Seven tips for sustainable campus living

This fall, thousands of Spartans will return to campus, and their use of resources will have a huge impact on the environment. But believe it or not, choosing a green lifestyle at Michigan State University is easy. Living in a residence hall means limited space, which is the perfect opportunity to practice being a minimalist. Enlisting these simple tips to green your lifestyle will assist MSU in its goals for conservation and reduced energy use.

1. Furnish your room on a budget with thrift store décor

A photo of a residence hall room that features decor purchased at the MSU Surplus Store.

Check local thrift stores, the MSU Surplus Store, or Freecycle for gently used furnishings available in the area. You can dress up used items with your own flair using the cash you save by not purchasing new, all while preventing material from reaching the landfill. 

2. Make recycling easy and efficient by creating your own recycling station

.A short video GIF that demonstrates how cardboard boxes can be used to collect recyclable material.

Recycling stations are located in common areas of most residence halls, but creating your own station within your room will save you trips to the recycling bins. Save two boxes from moving, use one for plastic and metal, and one for mixed paper, and purchase a small trash can - you will think twice about what can be thrown away when the landfill bin holds less material. 

 

3. Save cash with reusable beverage containers

A short video GIF that shows someone filling a reusable coffee thermos at a Sparty's coffee station.

When eating outside the dining halls, purchase a reusable coffee thermos and water bottle to avoid single-use cups and plastic bottles. Many locations, including Sparty's, will offer a discount for bringing your own mug, and a reusable water bottle will pay for itself in only a few cases of bottled water. 

 

4. Embrace eco-friendly transportation for exercise and reduced emissions

A photo of a student riding a bike down MSU's Farm Lane.

Photo courtesy of Communications and Brand Strategy

Sustainable transportation options are abundant at MSU, and greening your commute offers a number of important benefits, both to you and the environment. It is significantly more cost effective, it is not dependent on traffic, and greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions, all while giving you exercise.  

5. Replace fewer bulbs and reduce energy use with efficient lighting

A short video GIF that demonstrates how desk lighting can be used in a residence hall.
Enlist natural light to brighten your space and avoid use of artificial lighting by opening blinds during the day. Bring lamps and use single desk lighting instead of overhead lights when possible, and purchase compact fluorescent or LED lightbulbs, which use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs. 

6. Prevent waste by eating sustainably

 A short video GIF that shows food disappearing from a plate. 

The number of food choices in the dining halls can be overwhelming, and it is tempting to taste one of everything. Consider trying something before you take it, or ask for smaller portions to prevent throwing leftovers away. Opting to skip the tray will make dining sustainably much easier. 

7. Green your electronics for easy energy conservation

A short video GIF that shows a student inserting plus into a power strip.

Even when electronic devices are turned off, being plugged in or set to sleep mode still draws phantom energy. Purchase a power strip so you can quickly unplug all your devices and conserve the most energy possible when they are not in use.


At MSU, green is more than a school color, it is a responsibility. Working together, the Spartan community has the power to greatly reduce our impact on the planet. You do not have to spend green to be green, and MSU needs your commitment in order to reach its goals for a sustainable future.