires increasingly more fuel since wind resistance becomes the limiting factor.
  • Inflate Your Tires. Very important to fuel economy is tire pressure. Inflate your tires to the maximum PSI listed on the sidewall of the tire instead of what is listed by your auto manufacturer. The ride might be a bit stiffer than before but you will have much less rolling resistance.
  • Maintain Your Vehicle. Changing your oil, replacing the air filter and doing all of the other recommended maintenance will keep your car running efficiently and help it last longer. Washing and waxing even helps cut down wind resistance, but do not wash your car during drought conditions.
  • Buy Less Stuff. Purchasing environmentally friendly products is good but not purchasing any products is significantly better. Focus your shopping on needs instead of wants.
  • Shop Online. Shopping online eliminates your need to drive to a store. However, be careful not to purchase goods that must travel a long way to get to you.
  • Buy Local Goods. From office equipment to vegetables, buy products that are produced locally. Doing so promotes a healthy local economy and reduces fuel consumption from the transportation of goods.
  • Avoid Excessive Packaging.
  • Buy in Bulk. Buying products that are packaged in larger quantities reduces the use of packaging material, but only buy what you will use.
  • Reuse Foil and Plastic Baggies
  • Avoid #5 Plastic. The recycling process for #5 plastic is less efficient than other plastics. Because of the relative inefficiency, many recycling plants do not accept #5 plastic.
  • Bring a Bag. Use reusable bags or a backpack at the grocery store to avoid using plastic bags. The US uses 100 billion plastic bags pre year. That’s roughly 333 bags per year per person—nearly a bag per day! Some places give you a discount for bringing your own bag.
  • Buy Recycled Materials. If society recycles, yet doesn’t use the recycled material, the benefits of recycling stop with diverting trash from the landfill. The benefits of producing from recycled material are lost. Buying products made from recycled material will close the recycling loop. It will also make recycling more cost effective.
  • Buy Energy Star Products. Look for the energy star logo on products such as light bulbs, windows, TV’s and air conditioners. Energy Star products might cost a little more up front, but they use significantly less energy than non-Energy Star products.
  • Buy a More Fuel Efficient Car. When it is time to replace your vehicle, buy a car that suits your needs and is fuel efficient. Some hybrid cars today get around 60 mpg and some models are expected to get around 80 mpg.


Your Gifts Support Sustainability at UNC

If you’re interested in contributing to sustainability efforts at UNC, your financial contribution can help fund important initiatives, have a direct impact on students, faculty, academic research and programs, enhance community outreach efforts and make a positive difference locally and globally.

Mail a check to:

UNC Foundation
Judy Farr Alumni Center
Campus Box 20
Greeley, CO 80639

Please contact the Office of Development for more information about how to contribute to UNC’s sustainability efforts here on campus.

Office of Development
Judy Farr Alumni Center
Campus Box 20
Greeley, CO 80639
(970) 351-2034

News & Announcements

powerED Presentation (PDF)

UNC named a Bronze Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists. Read more here.

UNC has been named a "Tree Campus USA" for the second year in a row!! Read more here.

UNC President Norton speaks about sustainability efforts here on campus in the 2013 State of the University address. Read more here.

UNC receives the city of Greeley's 6th annual Environmental Stewardship Award. Read more here.

Sustainability Goals here at UNC (PDF)

UNC's Green Guide (PDF)