Published: Jan. 27, 2023

CU compost flyerThe University of Colorado Boulder is home to some of the leading sustainability programs and environmental research in the nation! As Sustainable Buffs, it is our duty to be mindful of our habits and take full advantage of the opportunities we have in Boulder to be as sustainable as possible in our everyday lives. By holding ourselves accountable with integrity, we promote a more balanced future of energy exchanges that are regenerative to the earth, rather than exploiting our environment. Join the legacy of passionate CU students on the forefront of sustainability by adopting these simple sustainable habits.

Plan your grocery shopping

There are many ways to consciously approach shopping for food. As college students, we are just learning how to stock our refrigerators and take care of ourselves, which often results in unnecessary food waste. By planning beforehand rather than shopping impulsively, you can avoid wasting money and food. One way to shop mindfully is to plan your meals for the week and find recipes before you go shopping. Another tactic for mindful shopping is to tune into your body and what you need, versus what you may want at the moment. Rather than going to the store while hungry, try to eat before so you can shop with a clear head. A great place to shop sustainably is Nude Foods, a zero waste grocery store in Boulder. You are allowed to keep the glass jars they sell food in, which is great for storage. It's also a good idea to bring your own bags and avoid unsustainable packaging when possible.

If you are struggling to afford groceries, schedule an appointment to visit CU’s Buff Pantry, which is located in the UMC next to the bookstore downstairs. To make an appointment, first click the “Join” button on Buff Pantry’s CU Serves page to fill out the client intake form. From there, you can schedule a time to come in and pick up some free food!


Composting your food waste is a simple way to be sustainable in your daily life. When you throw food waste in the trash, it releases methane, is not as easily broken down and is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Excess methane in the atmosphere is one of the leading causes of climate change. When we compost our food waste, we create the foundation for valuable, nutrient rich soil as the food breaks down. Student environmental activists have worked hard to further composting efforts all over campus. Green composting receptacles can be found at all of the main waste stations as well as the bathrooms on campus. To learn more about proper composting practices, check out this Composting 101 guide. It is vital for the CU community to get on board with composting. Recently, students, faculty and staff have not been composting correctly. This has led compost to become an expense to our school rather than a return on our investment, which threatens the future of our composting initiatives. We all need to learn to compost our food waste properly, or we may not have the option to do so on campus in the future due to the contamination of the waste streams, which are very difficult and costly to sort.

Eat organic 

Soil is alive with microorganisms that we need to grow food. Pesticides kill these essential organisms that make up the microbiome of the soil. By choosing to eat organically, we support the organic food system and farmers who are doing this vital work to help us nourish our bodies. You can purchase organic produce at the local farmer's market.

Use public transit

As a Buff, you have a free RTD pass. Boulder has some of the most clean, comfortable and most efficient buses that are constantly running to get you where you need to go. The average traffic volume in Boulder on a given day is very high as a result of students and professionals commuting in and out of the city. One of the leading causes of global warming in our atmosphere is the pollution byproducts from transportation. Not only are there environmental incentives to limit traffic on the road, but also monetary ones as the prices of gas have been volatile. Take the bus! It is so easy and you can save hundreds in gas money, while also saving energy by taking the bus to get around.

Boulder is a microcosm of sustainable opportunities for CU students in terms of transportationcompost and healthy food. We can take these values with us as we grow into our positions in a workplace in the future. Practical everyday solutions exist all around us and consumers do have power to drive the market of sustainable developments. “​​Unsustainable patterns of consumption and production are root causes of the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution" (UN SDG Report 2022). If our patterns of consumption can do so much damage, choosing sustainable habits can propel humanity in a new direction with regards to our relationship to the environment. Although one person’s choices won’t restore the earth right away, the collective effort of many can shift our economy over time as we start to value sustainability in our everyday consumption choices.

DIY project: grow your own organic herbs on the windowsill

What you will need:

  • seeds for your favorite herbs (cilantro, chives, parsley, basil and rosemary are some popular ones)
  • a well-lit windowsill or grow lights
  • nutrient-rich soil
  • containers/pots

Fill a container with soil and sprinkle with seeds, covering the seeds again with a layer of soil. Pat gently. Keep the soil moist but not too damp as the seeds germinate and follow the watering instructions specific to each herb. Make sure you label them so you remember which herb is which. If you choose to add fertilizer to the soil, make sure to use one labeled safe for edible plants. Soon after, you will sprout affordable, organic, packaging-free herbs from your home!