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!

    UMass trash from one academic year would fill nearly half of a southwest tower! Each year, UMass sends 3,000 tons of waste to the landfill. Landfills are responsible for one third of all U.S. methane emissions... That’s the same as burning 824 railcars of coal!! We want to ensure, as a community, that UMass is doing its best to keep unnecessary wastes out of the landfill.


    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 (also available in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Spanish). For more information visit

    Be sure that you are NOT recycling:

    • Plastic bags (even if filled with recyclables - dump recyclable items into recycling bin and reuse or dispose of bag in the trash)
    • Cups
    • Black plastic
    • Styrofoam
    • Soda/beverage cases
    • Liquids
    • Compostable items

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

    New2U Collection & Fall Tag Sale

    New2U is the sustainable move-out collection and tag sale for UMass. Look out for details about collection at the end of each spring semester, and for the tag sale at the start of the fall semester. During Spring Move-Out, New2U will place collection tents across all residential areas of campus. Please don’t feed the trash monster! Donate your unwanted items to New2U!

    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 health and body care products 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 and Lincoln apartments will notice bins, signs, and messaging about composting. All food waste (even meat, bones & dairy), coffee grounds & filters, tea bags (staple removed), plants, dryer lint, hair, brown napkins, and all UMass to-go containers. 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 engaging with issues of sustainability and ways to make a difference.

    Classes meet once per week on Tuesday or Wednesday nights (depending on your residential area). Learn about additional opportunities to get involved in sustainability efforts on campusand consider taking the course a second time to be considered for a facilitator position so you can teach an Eco-Rep class of your own!


    UMass is competes in a national competition between colleges and universities to improve recycling (and reduce waste) on campuses every spring. 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 partner 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 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!