Published: Jan. 25, 2023 By

Many of us have goals to be more sustainable. A 2020 campus sustainability survey shows 95% of CU Boulder students want to lower their carbon footprint. It is possible to make positive impacts with the smallest actions. Concepts like Zero Waste might feel intimidating, but it is about taking incremental steps to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

If you’re looking to be more sustainable this year, consider joining the Sustainable Buffs Community. You’ll subscribe to sustainable lifestyle emails and connect with like-minded students. It is the first step in becoming a more sustainable Buff. Here are five things you can do to be more sustainable.

Limit your food waste

Transporting and storing food for consumption uses a great deal of energy. When you can, it’s generally better to eat local and seasonal food. Not only will this reduce your carbon footprint, but you’ll have fresher food.

About a third of all food grown in the U.S. is thrown away or wasted, taking a significant toll on our carbon footprint. When eating at on-campus dining halls, take only what you plan to eat. Remember, you can go back for more. When eating food from home, prioritize eating perishable food first and prepare meals around what you have. Then, you only need to buy ingredients to complete meals. Consider using an app like Mealime or Paprika to help you plan meals.

Eat more plant-based meals

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. All on-campus 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 coffee and cereal. Give almond or oat milk a try!

Recycle and compost

At CU Boulder, recycling and composting are convenient and great for our environment. There are bins and posters around campus to help make it easy. You can review the campus recycling and composting guides to learn how to determine what is recyclable or compostable. If you live off campus, check your neighborhood’s guidelines to recycle and compost properly at home. 

Take time to understand what items and materials to avoid placing in recycling or composting bins to keep the process efficient and effective. If you live in one of the residence halls, check out this video on how to recycle.

Leave your car at home

Protect the environment and save money by choosing an alternative to driving. 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 areas. 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 Environmental Center and take advantage of free maintenance services at the bike stations. If you don’t own a bike, Boulder BCycle has free memberships for CU Boulder students. There are several stations on campus to check out electric pedal-assist bikes, making getting around even easier.

Use the CU Ski Bus to catch a convenient ride to resort locations on the Ikon Pass this season. Purchase passes online in advance to reserve a spot on the bus. Standby tickets are available on a space-available basis for riders without a reservation. Enjoy a day of skiing without the hassle of driving.

Reduce your plastic

Reusable items can help keep plastic out of landfills. Most single-use plastic items have a reusable alternative. These include water bottles, travel mugs, shopping bags and snack bags. Try to find reusable options to replace disposable plastics, like bringing a refillable water bottle to campus. There are bottle-filling stations all over campus. 

As you replace or purchase new items, consider investing in quality items you look forward to using every day. For example, you could purchase a bamboo toothbrush over a plastic one.