Living Sustainably

While you are at UMass Amherst you are part of a community motivated to live more sustainably. Sustainability is a community effort at UMass that crosses units and disciplines and is woven throughout our academic and social spheres. Sustainability is a complex concept seeks balance between environmental health, social equity, and economic vitality. It is often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to do so.

Take advantage of the resources below to learn about and incorporate sustainable practices into your daily rhythms on campus. Our actions, as individuals and as a community, have impacts beyond us. It is our responsibility to minimize these impacts through our actions by living sustainably every day. Learn more about SustainableUMass  and be a part of this community effort!

Check out our Living Sustainably at UMass Open Moodle training, open to all UMass community members! Note: If you haven’t used Open Moodle before, you will need to create an account with your netid and pw. If you are a student in the Residential Academic Program (RAP) or Residential Life staff member, you may have already noticed the Living Sustainably at UMass training alongside your other courses in Moodle.

Waste

UMass trash from one academic year would fill nearly half of a southwest tower! Each year, UMass sends roughly 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. You can do your part by reusing/repurposing/donating items, recycling, and composting appropriate materials.

Some strategies to reduce your everyday waste include:

  • Dining 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.
  • Investing 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.
  • Repairing & Repurposing!  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!

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!

Recycling

Recycling is an important waste minimization strategy that keeps recoverable materials out of landfills. Recycling is an expectation of everyone at UMass Amherst. 

Students are asked to familiarize themselves with the recycling guidelines (also available in ArabicChineseKoreanSpanish). For more information visit UMass.edu/Recycle and test your knowledge with this recycling quiz!

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

Contaminants in the recycling stream mean that LESS materials are recycled, not more. Recycle clean!

Electronic waste and packaging (including plastic film) recycling is also available at every Residential Service Desk.

Composting

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, napkins & paper towels, and all UMass to-go containers. These bins have lids & compostable liners to prevent fruit flies and other pests. If you run out of liners, contact your area ARD/RD.

Any questions or concerns about composting in your apartment can be emailed to living@umass.edu

Staying Hydrated

Hydration stations located in the residence halls have saved over 3 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, resources, and space by using the hydration stations in your hall and in nearly every building across campus!

Saving Energy & Water

UMass has the potential to compound the positive actions of our students and produce lasting change that will help curb climate change. As a member of our UMass community, 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 whatever ways you can. Turn off your lights, unplug your electronics, and shorten your showers whenever possible. Wash only full loads of laundry and use cold water (your clothes will last longer too).

 If you experience temperature control issues in your space, please file an iService request  rather than opening your window. We always want you to be comfortable and this way we can fix the root of the problem! Also consider purchasing Energy Star-rated electronics and appliances, a smart power strip, a drying rack, and LED bulbs to save energy in your room. 

Products

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. 

Eco-Rep Program

Eco-Rep is a great first step to get involved with sustainability at UMass. 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 in residence halls across campus.

Students will learn about additional opportunities to get involved in sustainability efforts on campus and beyond. Students who take the course a second time are considered for facilitator positions so they can teach an Eco-Rep class of their own!

Sustainable UMass

From sustainability course listings to campus sustainability events, programs, and student organizations, Sustainable UMass is your one-stop shop for all things sustainable at UMass Amherst! Get involved today!