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Living Green on Campus

Sustainability is the ability or capacity of something to be maintained or to sustain itself. It is about taking what we need to live now, without jeopardizing the needs of future generations.

Here, at UW Oshkosh, sustainability has been on the radar for years. Being one of the first universities in Wisconsin to commit to the movement, UW Oshkosh has received many awards and recognitions for our efforts in making the Earth a safer and cleaner place. The following are just some of the more recent awards UW Oshkosh has received:

  • Sierra Club declared UW Oshkosh #3 on its 2015 “Coolest Schools” List.
  • ranked UWO #5 of the Top 50 Greenest Universities in America for 2015.
  • UWO placed 8th out of 167 schools in the nationwide RecycleMania Competition for food waste reduction.
  • In 2013, UW Oshkosh was one of 21 schools to make Princeton’s “Green Honor Roll”.
  • UW Oshkosh was the very first university to be declared as a Fair Trade University in the nation.

As a part of our campus’ sustainable efforts, The Department of ResLife focuses on educating residents about sustainable behaviors and living more sustainable lives.

Information and programs are distributed in the Residence Halls each month based on the Green Guide to Campus Living and the themes presented in this guide. These themes include reducing water use, conserving energy, eating green, and so much more. ResLife also emphasizes correct recycling habits and encourages residents to exhibit these sustainable practices.


Wise Up about Water

Over 71% of our Earth’s surface is covered by water, but only 1% of this limited resource is available for drinking. Due to increases in water shortages around the world, as well as a decrease in the general quality of the Earth’s water, this resource needs to be preserved. Do your part to save this necessary, but limited resource, and follow these tips.

Shorter Shower

A 10-minute shower uses over 25 gallons of water. If one takes a shower for this long every day the water used quickly adds up. Make it a personal goal to reduce your shower time by one-minute everyday, until you reach only 5 minutes. Remember every minute you shorten 2.5 gallons are saved!

Turn off the Tap

One easy way to conserve water is to turn off or reduce water flow while brushing your teeth, shaving, or doing your dishes. You can save gallons of water per day just by turning off the tap.

Fix It Fast

Small leaks can add up quickly to gallons of water lost. In fact, a faucet leaking 60 drops per minute will waste up to 192 gallons per month and 2,304 gallons per year. If you find a leak in your residence hall submit a work order to housing to get it fixed. Every drop counts and you could help prevent the loss. To submit a work order visit:

Save Energy

Unplugging electronics and turning off lights are just some of the easy ways one can save energy. Help propel power savings on campus with these easy energy saving tips.

Hit the Switch

Lighting accounts for 15 percent of electricity use on campus. Help reduce energy in your residence hall and on campus by always turning off the lights when leaving a room. Open your blinds during the day to profit from the sun’s natural light or use task lighting instead of overhead lighting.

Pull the Plug

Did you know that your TV uses electricity even when it is turned off? Same goes for your game console, stereo, printer, coffee maker, and any other electronics or appliances that have a standby mode. Unplug these energy vampires when they are not in use, or before leaving for vacation. Better yet, buy a “smart” power strip that automatically turns off these gadgets when not in use.

Computer Catnap

Screensavers use just as much energy as a computer in regular operation, so hibernate or “sleep” your computer when it is not in use. Completely shutting down your computer is another great option to save energy, as well as guarantee the conservation of your computer’s battery.

Power Purchase

Many companies are becoming aware of our society’s need to conserve energy and have begun to produce energy saving products. Some of these products include Energy Star electronics/appliances, EPEAT certified computers, laptops instead of desktops, and CFL and LED light bulbs.

Leaner Laundry

Residence hall washers and driers are already highly efficient but you can save even more energy by washing clothes in cold water and only washing full loads.


