What You Can Do


  • Take shorter showers to conserve water.
  • Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth.
  • Plan your laundry loads ahead of time and fill the washing machine. The same amount of electricity and water are used whether or not the machine is full.
    STUDENTS: Doing a full load will make the most of the laundry card fee.
  • The same logic applies to dishwashers - fill up your dishwasher to capacity before running a load.
  • Use less water when washing dishes by hand.
  • Use the water fountains instead of buying bottled water.
  • Fix leaking faucets - every drop counts!


  • One of the most important things you can do is to sort your waste into what can be recycled and what is trash. Make the effort and seek out where you can properly dispose of separated waste. The impact your effort can make is huge, and can drastically reduce the amount of waste going into our landfills. Barnard has set up two recycling centers on campus.
  • Take a reusable bag with you when you go shopping, whether it is the mall, supermarket, or green market. Plastic bags are nonbiodegradable, petroleum products that can sit in landfills for up to 1,000 years. They also clog municipal drains and pollute bodies of water, from rivers to oceans. Reducing or recycling plastic bags lessens landfill waste and requires less bags to be manufactured, which in turn lowers greenhouse gas emissions.
  • If you cannot avoid using plastic bags, reuse them, and then when they have outlived their usefulness, recycle them.
  • store food in resuable containers (like glass or ceramic) instead of plastic wrap, bags, or disposable containers.
  • When having a party, use reusable dishware instead of paper or plastic.
  • Fill up a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water.
  • Use both sides of every sheet of paper. Print both sides of a sheet of paper.
    STUDENTS: Donate pages with only one printed side to the scrap-paper box in Lehman Computing Center or reuse the sheets yourself. Discard all paper trash in the blue recycle bins around campus.
  • Read articles electronically instead of printing them out.


  • Turn off the lights when leaving an empty room.
  • Not using your appliances or electronics for an extended period of time? Turn them off; either unplug them or switch off the surge protector to disconnect several circuits at once. Appliances left plugged in run on standby power even when switched off, and this vampire power, though relatively small for a single appliance, when added up across an entire household, or residence hall, is considerable, and a huge waste of energy resources.
  • Set your computer to turn off its screen after 10 minutes of inactivity. Set to sleep mode after 30 minutes. If the computer will not be used for an extended period of time, shut it down. If you're not sure how, Resnet has instructions on setting sleep modes
  • Open curtains or pull up blinds or shades and let the sunshine in during the day. Use natural light whenever possible.
  • Use a fan to keep cool instead of cranking up the air conditioner. Dress in layers if it is chilly. If your room is too hot in the winter, ask Facilities to check it instead of opening the window and letting the heat escape.
  • Hang clothes to dry instead of using the dryers. Save money, electricity and extend the life of your favorite outfits – the heat of the dryer damages fabrics and lightens colors over time.
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Elevators use a lot of energy, especially when they are full. Choosing to walk up the stairs when you can adds up to big energy savings (and stronger leg muscles) over the course of a year.
  • When the weather is nice, walk or ride a bike instead of taking the car. Use public transportation whenever possible.
  • Use compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) instead of incandescent bulbs in lamps. They last longer and cost much less over their lifetimes in both energy and dollars. When your CFL burns out, bring it to the nearest recycling center. As they contain mercury, they need to be disposed of properly so as not to contaminate landfills.