Columbia University is taking action to reduce our carbon footprint. If we lead by example, we will improve the sense of responsibility felt by our community for their actions through both education and demonstration. Ranging from energy conservation efforts, to award-winning reuse programs and recycling efforts, Columbia is fully dedicated toward creating a greener, more sustainable planet for all.  

At Columbia, we recognize that to be truly sustainable is to take a multi-faceted and multi-tiered approach. We are looking to tackle these issues through world-renowned research occurring right here on our campus, engaging staff leadership and individual participation.

Welcome to Sustainable Columbia!

Every member of the Columbia community has a role to play in achieving our sustainability goals. Now, all new hire orientations will include a three-minute video introduction to Sustainable Columbia, giving context to the broader culture of sustainability on campus along with eco-friendly actions individuals can take in their new role. New hires and veterans alike — take a look!

Make a Difference Today

Every member of the Columbia community has a role to play in achieving our sustainability goals. Learn how you can make a difference and help build a healthier, more sustainable Columbia.

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Reduce, reuse, and recycle

Learn what you can recycle at Columbia. Donate and swap unwanted items during Clean + Go Green and Give + Go Green events. Use the surplus re-use program to donate or re-use office furniture and equipment. Taste, don't waste — practice mindfulness when selecting food in the dining halls and other eating establishments around campus. Wasting food wastes the energy and water used in producing and transporting it.

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Walk, bike, or use alternative transportation

Try out Citi Bike, available on or near Columbia's campuses. Bike to work and store your ride in Columbia's secure bicycle parking and racks. Ride the Intercampus Shuttle, which is tracked in real time, or the Evening Shuttle, to get around campus after 6 p.m. (Other commuter shuttles and sustainable transportation options are available).

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Volunteer to lead sustainable change

Join a sustainability-focused student club. Stay tuned for updates on the newly formed Sustainable Leaders Network. Take advantage of existing programs in your living space or lab.

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Report drips and window leaks

Submit a maintenance request to make your space more comfortable and efficient.

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Reduce energy and electricity use

Turn off lights, power down, and unplug electronics when not in use, especially during nights and breaks.

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Use a reusable mug or bottle

Get discounts on coffee and use filtered water stations across campus to refill your bottle.

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Learn it

Browse the Earth Institute’s Course Guide and events calendar to learn about environmental studies from some of the world’s best.

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Wash clothes in cold

Washing in cold or "bright colors" uses 90% less energy than washing in hot and it preserves the life of your clothes.

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Take shorter showers

By reducing your shower time you can help save water and the energy used to heat the water.

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Adopt healthy, sustainable lifestyle habits

Take the Green Monday pledge to learn how to make slight shifts in your lifestyle, starting with what you eat, which can help to reduce your environmental impact. 

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Brand it

Are you putting together a sustainability event or initiative on campus? Brand your posters, powerpoints and flyers with the new Sustainable Columbia logo to join the movement. Contact Environmental Stewardship to learn about the new branding guidelines.

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Download the Sustainability Plan

Learn more about Columbia's campus-wide plan to become a more sustainable community.


March 09, 2020

Columbia EcoReps Host 3rd Annual Youth Climate Summit for High School Students

Almost 200 high school students filed into Lerner Hall on Friday, March 6 to participate in the third annual Columbia Youth Climate Summit hosted by the EcoReps in partnership with Consilience, the Journal of Sustainable Development. At the all-day event, the students attended workshops and lectures by leading climate experts, and even crafted their own action plans to bring back to their school or community.


We Recycle Columbia-owned Office Furniture

The ReUse Program is a network for exchanging University-owned office furniture and other items among colleagues. The program is a collaboration between the Office of Environmental Stewardship, department administrators across campus, Columbia Community Service, and Facilities & Operations.

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Office & Classroom Furniture

Chairs, desks, file cabinets, book shelves, and more.

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Computer Equipment and Appliances
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Books and Office Supplies

Paper, staples, pens, tape, paper clips, file folders, binders (even if open), and more.

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Lab Supplies & Equipment
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Audio-Visual Equipment and Lighting Fixtures
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Items of Architectural Interest

What to throw, and where?

Understanding proper waste segregation is crucial to a successful recycling program at Columbia.

The more Columbia recycles, the more we save money and contribute to a sustainable environment. Environmental Stewardship works with campus partners such as Environmental Health and Safety and Columbia Facilities to improve the University's recycling efforts. In recent years, the community recycled hundreds of tons of mixed paper and cardboard, 155 tons of electronics, 45 tons of lamps, 20 tons of batteries, tens of tons of glass, metal, and plastic, and much more. Check our Programs and Initiatives database for more about Columbia's waste and recycling initiatives.

Recycling 101 Video
Recycling 101 Video

Know where to throw; learn the basics of recycling within the Columbia Housing community.

How to Recycle Pizza Boxes
How to Recycle Pizza Boxes

If it's wet, sticky, or otherwise icky, keep it out of recycling containers, otherwise the entire load risks being downgraded to trash.

How to Recycle Your Coffee Cups
How to Recycle Your Coffee Cups

Do you know the proper way to recycle this common item?

How to Recycle Sushi Containers
How to Recycle Sushi Containers

Throw your plastic sushi container in the blue bin. Wooden chopsticks go in the trash.