Your Sustainable Room

Here are just some of the items and practices which you can adopt while living in your residence hall:

Energy Efficiency
Using Resources Mindfully
Environmental Options

Energy Efficiency

Smart Power Strip
By investing in one of these “smart” power strips you can easily reduce your energy consumption, limit your carbon footprint and save money all at the same time! According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, standby power costs the United States economy over 10 billion dollars a year. “Smart” power strips monitor when a primary component such as a computer, has been shut down and automatically cuts power to all auxillary devices that are plugged into the strip.

Energy Efficient Lighting
Choosing LED light bulbs is an easy way to conserve energy and minimize your carbon footprint. This 12.5W Philips EnduraLED is recommended. LED lights are the best sustainable alternative to traditional incandescent bulbs. LED lights use less energy than CFL and up to 85 percent less than an incandescent. This 12.5W Phillips LED light bulb saves the University $22 a year to operate. LED lights offer the advantage of longevity. An LED installed when a child is born is likely to still be working when the youngster graduates from college.

Energy Efficient Appliances
The Green Office Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the EPA advocate for Energy Star or EPEAT certified appliances. Purchasing energy efficient appliances will help save you money, reduce your energy consumption and also reduce your carbon footprint. According to the Energy Star website if everyone purchasing a refrigerator this year chose a model that has earned the ENERGY STAR, together we would save 715 million kWh per year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from about 100,000 cars!

Window Shades
In the winter, your windows can be a major source of heat loss. We recommend that during the winter, you close shades at night and on cloudy days to reduce both your energy consumption and your carbon footprint. However, on those nice and sunny Amherst days you should open those south-facing window shades to reap the benefits of the natural solar energy!

drying rack

Drying Rack
After the refrigerator and the washer, the dryer is widely considered the most energy-hungry appliance. You can air-dry clothes no matter where you live, and this green step will save you money, reduce your carbon footprint, and preserve your favorite clothing longer!

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Using Resources Mindfully

reusable bag

Reusable Bags
UMass Dining has eliminated plastic bags from all Grab ‘n’ Go locations! Each year reusable bags are distributed to students on the meal plan. Moving away from plastic bags is a step toward a more sustainable future. Plastic bags account for more than 4 million tons of waste a year and are clogging up landfills across the globe so make sure to support the environment and grab a reusable bag during your next Grab ‘n’ Go trip!

cleaning products

Green Cleaning
When making your next cleaning products purchase make sure to look for plant-based ingredient formulas and stay away from solvents, phosphates and other harsh chemicals that have the potential to do serious damage to your health and the earth. Looking for the EPA’s safe household cleaner symbol, the DfE, Design for the Environment or the Green Seal are both ways of ensuring that you purchasing environmentally friendly cleaners. This Seventh Generation natural laundry detergent and dish liquid are recommended. They are available at the University Store in the Campus Center..

personal care

Personal Care Products
Personal care products can be both stylish and sustainable. Purchasing items such as organic shampoos, conditioners and lip balms reduces the level of toxic chemicals that can be harmful to both the environment and yourself. And by purchasing toothpaste or deodorant from leading sustainable personal care companies such as Tom’s of Maine, your voice is being heard to further promote the sale and distribution of natural products with sustainable recycled packaging.

shower timer

Shower Timer
You can save water and energy with shorter showers! In 2012 UMass Eco-Reps surveyed students in the Residence Halls to find out how long the average shower was at UMass. The results were staggering, 2/3 of students take showers of 10 minutes or longer. By using a shower timer you are encouraging a shorter 5 minute shower that saves water and energy. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council at least 1/3 of all US counties will be facing high risks of water shortages by 2050.


Recycling allows materials that are thrown away to be manufactured again and to make more useful products. Recycling avoids the costly side effect of burning and burying rubbish, reduces the amount thrown into landfills, cuts back on emissions, and reduces disposal and production costs. UMass Amherst, through recycling efforts by student and staff, annually conserves 45,000 gallons of oil, saves 20,000 trees and avoids $200,000 in disposal charges.

water bottle

Reusable Water Bottle
As UMass Amherst continues to make strides in sustainability; bottled water may be a thing of the past. According to the documentary Tapped, only one-fifth of water bottles are recycled and the process to make plastic water bottles is a very energy intensive process. Manufacturing these bottles requires an estimated 47 million gallons of oil each year. Not only will using bottled water reduce your carbon footprint, but it will also save you money. If you drink one bottle of water per day and pay $1.50 for it each time, you are spending an extra $550 on water! It is time to make a smart investment in a high quality reusable water bottle and join our campus’s commitment to sustainability. Reusable bottles are available at the three convenience stores on campus and the University Store in the Campus Center.

Green Bedding
You can stay green even while you sleep! Choose linen products with natural and even organic fibers. Organic cotton is an environmentally friendly alternative to other environmentally damaging synthetic blends. Catch some zzz’s and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time!

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Environmental Options

Indoor Plants
Getting a small indoor plant will help improve your room air quality by removing some of the most common Volatile Organic Compounds present in the air such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. Plants can be picked up local flower shops and also in some larger grocery stores. Breath clean air and make the small investment in a dorm plant!


Sustainable Snacks
Organic, non-GMO snacks are good for you and for the environment!

Alternative Transportation
Biking, walking, carpooling and taking the bus are all forms of alternative transportation that are available at UMass Amherst. Choosing ones of these alternatives to driving alone saves you money, reduces your carbon footprint, and might even give you some added exercise. In addition, purchasing a bike hanger for your room will help create more space in your room and offer a protected and smart solution to storing your bicycle. Check out UMass’s BikeShare program, a free bike rental service for UMass Amherst students, faculty, and staff for a sustainable alternative to travel around campus. To rent a bike just bring your UCard to Room 420 of the Student Union.

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 Question? Contact us.