Live Green on Campus

Live Green on Campus

Live Green on Campus

As you prepare to move into a residence hall, you can make a difference by making some environmentally-conscious choices while living on campus. See this virtual dorm room for some ideas on how to live green on campus.

Many of these tips also apply if you live in an apartment or condo.


  • Instead of buying a fridge or a microwave and hauling it to campus, consider the UI rental program.
  • If you need a fridge in your room, make sure you don’t have one for each person –share one fridge instead.
  • Ask yourself if you really need a TV. Most students rely on watching streaming video on their laptop instead of hauling a bulky television to school.
  • If you must bring appliances to campus please make sure they’re Energy Star products.
  • During cooler months, close windows, drapes or blinds at night to keep in warmth. Open them during the day to benefit from the sun’s natural light and heat. During the warmer months, close windows, drapes and blinds during the day to shut out the sun and keep the room cooler.
  • Get several power strips for your room so that you can completely shut off appliances (including printers, computers, clocks, game consoles, etc.) when they’re not in use. This is especially important when you leave for the weekend or a break!
  • If you bring a lamp to school, make sure you use CFL or LED bulbs to save energy. Always turn off the lights when you leave the room!
  • UI Energy Dashboards will help you understand your residence hall’s energy demands. You can have a positive impact by conserving energy every day.
  • Keep radiators unblocked by furniture to allow warm air to circulate.
  • Save money by using a drying rack instead of relying on residence hall dryers. This is especially helpful for delicate clothing items.
  • Learn how to use your computer’s energy saving controls. Have you programmed it to automatically “go to sleep” when it isn’t being used? Is your computer an Energy Star product? 
  • When you study, use a desk/task lamp (using CFL or LED lamps) instead of overhead lighting to focus lighting where you really need it. Or, study under natural daylight. Throw open the blinds and pull a chair over to the window.
  • Try using a fan instead of turning on the AC. If you must turn on the AC, make sure to use the energy-saving mode. Consider turning the temperature control “up” on the AC unit (or turn it off completely) when the room is vacant.  Makes sure to turn the personal fans “off” when you leave the room.
  • Investigate using a solar charger for e-readers, tablets and phones.
  • Always contact hall coordinators if you have any problems with your room temperature or if you notice water leaks or lighting outages.
  • Support our great Cambus program and use the BONGO app on your smart phone to find out when your next bus is due.
  • Consider Zipcar  so you don’t have to bring a car to campus.


  • Perfect the five minute shower  - it can be done! Always turn off water while you brush your teeth.
  • Use plant-based, planet-friendly laundry detergents and wash in cold water. Wash full loads only.
  • Since all water consumed on campus is treated and pumped by the University’s own water treatment plant, whenever you reduce water consumption you automatically reduce the University’s energy consumption!
  • Go trayless. Don't use a dining hall tray and you'll save on water used to clean them and will cut down on food waste (and help your waist).

Be Healthy

  • Try going meatless or vegan one meal a day.
  • Invest in organic cotton or bamboo bedding.
  • Use organic/no chemical personal care items.
  • Plants help your room’s environment by purifying the air.  They also boost your wellbeing.
  • Support local, organic and fair trade foods and beverages. Seek out local, vegetarian and vegan dining options offered by UI Dining Services.
  • Get active:  bike or walk to class. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Bike rental is available at UI Recreational Services: ;  see for more  bike resources.
  • UI’s Wellness Program is here to help you to get healthy.
  • Use green cleaning products to keep your room fresh.
  • Check out Iowa City’s award-winning Farmers Market for great tasting and healthy foods.

Reducing waste

  • Learn about the UI sort-free recycling program and use your recycling bin every day to reduce landfilled waste.
  • Avoid bottled water. Have several reusable water bottles and use Elkay Filling Stations located in your residence hall and across campus for fresh, chilled and filtered water.
  • Invest in reusable dining ware such as plates, utensils and so that you can avoid using disposable items when you want to eat in your room.
  • Always use UI Printing Services before using your own printer. Better yet, go paper-free.
  • Always buy 100% recycled content paper and paper products. Save paper for note taking and double-sided printing.
  • Iowa City and Coralville are home to many great second-hand, fair trade and organic clothing stores, so why buy new? If you really want a change in your sartorial style, organize a frock swap or treasure trade on your floor.
  •  Check out used room furnishings from the many stores in Iowa City and Coralville. The UI also runs a great surplus shop where you can buy gently used furniture, equipment and even athletic apparel.
  • Say NO to a bag at the store. If you end up with a plastic bag, repurpose it for trash or packing.
  • Bring several reusable shopping bags to school. They’re great for shopping, hauling books or even moving.
  • Moving in and out: use reusable packing materials. Transport clothes and other items in laundry baskets, bags, or suitcases. If you need to use cardboard boxes, break them down for recycling after the move.
  •  If you have any usable furniture, clothes, housewares, unopened food items or unused personal care items at the end of the academic year, they can be donated to the UI’s move-out program.
  • Consider e-book purchase or rental before you buy a hard copy.

Getting involved and reducing stress

  • Stay in touch with your Resident Assistant and residence hall governance to talk about any issues and to ensure student housing is green, safe and welcoming.
  • Start or join a green team on your floor to promote sustainable practices.
  • Get involved with student service organizations. They offer lots of opportunities to get active and give back.
  • Your college days go by faster than you think. Find time for yourself every day to relax and reflect.