Creating a Green Culture on Campus

Sustainability has become an increasingly vital part of higher education programing. In the past few years institutions have begun to realize the importance and benefits of reducing their carbon footprint by initiating programs that promote recycling on campus. Between students and faculty, Universities create an enormous amount of waste annually. According to Dump and Run, Inc., the average college student produces 640 pounds of solid waste each year, including 500 disposable cups and 320 pounds of paper. Here is five ways to reduce your campuses carbon footprint.

  1. Digital Forms: Saying goodbye to paper forms is a sure way to reduce campus wide waste. Our forms feature gives you the power to create, manage and share forms in one central location.
  2. Donation Bin: During move in and move out students leave behind unwanted items that ultimately end up in a dumpster. A better solution is to donate those items to charities like goodwill.
  3. Green Transportation: Smart cars are a little pricy but starting a campus bike share program is a great way to provide green transportation for students and staff.
  4. Incentivize Recycling: Creating competition around recycling and rewarding those efforts is an awesome way to get students and staff involved in your green initiatives.
  5.  Multiple Recycling Locations: Having a number of recycling bins around campus and resident halls makes it convenient to recycle while on campus.

We’ve highlighted a few universities, small and large, that have made strides to improve their campuses sustainability through green initiatives.

Arizona State University

The Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University is the center of all green initiatives on campus. The institute conducts research, provides education, and green business practices. The School of Sustainability curriculum focuses on developing solutions for environmental, economic, and social challenges.


ASU has green initiatives in multiple departments like food services, water conservation, service and maintenance and grounds. Alternative transportation and eco-friendly buildings also litter the campus. Here are examples of a few unique programs:

The ASU Sign Shop, run by the ASU environmental graphic design group, design near-zero waste modular signage systems that utilizes reusable, recyclable, low-emitting materials, and reclaims old sign for reuse.


The Paint Reuse program takes leftover paint and filters/stirs the old paint for reuse on small projects around campus and in the community.

The grounds crew ride three-wheeled bicycles that pull small carts, allowing grounds and maintenance to navigate the 700 acre campus easily.

Drake University

Over the past few years a number of departments at Drake university have committed to their paperless initiative program. Drake Athletics have switch to digital schedules, itineraries and media guides saving an estimated 692,640 sheets of paper annually.

Their Office of Residence Life has adopted electronic ballots and evaluations. Drakes dining hall has installed LCD menus and many professors now post handouts online.

Maryland University

The university of Maryland has implemented various programs to reduce waste and recycles a wide range of materials including wood, metal, food, bottles, cans, yard waste, construction debris, electronic equipment, and a variety of “industrial wastes” like motor oil, antifreeze, batteries among other materials.

Their single stream recycling allows students and faculty to place all of their recyclable materials in one bin. This includes plastic containers, cardboard, aluminum, and glass.


Two times a year they hold a Trash to Treasure program that focuses on reducing the amount of waste left behind during resident move in and move out. Often students leave behind items they don’t have room for to bring home. The items are donated in hopes to increase support of local charities and reduce barriers to various non-profits.

UMD also participates in Recyclemania,  a ten-week sustainability contest sponsored by the United States Environmental Protection Agency that stretches across colleges and universities nationwide. In 2014 UMD was #1 in the State of Maryland, #3 in the state for waste minimization and #2 for the food service organics category.

rmlogo_new w reg. mark

Loyola University

In 2011 Loyola University implemented a content solution for a number of departments including: Human Resources, Student Administrative Services, Payroll, Accounts Payable, Resource Management, Investment and Treasury.

According to an Incontext article, by switching to digital files opposed to paper forms, Loyola’s office of undergraduate admission alone has saved enough paper to reduce its carbon footprint by 13.2 tons of CO2e annually which equates to enough energy to run a laptop for 37.5 years or Enough gasoline for the average Loyola employee to commute to and from work for 2.4y ears.

Other benefits they reaped from switching to a paperless solution includes: the decreased physical space needed to store files, Less duplications of data, reduction in the amount of time spent retrieving documents and time spent filling out a form, Increased security of sensitive documents, and savings across the involved departments.

Please leave us a comment of other green initiatives on your campus and to learn more about our Forms feature click here!


Anthony Freese

About the author: Anthony Freese is the former Director of Marketing at Check I’m Here, the complete student engagement platform. Learn how we can help get your students involved.

Check I'm Here is now Presence. Learn more about this change in our blog post here.