We plan campus-wide events and activities to encourage enthusiasm for environmental issues and grow our sustainable campus community.
Each Fall, the sustainNU crew helps incoming students move in and properly recycle cardboard boxes. The Office of Sustainability is also present at resource and activities fairs throughout orientation to educate incoming students about the importance of sustainability. In 2015, we partnered with New Student and Family Programs and Athletics to make three Wildcat Welcome events zero-waste.
Graduate students can catch us during Wildcat Welcome at the New Graduate Student Resource Fair.
EPA Game Day Challenge
Although we love cheering on the Wildcats at home football games, we also know it produces a lot of waste. Since 2010, we’ve competed in the EPA Game Day Challenge – a national competition among colleges and universities to promote waste reduction at football games.
Green Cup is a month-long competition, which challenges NU students living in campus residence halls/colleges and Greek housing to reduce energy and water use. Green Cup is a student driven initiative with Students for Ecological & Environmental Development (SEED) leading the effort. The first Green Cup was held in 2006 when students approached Facilities Management with the idea.
The goal of Green Cup is to encourage behavior change and show that small, everyday choices – like turning off lights when you leave a room – can have a big impact on energy use. Residence halls earn points by reducing their energy and water usage per person from an established baseline. Check out the Green Cup page to learn more.
Earth Hour is an annual global initiative to raise awareness about climate change and to demonstrate that in working together, we can make a difference. For one Saturday in March (usually over spring break), individuals, businesses, landmarks, and organizations are asked to voluntarily turn off their lights and other unneeded electronic items to reduce energy consumption. NU asks staff and faculty members to be extra diligent before leaving work for that weekend and shut down lights, computers, printers, copiers, and unplug unneeded electrical items (chargers, lamps, coffee machines, microwaves, power strips, etc.).
Mount Trashmore, an Earth Day tradition, represents how much waste the university generates. We collect the trash produced at Northwestern over six hours and construct a visual mountain of waste to raise awareness about how much our campus throws away. Volunteers dress up as trees and a plastic bag ogre and hand out giveaways to students passing. We aim for a smaller pile each year. Check out the Earth Week recap to learn more.
Bike2Campus and Bike to Work Weeks
NU promotes alternative transportation and healthy lifestyles by taking part in Bike2Campus Week, which is a competition between Chicago-area universities to achieve the most bike rides, and the Bike Commuter Challenge every June, where the NU community competes against other local institutions to log the most biking trips for a week.
The annual “Take it or Leave it” Program, offered during move-out each year, is an on-campus opportunity to donate unwanted items to charity. During move-out a lot of additional trash is generated; in fact every year, "Take it or Leave it" donates nearly 10,000 lbs of reusables. The Office of Sustainability conducts the annual clothing and food drive in all residence halls with an additional collection location at Henry Crown Sports Pavillion (SPAC).
Boxes for "Take it or Leave it" are placed in the lobby/entry of each location - one for clothing/linens/small household items and one for nonperishable food. Boxes will be emptied throughout the program and items will be donated to local charities.
Off-campus students can bring their donations to the "Take it or Leave it" locations or work with Move in Move out (MIMO), a Kellogg student initiative, which will coordinate and pick up unwanted, usable items and resell them back to NU students in the fall. MIMO works to end the cycle of students buying new household items every year.