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Sustainability Tips

Residence Halls

  • Use compact fluorescent bulbs, which last longer and use less energy than regular bulbs.
  • Turn off unnecessary electrical devices when you leave a room for more than 15 minutes.
  • Enable your computer to go into "sleep mode" when not in use.
  • Do not leave computers on all night.
  • Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use.
  • Unplug cell phone charger when charging is complete.
  • Use natural light rather than electric whenever possible.
  • Pull down window shades at night in the winter and during the day in the summer.
  • Go old school -- try a standard phone with a cord instead of a cordless model, which requires constant energy.
  • Turn off and defrost refrigerator over long breaks.
  • Don't use power strips to turn on your computer and desk equipment all at once.
  • Buy inexpensive mugs and plates that you can wash rather than disposable ones and avoid over-packaged takeout food.
  • Reuse envelopes, advertisements, and previously used paper for notes.
  • Buy a water filter and refill a reusable container instead of buying cases of bottled water.
  • Share magazines and books.


  • Take shorter showers; don't run the water before getting in, and turn off the water when lathering.
  • Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth and shaving.
  • Report leaky faucets and showerheads.
  • Don't use the toilet as a garbage bin. Toss tissues and waste in trash cans.


  • Only wash full loads of laundry.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water.
  • Air dry whenever possible.
  • Use products containing the least amount of bleaches, dyes, and fragrances.


  • Use refillable binders instead of notebooks or use a laptop.
  • Use recycled paper.
  • Take notes on both sides of paper.
  • If it’s OK with your professor, hand in assignments by printing on both sides of the page. 
  • Unless you’re handicapped, don’t use automatic handicap doors.



  • Never pour hazardous chemicals down the drain.
  • Use as small an amount of chemicals as possible by following instructions and being exact when measuring out starting materials.
  • Reuse cleaning solvents such as acetone and alcohol for initial cleaning of dirty glassware, using fresh solvent for the final rinse only.
  • Prepare chemical waste for disposal as per instructions in the hazardous waste management program.


  • Always provide proper waste minimization and disposal instructions to students
  • Redesign experiments to minimize hazardous chemical waste and to replace toxic reagents with less hazardous substances.
  • Order reagents in exact amounts to avoid leftovers.
  • Distill and recycle solvents for use in demonstrations.
  • Make sure chemicals are clearly and properly labeled.

Art & Photography Studios

  • Use nontoxic, biodegradable art supplies.
  • Replace oil-based paints with water-based paints.
  • Modify spray-painting techniques to minimize over-spraying.
  • Use biodegradable, nontoxic cleaners.
  • Minimize use of cleaning solvents for brush cleaning by reusing dirty solvents for first rinse and fresh solvents for final rinse only.
  • Clean brushes with lavender oil instead of turpentine.


  • Eat locally grown foods, support our Farm to Campus program.
  • Carry a reusable cup or water bottle. Some water bottles come with built-in filters if you're worried about the quality of the tap water.
  • Limit the use of paper napkins.
  • Only take what you will eat to limit food waste.
  • Use a reusable to go container if taking food items from the dining area and return it for a new clean one on your next trip.
  • Dispose of waste in the correct container, recycle items that can be recycled.


  • Carry a tote bag for shopping so you don't have to use a plastic bag.
  • Purchase durable rather than disposable products.
  • If you get a plastic bag, reuse it and recycle it.
  • Go vintage. Buying used clothing saves money, decreases the use of resources to make clothing and puts a dent in the problem of sweatshops.
  • Also buy used furniture and books.
  • Buy recycled products, such as paper, and get environmentally safe cleaning products.  


  • When you print or photocopy, use both sides of each sheet of paper.
  • Save pages that you've printed and use the backs to print out drafts and other things you don't have to turn in.
  • When possible, use your printer's low-quality setting to save ink.
  • Bookmark webpages instead of printing them for research.
  • Edit on screen, not on paper.
  • Use e-mail to minimize paper use.
  • Advertise events using e-mail, Facebook and Twitter and other social media instead of printing paper. 
  • Departments should reduce the amount of waste by purchasing only what is needed for the immediate future. Buying in bulk can save money but not if the item will go unused and need to be thrown out. This is especially true for chemicals which are very costly for the University to dispose of. Recycle all waste that is recyclable.
  • Reuse or repurpose personally owned items before throwing them away or consider giving them to a charity if they are still usable. The disposal or recycling of all MSU property must be handled by Procurement Services. 

On Campus & Around Town

  • The campus community should reduce their amount of personal driving by choosing to walk, bicycle, carpool or ride the bus.
  • Get involved in Earthwise Eagles projects, contests and other activities.
  • Get involved in our community sustainability events and meetings.
  • Pick up loose trash you see on the ground and put it in the proper receptacle.
  • Don’t litter, if you’re a smoker, properly dispose of your cigarette butts.
  • If you drive your own personal vehicle, make sure you fix any leaking fluids to prevent contamination of our storm drains which lead to the local creeks and rivers.
  • Enjoy our nearby nature areas and greenspaces.
  • Support the local farmers market.