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How CU Contributes to Keeping Boulder ‘Green’

When I first came to CU, I remember standing in front of three trash cans with the remains of my Subway lunch in my hands. I stared blankly at the signs that indicated what went in the trash bin versus the recycle bin versus the compost bin. After a few months, I was an expert at throwing my trash away (something I never thought I needed to be an expert in). 

Whether you’ve been recycling all your life or don’t know the first thing about sustainability, CU Boulder gives students every option to do good for the environment. There is a surplus of ways in which students can be sustainable and reduce our city’s carbon footprint. Here are just a few examples of what CU is currently doing as part of one of the greenest cities in the state.

Recycle, compost, and landfill stations.

One of the things people notice first when entering any CU campus building is that each trash can is accompanied by a recycling bin and a compost bin. Above each one is a picture informing people about which item goes in which bin. By separating our waste, less trash goes to landfills and it’s able to be repurposed.


Positive Impact Points, known across campus as PIPS, is a system CU uses for students to be rewarded for doing environmentally friendly activities around campus. By downloading the PIPS Rewards app, students can scan barcodes for doing deeds such as riding a bike, refilling water bottles, and riding the bus. These PIPs can then later be redeemed for gift cards to places such as Whole Foods or Patagonia, but they can also go towards your tuition.

Water stations.

As you walk to your classes, you might notice that there is a water bottle filling station almost anywhere you look. Water from these stations is triple-filtered and helps save tens of thousands of plastic water bottles from being used. Make sure to keep your water bottle on you when you walk to class to take advantage of these stations.

“Scrape your plate” days.

Pre-COVID, the CU Boulder dining halls would have “Scrape Your Plate” days. They would ask students to scrape their plates into a compost bin before placing them on the conveyor belt to be washed. CU would then take the bins at the end of the day and weigh them, so they could see exactly how much food was being wasted. This number was then put in the dining halls so students could see. Not only did this ensure that food was going in the compost to be repurposed, but it also made students think twice about adding extra food to their plate.


EcoReps is a program available to all students in residence halls (first and second year) with interests in sustainability and leadership. Through classes, training sessions and field trips, students are able to learn ways to be more “green” in their lives. They are then able to share this knowledge with the rest of their residence hall.

Ralphie’s Green Stampede.

Ralphie’s Green Stampede is the CU athletic program’s sustainability program. This program includes a zero-waste program, zero net water use, and zero net carbon emissions in all venues and facilities. To learn more about Raphie’s Green Stampede, check out another Her Campus article here.

When it comes to sustainability at CU, there is no shortage of ways students can get involved. From low-flow sinks and showers that reduce water waste to the community gardens, almost every aspect of the campus works to be “green”. If you’re looking to do more for the community and the environment, make sure to check out all the ways you can get involved at CU.

Lexi Riga

CU Boulder '23

Lexi is a sophomore at CU Boulder studying journalism and media production. In her free time, she enjoys cooking anything and everything, finding new local coffee shops, and spending time outdoors.
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