Sustainability Tips

Living more sustainably helps you make a positive impact on yourself, others, and the environment. It’s easy to get started! Check out our sustainability tips to see how many are easily added into your daily routine.

Save Energy
  • Replace lights and old appliances with more efficient options. Turn them off when they’re not in use. Try customizing your light switch with a custom DIY decal to remind yourself.
  • Unplug devices when fully charged, and avoid leaving them plugged in overnight (the charger still consumes power when not charging)
  • Use thick insulating curtains and draft guards for your door to keep the heat in. Consider replacing old drafty windows.
  • Use the cold water setting on the washer to reduce the energy needed for heating. For a bonus, try air drying your clothes
  • Calculate your carbon footprint, because the best way to reduce our impact is to know what impact we are having.
Eat Well
  • Look for sustainable and healthy “Menus of Change” meals in the dining halls. Also, look for the green “Meatless Monday Approved” signs in the dining hall to reduce your ecological footprint.
  • Check out the Healthy Dining Team newsletter in the dining halls each week for more healthy eating tips.
  • Learn to cook- Home cooked meals are often healthier. Check out one of the local farmer’s markets for fresh in season produce with fewer “food miles”.
  • Be plant forward thinking- make vegetables the main part of your plate
  • Try taking smaller portions, you can always go for seconds if you need to. It is healthier and leaves less food waste
Conserve Water
  • Turn off the sink while brushing your teeth and take shorter showers. Try timing yourself to your favorite 5 minute song
  • Soak dishes before washing them to easily remove stuck on food with less water. Turn off the tap while scrubbing them.
  • Eat less meat, since it takes ~1,000 gallons of water to produce one ¼ lb beef burger.
  • Switch to reusable bottles and coffee mugs(like your Cupanion) to save money while protecting human water rights and the environment. Look for water bottle fill stations on campus or consider using a Brita filter at home.
  • Only run the dishwasher or washing machine with full loads.
Live Healthy
  • Get active- Bike or walk to class, try a new sport, or check out the RU Rec 2 GO mobile app for fitness classes (free for students), gym hours, intramurals and more.
  • Follow along with the Healthy Dining Team recommendations posted weekly in the dining halls for more tips to eat healthy.
  • Get outside- Enjoy green spaces like Rutgers Gardens or Voorhees Mall to relax and get some vitamin D (check out our gardens and green spaces page for more suggestions)
  • Use the LIVE WELL-VIVIR BIEN NEW BRUNSWICK™ moblie app to find more opportunities for health and wellness in New Brunswick
  • Catch some ZZZzzzzzsss (7-9 hours will help keep you healthy and focused)
  • Promote mental health- surround yourself with good people, practice self-care, and don’t be afraid to seek self-help or professional services.
Try New Transportation
  • Avoid driving, but if you must drive, try carpooling and avoid idling (which gets 0 mpg).
  • Accelerate slowly if driving and stick to the speed limit (going 5 mph above 60 mph is equivalent to adding about $0.20 per gallon to your fuel cost)
  • Break out your bike to beat the New Brunswick traffic and the crowded LX. Learn more here- Check out the New Brunswick Bike Exchange to purchase an affordable used bike ($50-70)
  • For longer trips, take the train or bus(or bike) instead of flying. The train station is right off of College Ave.
Rethink Waste


  • Bring your own reusable container to bring home leftover food or take out
  • Bring reusable bags (like the one you get from take-out) when shopping.
  • Buy products with little to no packaging or with recyclable packaging. i.e. fresh produce or shampoo bars instead of liquid shampoo. (you can even try making your own shampoo and deodorant in reusable containers)
  • For women- Invest in a menstrual cup–reduces waste, cost saving, & convenient!
  • Replace K-cups and take out coffee containers with a refillable k-cup and mug
  • Reduce food waste by taking smaller portions and not buying too many groceries at once.
  • Clean and reuse old jars, take out containers, and bottles. Glass jars are especially good for buying goods in bulk or holding leftovers
  • Plastic shopping bags can be used as trash bags or to collect pet waste
  • Use old notebook paper or one-sided print outs as scrap paper. The computer labs have baskets of one-sided scrap paper you can use