If not shut tight, windows and exterior doors can allow excess air to be released to the outdoors. This connection to the outdoors makes the heater or air conditioner work harder, which requires more energy to run. Make sure that windows and doors are shut tight to help reduce energy consumption, and if you find air leaking out of a campus building via a window or door submit a work order to have it looked at and fixed. Work orders can be submitted at:

Save Energy Sustainable Vocabulary

  • Vampire Electricity: energy that is produced from appliances even when they are not in use, but are plugged in. Most vampire appliances and electronics account for about 4-5% of the energy in an average home. Also known as phantom energy.
  • Wind Energy: the process of taking wind, a renewable and plentiful resource, and making it into energy
  • Solar Energy: a source of renewable energy that is provided by the sun.
    • Sage has solar panels that are used to light all the classrooms and heat the water in the building. Blackhawk, Albee, and the heating plant also have solar panels.
    • Task Lighting: lighting used to increase illumination on the reading area, for example desk lamps.

Eat Green

Choose to eat foods that have the least environmental impacts and are produced in more sustainable ways. Chew on these tips for more eco-friendly eating.

Find Eco Eats on Campus

UW Oshkosh has many facilities where students can buy and eat local foods. Blackhawk and Reeve, for example, serve local food, save gallons of water with trayless dining, compost, and recycle cooking oil into biofuel. You can also find fair-trade organic coffee and milk from the local Rosendale Dairy Farm at Sage Café and the Mi-Tazas. For more information about Green Eating on Campus visit:

Waste Watcher

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Waste less food by only putting on your plate what you can eat. To calculate what goes into making your food and how much of an impact the food you eat effects our planet visit:

Mind the Meat

It takes a lot of energy and water to produce one pound of meat; in fact over 2,400 gallons of water are used to produce each pound. Try going meatless occasionally by filling your plate with other plant-based protein sources such as beans, nuts, seeds, and peas.


Eating local food supports local farmers while also reducing the travel time and environmental impacts from the farm to your fork. Look for local food options in campus dining halls or grow your own food by joining the UWO Community Garden Club.

Friend a Farmer

Find the freshest local foods at the Oshkosh Farmers Market. You can directly talk and get to know the people who grow your food, and be in control of the quality food you eat. Located downtown Oshkosh, the summer/fall farmers market is only a few blocks from campus. You can find fresh fruits and vegetables, beautiful flowers, egg rolls, cheese, and so much more. For more information visit:


Eat Green Sustainable Vocabulary

  • Food Miles: Number of miles it takes to get food from the producer to the consumer.  Most of our food travels over 3,000 miles!
  • Fair-Trade: an item that is Fair Trade certified ensures that farmers receive a fair price for the item they sell. Also allows farmers to invest in techniques that bring out the flavors of their region, and strictly prohibits slave and child labor.
  • Organic Food: produce grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or ionizing radiation. Also prevents farms with animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products from giving animals antibiotics or growth hormones.
  • Organic Coffee: coffee produced without the aid of artificial chemical substances, such as additives, pesticides, or herbicides.

Waste Less

Don’t be trashy. Help make UW Oshkosh leaner and cleaner by reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting. Waste less with these tips below.


In 2015 the city of Oshkosh adopted Single-Stream Recycling, a method that allows residents to put all recycling materials in one recycling bin. Our university has been working hard to educate students and staff of this new method and have participated in programs and contests to do so. In fact, in 2015 UWO participated in Recyclemania, a competition that promotes waste reduction on campuses across the states. UWO ranked #8 out of 167 schools in food waste diversion, and #35 out of 232 in overall recycling. To learn more about single-stream recycling and what can and cannot be recycled visit:


Did you know that a plastic water bottle takes over 1,000 years to biodegrade? Did you know that U.S. landfills are overflowing with 2 million tons of discarded water bottles alone? Did you know that it takes over 1.5 million barrels of oil to meet the demand of U.S. water bottle manufacturing?

You can help prevent this waste by using a reusable water bottle. A reusable water bottle can help you stay hydrated anywhere you go, but doesn’t require as many resources as a plastic water bottle. Join students across the United States in the “Take Back the Tap” movement and pledge to no longer purchase or use plastic bottles. For more information and to join the movement visit:


Try taking notes on your laptop or tablet instead of scribbling on sheet after sheet of paper. In addition to saving paper, you’ll be able to electronically reference what you learned for years to come.