Living Sustainably

While you are at UMass Amherst you are part of a community motivated to live more sustainably. Take advantage of the resources to learn about and develop your own sustainable practices. Learn more about SustainableUMass and be a part of this community effort!

Think you’re already a sustainability superstar? Take the Living Sustainably at UMass Quiz to test your knowledge.


UMass is competing in a national competition between colleges and universities to improve recycling (and reduce waste) on campuses. The competition measures recycling across the campus so be sure to recycle appropriate materials whenever possible wherever you are on campus. 

Residential Life, the Residence Hall Association, and the Office of Waste Management are partnering to host a campus wide competition between residence halls!

How does it work?
All you need to do is recycle appropriate materials in your residence hall as much as possible.  Because the competition measures the recycling rate (total recycling divided by total waste produced) there are two ways you can improve your residence hall’s chances of winning:

  1. Increase the amount of materials that are recycled
  2. Decrease the amount of trash produced

Be sure to check out the recycling guidelines below for what is/isn’t recyclable. Some strategies to reduce your overall waste include:

  • Dine In! While take-out containers on campus are compostable, compost bins are only available in and around dining facilities/retail outlets. Once you leave that area these containers become trash.
  • Invest in Reusables!  Use the hydration stations to refill your reusable water bottle rather than buying bottled water. Also consider keeping reusable cutlery and a cloth napkin in your backpack for when you are on the go.
  • Repair & Repurpose!  Repair damaged items rather than replacing and find creative new uses for no-longer used/needed items (an old t-shirt can become a reusable tote bag, etc.).  Seek inspiration from the internet!

What’s in it for me?
Each week 5 students from the winning hall will be selected at random to receive solar chargers for their electronic devices. In addition, Dining is offering a FREE regular coffee at retail dining locations every Monday during the competition if you bring a reusable mug and mention RecycleMania to the cashier. 

RecycleMania runs from February 4th - March 31st.

Check out the Facebook Page “LivingatUMass” for updated standings and contact Laurie Simmons ( with any questions!

For more info on our campus-wide RecycleMania competition and how you can help UMass Amherst rock the competition, visit

For more information about the RecycleMania Tournament and to track our standings on the national leader board, visit:    


Recycling is an expectation for students at UMass Amherst. Please refer to page 12 of the Residential Life Community Standards for clarification.

Students are asked to familiarize themselves with the recycling guidelines (ArabicChinese, Korean, Spanish). For more information visit at

Be sure that you are NOT recycling:

  • Plastic bags
  • Trash bags
  • Cups
  • Black plastic
  • Styrofoam
  • Soda cases
  • Liquids
  • Compostable items

Electronic waste and plastic film recycling is also available at every Residential Service Desk.

New2U Tag Sale

The New2U tag sale is the sustainable move-in/move-out collection and tag sale for UMass. Look out for details about collection at the end of each academic year, and for the tag sale at the start of the fall semester.
This year, the tag sale is taking place in the Student Union Ballroom on September 3, 2017 from 9am-6pm.  Early-Bird access is available for $5.00 starting at 8am. Early-Bird access is available free to international students.

Staying Hydrated

Last year, hydration stations located in the residence halls saved over 1 MILLION plastic bottles! Help us to keep this streak going and always use your reusable bottle when possible.

Don’t buy bulky packs of bottled water! Save time, money, and resources by using the filtered water in your hall!

Saving Energy

UMass has the potential to compound the positive actions of our students and produce lasting change that will help curb climate change. As a student of our University, you are responsible for your own actions which will either aid in our commitment to sustainability, or slow our progress. 

The future of the planet and the health and happiness of the people around us depend on students like you to realize the importance of conservation in whichever way you can. Turn off your lights, unplug your electronics, and shorten your showers whenever possible.


Keep yourself and the planet healthy by purchasing organic, fair trade, local and humane whenever possible. Be aware of “greenwashing”, a marketing tactic used by companies to appear more green. Check out the skin-deep database to determine which cosmetics are safe and which you should avoid. Consider purchasing Energy Star electronics and appliances, a smart power strip, a drying rack, and LED bulbs to save energy in your room. 


Those living in North Apartments, North Village, and Lincoln apartments will notice new bins, signs, and messaging about composting. Compost includes but is not limited to: Coffee filters, tea bags (without staple), 
dryer lint, plant matter, meat and bones, hair, and brown napkins or paper towels. These bins have covers to prevent fruit flies and other pests.

Any questions or concerns about composting in your apartment can be emailed to

Eco-Rep Program

Eco-Rep is a great first step to get involved with sustainability at UMass. Located in every residential area on campus, Eco-Rep is a 2-credit, student-led, and dialogue based course teaching issues of sustainability and ways to make a difference.

Classes meet only once per week on Tuesday or Wednesday nights (depending on the area). Learn about additional opportunities to get involved in sustainability efforts on campus, or take the spring semester class as well for your chance to run an Eco-Rep class of your own!