  • Clean and reuse old jars, take out containers, and bottles. Glass jars are especially good for buying goods in bulk or holding leftovers
  • Plastic shopping bags can be used as trash bags or to collect pet waste
  • Use old notebook paper or one-sided print outs as scrap paper. The computer labs have baskets of one-sided scrap paper you can use


  • At Rutgers, separate your trash from recycling, and put all recyclables together in the same bin for single stream recycling ( rigid plastic (1-7), glass, metal cans, paper, cardboard (no grease), and cartons). Click here for more info (INSERT LINK TO RECYCLING PAGE/Guide
  • Recycle plastic bags in the designated bin maintained in the Douglass Student Center by Students for Environmental Awareness
  • Contact us or facilities if your dorm recycling containers are not labelled single stream.


  • Try composting some of your food waste. Even lettuce can take years to degrade in landfills, but composting aerates the material for faster breakdown.
  • Collect old fruit/vegetable scraps, breads/grains, coffee grounds, hair/fur, napkins/paper towels and non-coated paper plates in a container with a lid.
  • Remove any stickers and chop up large pieces before adding to your compost bin.
  • Do not add dairy, meat, fats, bones, oils, seafood, or pet waste.
  • Take your compost to the compost bins at the rear of the cook organic gardens behind the Environmental and Natural Resource Building or find a local composting service.

Trash Your Litter

Shop Smart
  • Buy in bulk from stores that will let you fill up your own containers or look for options with less packaging.
  • Shop at local stores instead of chains to support local business. Look for businesses with a social mission that give back to the community. i.e. Promise Catering and the New Brunswick Community Bike Exchange
  • Shop using apps such as Good On You or Good Guide that rate products based on their ethical and environmental standards
  • Avoid purchasing plastic give-aways for your club- try pens made from recycled newspaper instead of plastic
  • Try upcycling used or worn out goods or purchase more items second-hand.
  • Rent your books, use ebooks, or use the library to save money and paper.
Be Inclusive
  • Language matters- Ask for peoples’ preferred pronouns and be aware of the microaggressions we discussed at NSO. Avoid generalizations such as addressing a mixed gender group as “you guys”.
  • Encourage others to speak up, and give them the space to make their ideas heard
  • Try to talk with new people in the dining hall, on the bus, or in class that you might not have thought of meeting
  • If you are concerned about an individual or incident related to bias, violence, code of conduct violations or other issues, “Do Something” and report your concern at
  • Attend events run by centers from the Rutgers Cultural Center Collaborative or the Office of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Learn more about supporting marginalized groups and victims of violence by participating in trainings and certificate programs such as Bystander Intervention, Safe Zone LGBTQ Allies Training, and Global Ally Certificate Program
Get Involved
  • Volunteer at a community garden, help organize a food drive, or donate to local food pantries. Don’t hesitate to ask for help- the Rutgers Student Food Pantry is accessible to all students and the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market will double every dollar of SNAP or WIC that you spend.
  • Propose your own energy saving solution and compete to win the Rutgers Energy Innovation Contest
  • You can also be physically active for a social cause- try running the Big Chill or the Run for RAH(Rutgers Against Hunger) or join volunteer projects like Habitat for Humanity or city clean ups.
Embrace Education
  • Check out the Rutgers Learning Centers for tutoring, study tips, or to become a tutor yourself.
  • If you are an underrepresented student, or educationally or economically disadvantaged, and interested in STEM, you can also seek help from the Office for Diversity and Academic Success In the Sciences (ODASIS)
  • Support education for local New Brunswick Students. Volunteer with programs such as Youth Empowerment Services, Pilot Me mentoring, 4-H, or The Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service
  • Work with groups such as the Mountainview Project or Petey Greene Tutoring to increase access to education in prison settings.
  • Study abroad to step out of your comfort zone, take new classes, and learn about different cultures.
  • Learn by doing, and get involved with one of our student groups
  • Continue to learn about sustainability and explore the Sustainable Development goals at and track global and local action using the SDGs in Action mobile app.