Sustainability Tips: It All Adds Up

It All Adds Up

Welcome to It All Adds Up, the University of Minnesota’s sustainability campaign

Sustainability can and should be accessible to everyone. While the majority of the work to mitigate climate change requires systemic change, there are many simple ways to get involved on campus and in our community. Not everyone has to join a group or go to a Climate March, but you can switch out a plastic water bottle with a reusable one. Biking and walking instead of driving keeps you healthy and decreases the amount of CO2 released into our air. The less excess CO2, the better and healthier the air quality for us. Turning out your lights or refraining from blasting your AC in the summer not only helps our Earth by cutting down coal demand, but saves you every month on your bill!

In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” If we all make active decisions to change the little things, we are one step closer to conserving our natural resources and ensuring a healthier, more equitable, and more sustainable life for all. Find out how to get involved on campus: 

Sustainability Tips 

Welcome, new and returning students!

The University of Minnesota is committed to incorporating sustainability into its teaching, research, and outreach and the operations that support them. The University is working toward net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In 2019, 41% of our electricity came from renewable sources, and our emissions have been reduced 51% since 2008, but there's still work to be done.

Here are some of the many ways you can be a more sustainable Gopher on campus.

Scholars Walk

Biking on Campus

  • Enjoy the nearly 6.5 miles of dedicated bike lanes and paths on campus!
  • Join the ZAP Bike Program to earn points toward gift cards just for riding your bike around campus. To get started, get your free ZAP tag at The Hub Bike Center.
  • Visit The Hub Bike Center for repairs, gear, classes, bike lockers, showers, and more.
  • Check out Nice Ride bike sharing, available April-November at public kiosks across campus. Bikes can be returned to any Nice Ride kiosk.
  • Read up on rules of the road, bike safety tips, maps, how to use a bus bike rack, and more.
HourCar car sharing

Hourcar Vehicle Sharing

  • Hourcar is the largest vehicle sharing program in the Twin Cities! The program has 4 locations on campus and guarantees 24/7 access to vehicles.
Choose ReUSe and WIN

Choose ReUse and WIN!

  • Americans throw away 25 billion disposable cups per year. Get rewarded for reusing your water bottle or mug! The Choose ReUse and WIN! program encourages the use of reusable beverage containers. Pick up a free Choose ReUse and WIN! sticker or use your 2020 Weeks of Welcome bottle, download the free Fill it Forward app, and earn points toward rewards.
Choose ReUSe and WIN

ReUse Program

  • The University of Minnesota's ReUse Program diverts one million pounds of material from going to waste each year. When it comes to sustainability, reuse is always better than recycling! The ReUse Program also hosts public sale days where you can find furniture, school supplies, dishes, and so much more! This fall, shop by appointment at the ReUse Warehouse.

Recycling and Organics Recycling on Campus

  • Sort your waste! On campus, waste is collected in four streams: paper, cans & bottles, organics, and trash. These streams result in high-quality materials that can be recycled locally. Learn more about how to sort your waste
  • Recycling a bottle, a can, or a piece of paper might not feel like it makes a big difference on its own. But as a campus, these recycling streams add up to millions of pounds of waste diverted from the trash incinerator every year. 
  • Organics recycling is available at many waste stations across campus. Food scraps, paper towels, pizza boxes, and more can be composted through the organics recycling program. 


Fresh Produce


Dining on Campus

  • M Food Co. is working to minimize their environmental footprint by practicing waste reduction, reuse, and recycling. Food waste and compostable packaging are recycled in all dining facilities, and reusable mugs and to-go containers are available on campus. Many of the foods offered in the dining halls are sourced locally to support local farmers.
Students Outside Coffman Memorial Union

Enjoy the View

  • Landcare has converted nearly 50 acres of traditional lawn areas to low input alternatives including prairies, urban meadows, bee lawns, green roofs, and more, and has introduced green infrastructure on many campus projects. Explore these features and enjoy our beautiful campus on the Sustainability Walking Tour.
  • Stormwater features help reduce pollution in the Mississippi River. You can help keep the Mississippi healthy, too, by picking up litter on campus.


Campus Connector


Campus Buses and Metro Transit


Sustainability Education


Sustainability Education

Get Involved

  • There are more than 1,000 student groups and organizations on campus that meet regularly, host programs and events, and provide service to the Twin Cities area. Join a student group such as Voices for Environmental Justice, UMN Energy Club, Sustainable Systems Management Club, and many more to meet peers and discuss sustainable practices and the intersection of environmental issues and equity and social justice in our world.
  • Apply to be a Sustainability Advocate and become a zero-waste expert for your residence hall! Gain hands-on sustainability leadership experience educating peers on sustainable practices, plan (socially distanced) zero waste community events, and more in partnership with the Recycling Program, Office of Sustainability, and Housing & Residential Life.
  • Join a Living Learning Community such as CFANS House in Bailey Hall to connect and build relationships with students who share the same passion for the health and wellbeing of our natural world.

It's easy to make a difference. It all adds up! Save energy and resources in your daily life with these small steps:

  • Plug devices into a power strip and turn it off when not in use and hit the lights every time you leave a room
  • Conserve water by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth and limiting shower length. Did you know that the 17th Avenue Residence Hall uses collected rainwater to flush toilets, adding up to over 200,000 gallons per year?
  • Take the stairs
  • Think twice before printing
  • Turn heat or air conditioning systems down or off when you're away
  • Use reusable food and beverage containers
  • Think twice before you throw something away - Can it be fixed, reused, or upcycled?
  • Shop local and support community farming
  • Find more tips from the UN or The Conversation.

Show us how you're being a sustainable Gopher! #MySustainableU
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