Sustainability Tips

How to Live Sustainably at DU

Creating a healthier environment and reducing our impact is a collaborative effort that should include everyone at DU, no matter what your role, title, or daily workday looks like.

Below you'll find ideas and tips for reducing your carbon footprint, cutting down on waste, and contributing to a just and equitable climate future.

group of women holding food from a garden

Eating Sustainably

  • Support Local CSAs

    The way we eat can create a significant environmental impact, but there are plenty of ways to reduce this while supporting local organizations, farms and vendors — especially those run by members of historically marginalized communities such as our foodbox program with GrowHaus. The Center for Sustainability has partnered with Ela Family Farms to bring locally grown, sustainable food options to campus, and we're continuing our work with Sodexo to deliver more plant-based options to our dining facilities.

  • Visit Your Local Farmer's Market

    Denver has dozens of farmers markets to visit during the warm spring, summer, and early autumn months. Visit Denver lists some of the larger markets to help you find one near your home, or take a short walk or bike ride from the DU campus to the South Pearl Farmers Market where you will find a plethora of local fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses, breads, food trucks, and many other goodies.  Join the Center for Sustainability Bike Shop for weekly bike rides to the Farmers Market during the fall and spring quarters and take advantage of the cargo bike that makes getting your groceries back to campus a breeze.

  • Grow Your Own

    Growing your own food is one of the best ways to ensure your food is local and sustainable. You can do this on a small scale, growing herbs and small veggies in pots on your porch, or by filling your entire back yard with edible plants - or anything in between. Don’t have space for growing your own food at your home? Join us at the Bridge Community Garden which allows DU faculty, staff, or students to rent a raised garden bed for the summer growing season for a small fee. There you can build community with your fellow gardeners, learn tips and tricks for getting your plants to thrive, and spend time outside getting your hands dirty. Contact Julie Morris (julie.morris@du.edu) to learn more about how to rent a space in the Bridge Garden.

  • Look for the Label

    You can find lots of locally grown and produced foods in most grocery stores near DU. Look for the label that says “Colorado Proud” or “Local!” as you walk through the aisles, and support small or growing local businesses by choosing those brands. When you do this, you help local families, keep your money in the Colorado economy, and help create demand for more local foods in our grocery stores.

bikes parked on campus

Travel and Mobility

  • Biking

    The DU campus is easily bikeable and well-situated within Denver for traveling around the city by bicycle. Register your bike, check out helpful biking tips from Parking and Mobility Services, learn basic bike safety tips from Campus Safety, and keep your bike rolling with help from the DU Bike Shop located in the basement of Nagel Hall.

  • Campus Shuttle

    DU is leading the way in transportation options in providing an on-demand campus shuttle. Shuttle routes are designed to connect from residence halls and the light rail station to classrooms, labs and offices during commuting hours. During the middle of the day, use the Tripshot app to hail a ride to and from any of the 15 stops. This provides access to grocery shopping, coffee shops, dining, and entertainment across south Denver. All shuttle rides are free to anyone with a DU ID and a boarding pass in the Tripshot app. Find out more at the Parking and Mobility Services website.

  • Public Transit

    Traveling by train or bus is one of the easiest ways to reduce your personal carbon footprint. The RTD light rail station located at the north end of campus connects the University to the rest of the city. Undergraduate and most graduate students receive the RTD Student Pass, which allows for unlimited use of bus and light rail service in Denver, the Highway 36 corridor, and Boulder.

    Students and other members of the DU community who need to get around Colorado can also use Bustang, a bus service offered by the Colorado Department of Transportation. Bustang provides access from Denver to Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Glenwood Springs, and other locations not serviced by standard RTD buses.

  • DU Ski Bus

    Our proximity to the Rocky Mountains is a major part of our campus culture and — to ensure students don't have to sit in I-70 traffic to experience Colorado's natural beauty — the Alpine Club runs a ski bus during the winter quarter. Offered in partnership with the Center for Sustainability and the Undergraduate Student Government Sustainability Committee, the Ski Bus operates most weekends during the snowy months, rotating ski destinations each week between EPIC and IKON mountains. Rides are $10 for Alpine Club members and $15 for non-members, and include breakfast on the way up to the mountains.

    Visit the Alpine Club

  • Air Travel

    Jet airline travel is one of the largest contributors to DU's greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing your reliance on air travel can be a challenge. To help with this, when you do fly, you can purchase a carbon offset to help fund carbon-saving programs and tree planting. Students participating in study abroad programs can opt in to carbon offsets through the study abroad portal.

    Learn More About Carbon Offsets

  • No Car? No Problem

    Over recent years, we've made strides to reduce the number of commuters who drive to campus alone. Arrange a carpool with your peers or other DU community members, or make use of a vehicle from ZipCar if you need a car for a day. Many electric scooter programs have launched in the Denver metro area, giving the community another option for low-emission travel, and you can use the Campus Shuttle to get around the University.

    Getting Around Without a Car

students under tent at second hand event

Cutting Back on Waste

  • Reduce

    The most effective way to cut back on your personal environmental impact is to rethink the way you use disposable materials. Plastic food containers, straws, bags and water bottles are all major contributors to the global waste problem. Refrain from using these items whenever possible and, when you buy groceries, bring reusable bags and try to buy in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging you consume.

    Top 10 Ways to Reduce Waste

  • Reuse

    If you do need to use disposable plastic items, put them to new use whenever possible. For instance, instead of buying new glassware and containers for leftovers, reuse the glass jars from pasta sauce, peanut butter and other goods. Reuse is also an effective strategy for other types of items. We encourage students moving out of their residences to donate any unwanted homewares, clothing and other items to our Orientation Thrift Store, where students and community members can find inexpensive furnishings for their residences and homes.

  • Recycle

    Recycling plastic, glass and metal on campus is easy — bins are placed conveniently in virtually every building for these common-use items. Rechargeable batteries and small electronics like old cell phones and wires can be recycled at the Center for Sustainability's Hard-to-Recycle bin. The University's IT department can also help you recycle unwanted electronics.

    Full Recycling Guidelines

    Recycling Guide

  • Compost

    Composting helps reduce emission and waste levels by removing biological products from the garbage stream, where they decay and release carbon into the atmosphere. Composting makes sure that food scraps, plant-based materials and certain types of packaging are transformed into new soil resources, sequestering carbon and supporting future gardening projects. DU has compost services in all of the resident dining facilities, the Anderson Academic Commons and several other buildings around campus.

    Add Compost Service to Your Building

    Full Composting Guidelines

coffee on table

Energy & Water

  • Electricity

    If you sit down and make a list of everything in your residence hall, office, or house that uses electricity, you will be amazed at how long that list really is. Each item on that list is an opportunity for you to reduce the electricity you use at home, school, or work. Check out our tips for reducing energy wherever you are.

    Are you a student who lives off campus? Sign up for a free energy audit through the Renter Efficiency Program for Students (REPS), and get free energy efficiency upgrades, advice on lowering your utility bills, and a free burrito from Illegal Pete's. Email reps@du.edu to get started.

    Ten Ways to Reduce Energy Use

  • Water

    Longtime Denverites know that our city is in a near-constant state of drought, and conserving water is one of the most important ways we can work toward a healthier environment. We're working to cut water usage campus-wide by at least 25 percent, and you can help by taking shorter showers, reporting leaky pipes or fixtures, and only doing laundry when you have a full load of clothes. 

  • Appliances

    As an institution, we're working to phase out inefficient appliances and replace them with Energy Star- or EPEAT-certified versions. When you buy electronics or appliances, check for these certifications that indicate optimal energy usage.

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