Published: Sept. 14, 2020 By

Many of us have goals to be more sustainable. In fact, 95% of CU students want to lower their carbon footprint (according to a 2017 campus sustainability survey). But sometimes it can be challenging to know where to start. It is still possible to take sustainable action in our current environment.

If you’re looking to be more sustainable this year, consider taking the Sustainable Buffs Pledge and join a community of like-minded students in your efforts. As a part of the pledge, here are six things you can do to be more sustainable.

The CU Environmental Center: Your hub for student-led sustainability

If you’re interested in climate, sustainability and social justice, get involved with the Environmental Center. This is your place to learn more and make a positive impact on campus and beyond.

Students started the Environmental Center on Earth Day in 1970. Since then, students have continued to lead campuswide sustainability initiatives. This includes the first student-run campus recycling program and the first bus pass program for students in the nation.

From the annual bike festival to film screenings, workshops, the PIPS Rewards program and more, there are more than 150 events every year.

Learn More About Getting Involved

Carry reusable items

Most single-use items have a reusable alternative. These include water bottles, travel mugs, shopping bags, snack bags and more. Reusable face coverings are another measure you can take right now to be more sustainable. Check out our tutorial to learn how to make your own mask. Be sure to wash your mask after each use.

Reusable items can help keep plastic, Styrofoam and other materials out of landfills. Consider investing in reusable items you look forward to using every day.

Commute by bus, bike or walking

Between gas, parking, insurance, maintenance and repairs, cars can be expensive. Choosing to walk, take the bus or ride your bike can help you save money and be sustainable. Plus, when you register your bike, you can take advantage of free maintenance services at the bike stations.

Biking is a great way to maintain physical distance while on your commute. If you plan on taking the bus, give yourself some extra time, as busses currently have limited capacity.

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.

Eat more plants

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. If you’re using Nutrislice to order your food, you can filter menus to only show vegetarian/vegan options.

Be conscientious about your purchases

Bundle your online orders. Whether it’s going in with roommates on a bulk order of recycled toilet paper, limiting your Amazon orders and/or having them shipped on your Amazon Day, find ways to limit the number of shipments needed for the things you buy online. This also limits exposure for essential delivery workers and may help your purchases arrive sooner.

Buy alcohol-based hand sanitizer in bulk. Most hand sanitizers are made with ethanol, which is plant-based and approved by the CDC to be safe and effective. Avoid hand sanitizers that include triclosan, methanol or benzalkonium chloride, all of which have been shown to be toxic to humans in larger doses.

Be informed

There are many ways to keep learning about how to be more sustainable:

You can also check on your voter registration and make sure you are registered to vote at either your home address or your Boulder address.

Want to learn more? Take the Sustainable Buffs Pledge and get more tips from our guides and resources.

Sustainable Buffs is a series brought to you by the Environmental Center. Learn more sustainability tips and ways to get involved at