Reduce Your Waste Impact

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Rethink. Respect. Recycle symbol

These "R5 Operations" reflect Cornell’s continued efforts to shrink and eliminate waste impacts. Here you will find tools to equip you to reduce your own waste levels, and join us in creating a brighter and greener community.

The first step to wipe out waste? Calculate your current resource use at the Global Footprint Network, Conservation International, and Ecological Footprint. Then, delve into the tips below to maximize efficient resource use. 

Reduce Your Waste Tips

Your room:

  1. Change the lights. Ensure all personal light bulbs are LED or CFL.

  2. Too hot? Cold? Put in a work request. Google "Cornell maintenance request" to get help with a hot, cold, drafty or leaky room or bathroom appliances.

  3. Use the blinds. Close blinds on a hot day to keep your room cool, and open blinds on a cold day to let in thermal heat. You'll be surprised at how effective this is!

  4. Seal windows. Make sure all windows and doors seal tightly.

  5. Be a better fridge owner. Share a fridge with your roommate or use the common fridge. Keep the temp at 35F and 0F in the freezer. Perfect for ice-cold drinks.

  6. Use smart power strips. Plug electronics into a smart strip, which will turn off appliances that don't need to be on 24/7, like TVs or game consoles. Look for "smart strip" label.

Your tech:

  1. Set a timer for 15 min every day to get your "NATURE RX." Go outside, meditate or simply sit, and enjoy the wellness effects of spending time in nature.

  2. Set an alarm for "MUG & SPORK" 1 minute before you usually leave for class, so you grab your reusables every day. You're already accepted into an Ivy, so we know we don't have to teach you the huge impact reusable utensils have for a better, cleaner planet. 

  3. Set up a group chat/ text with people in your hall for quick ride-sharing or use Cornell Zimride.

  4. Energy saving mode. Enable power-saving features on your computer and save up to $75 in electricity per year. Have the screen turn off after 3 minutes and shut the computer off at night.

  5. Ditch screen savers. Screen savers are fake news. They do NOT save energy. Sad.

Your habits:

  1. Get an app like Way of Life or HabitBull to motivate new habits like shutting down your computer or bringing your reusable water bottle.

  2. Flip the switch. Turn off the lights in your room, common areas, around campus, everywhere. Every time you leave a room, make it a habit. Bathrooms too! Call out "Lights off?" If you are not sure you're the last one out.

  3. Cold laundry, full loads. Washing cold reduces energy use by 90% and makes clothes last longer. Wash only full loads. Dry clothes in 30-minute cycles or air dry on a rack to reduce unnecessary wear and tear, and don't forget to clean the lint trap.

  4. Eat local food. Enjoy shopping at the Farmer's market, Anabel's Grocery, Greenstar, or enroll in a CSA. Better yet – grow your own food at Dilmun Hill.

  5. Take the bus or walk!