Published: Sept. 9, 2021

Many of us have goals to be more sustainable. In fact, 95% of CU students want to lower their carbon footprint (according to a 2020 campus sustainability survey). But sometimes it can be challenging to know where to start. It is possible to make positive impacts with even the smallest actions. While a concept like Zero Waste might feel intimidating, it really is about taking incremental steps to live a more sustainable lifestyle and it’s easier than you might think.

If you’re looking to be more sustainable this year, consider joining the Sustainable Buffs Community and join a community of like-minded students in your efforts. Taking the Sustainable Buffs Pledge subscribes you to sustainable lifestyle emails and is the first step in becoming a more sustainable member of the Buff community.  As a part of the pledge, here are five things you can do to be more sustainable.

Reduce your plastic

Most single-use plastic items have a reusable alternative. These include water bottles, travel mugs, shopping bags, and snack bags. Try to find something to replace disposable plastics with a reusable option, like bringing a refillable water bottle to campus. There are bottle filling stations all over campus. Consider buying a bamboo toothbrush over a plastic one.

Reusable items can help keep plastic out of landfills. Consider investing in quality reusable items you look forward to using every day.

Recycle and compost

At CU Boulder, recycling and composting are convenient and great for our environment. There are bins and posters all around campus to help make it easy. You can review the campus recycling and composting guides to learn more about how to determine what is recyclable or compostable. If you live in one of the residence halls, check out this video on how to recycle.

Change up your diet

Even one day a week of plant-based meals has an impact! According to Project Drawdown, eating plant-based meals is the third most effective way to reduce carbon emissions globally out of the top 100 solutions.

For some affordable and healthy ideas, check out Meatless Monday recipes. If you’re on campus, all dining centers have vegetarian and vegan options. Use Nutrislice to filter menus to show vegetarian/vegan options. There are also plenty of imitation meat options like black bean burgers at The Alley @ Farrand. You can also use milk alternatives in things like your coffee and cereal. Give almond or oat milk a try!

Leave your car at home

Choosing an alternative to driving is not only good for the environment, but can also save you money. Between gas, parking, insurance, maintenance and repairs, cars can be expensive. All students get a free RTD pass and can ride public transportation in the Boulder and Denver area.  If you plan on taking the bus, use the Transit App for up-to-date bus routes.

If biking is more your speed, you can register your bike with the E-Center and take advantage of free maintenance services at the bike stations. If you don’t own a bike, Boulder B-cycle has free memberships for CU students, and there are several stations on campus.

Take a closer look at what you buy

Making small changes to your purchases can have an impact. If you order things online, you can bundle your orders to reduce emissions from multiple deliveries. Think about switching to recycled toilet paper or paper towels. It only takes a little research to find out which companies and products are more sustainable. Generally, buying locally grown food and locally made products has a smaller effect on the environment.