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EcoPledge Program

Commit. Certify. Earn Prizes.

Take the EcoPledge

Maybe you are a person who always carries a reusable water bottle around campus. Maybe you are someone who attends climate marches and talks to friends about climate change. Or, maybe you want to make a difference for our environment but aren't sure where to start. If you identify with any of these descriptions, the EcoPledge Program is for YOU!

Commit to making sustainable choices on campus and in your life and earn sustainable prizes. To get started, commit to taking at least 10 actions from the list below and complete this online form to become certified. It's that easy.

Climate change is a global problem that will require action and solutions from every level of government, our institutions, the private sector, and from individuals like you. By taking the EcoPledge, you are helping to make our campus a greener, healthier, and more sustainable place for everyone.

Reduce Waste

Reduce food waste and methane emissions by composting at home or on campus. Refer to AU’s Zero Waste guidelines for a list of items that can be composted on campus, including all food waste, napkins, and pizza boxes.

AU provides mixed recycling bins across campus. Paper, plastic, metal, and glass can all be placed into these bins. Items should be empty and clean (mostly free of residue). Refer to AU’s Zero Waste guidelines for a list of items that can be recycled on campus.

If you live off campus, check out Zero Waste DC, Arlington’s recycling guidelines, or Montgomery County recycling. Recycling rules differ by community, so remember to look up your hometown’s guidelines as well.

Confidently say “no” to single-use items by consistently using alternative, reusable options. A few examples: Bring a reusable water bottle and reusable utensils when you eat out. Go plastic free by taking the Plastic Free July challenge. Purchase a reusable coffee mug through the Dav Mug Club and receive discounts at the Davenport Coffee Lounge.

Reducing the amount of waste that we generate in the first place is always best. The next best option is to reuse, repurpose, upcycle, or donate items that we already own when we no longer have a use for them. AU offers several donation bins on campus specifically for clothing and textile waste (you can find one in Lett-Anderson Quad!). During spring move out, students can donate gently used clothing and dorm furnishings to AU's Zero Waste Club as part of their annual Project Move Out initiative.

Consume Mindfully

Reducing your meat consumption, even for one day a week, can have a positive impact on our planet. AU offers vegetarian and vegan options in dining locations across campus. Cooking at home? Try out these easy vegetarian recipes.

If you need to purchase an item, it's ideal to look for one that has been pre-owned. Buying secondhand items keeps them out of the landfill and can help reduce the production of new items in the long-term. It can also reduce carbon emissions; extending the average life of clothes by just three months per item would lead to a 5–10% reduction the item's carbon, water and waste footprints. Here are several lists of vintage and secondhand stores in DC.

According to the EPA, food and food packaging materials make up almost half of all municipal solid waste in the United States (yikes!). If that wasn't bad enough, single-use bags, plastic bottles, food containers and food wrappers are the four most widespread items polluting our oceans. When possible, choose to eat in at The Dining Room on campus or purchase food with recyclable or reuseable packaging.

Carry a reusable bag to the store so that you can refuse plastic bags at checkout. 100 billion plastic bags are thrown away in the US each year and only 1-3% get recycled.

Conserve Energy

American University has instituted a temperature policy on campus to maximize energy conservation and efficiency. Residence halls and all other occupied buildings are maintained in the temperature range of 68° to 78° Fahrenheit year round. During the winter, buildings are maintained at 70°F (+/- 2°) and 76°F (+/- 2°) during the summer.  

You should not attempt to change the thermostats in your residence halls; they have been preset by Facilities Management and cannot be changed individually. If you live off campus, maintain moderate temperatures throughout the year to maximize savings.

Always unplug appliances and electronics that are not in use. Even when they are not being used, these "energy vampires” still suck energy from the outlet.

Using natural light instead of artificial light not only reduces energy consumption and lowers your electricity bill but also has many health and wellness benefits. Using natural light helps you sleep, boosts your mood, and enhances productivity.

Washing your clothes in cold water saves energy and can extend the life of your clothes. Bonus: Save even more energy by hanging your clothes to dry.

Save Water

Fresh water is a precious and limited resource, and our global supply is decreasing. If you reduce your showering time by 5 minutes for an entire year, you could save more than 4,500 gallons of water annually.

2Fix stands for "To Fix and Repair", and refers to the Facilities Customer Response Center at American University. If you notice a leak anywhere on campus, such as a dripping faucet or a malfunctioning toilet, report the problem to the 2Fix team immediately. 

It’s super simple and effective: Turn the faucet off while you brush your teeth. Running the water while brushing your teeth is the equivalent of pouring ~9 gallons down the drain each day.

The average residential washing machine uses about 41 gallons of water per load. Save water and energy by washing only full loads of laundry.

Commute Smarter

Walking, riding a bike or scooter, and riding the AU Shuttle are easy ways to reduce your personal carbon footprint. 

AU’s U-Pass program provides full-time students with unlimited Metro and Metrobus rides.

Biking is a convenient, healthy, budget-friendly, and low-carbon way to travel around campus and to explore the region. If you have your own bike, register it with AU Transportation to help AUPD locate it if ever lost or stolen. If you don't have your own bike, take advantage of a discounted membership to Capital Bikeshare, which operates several docking stations on campus.

Build Community

Discussing climate change and environmental problems with others helps build wide-spread awareness and support for issues you care about. Talking about these issues with friends and family might be the most important thing you can do to fight climate change.

American University hosts a variety of environmental clubs, ranging from the Zero Waste Club to the Beekeeping Society. The Office of Sustainability also offers the EcoRep Program for undergraduate students. 

Sign-up to receive AU's sustainability newsletter and be in the know about environmental initiatives and opportunities on campus and beyond. Then follow @thegreenau on Instagram, @greenau on Twitter, and American University Sustainability on Facebook.

Commit & Certify

Commit to taking at least 10 sustainable actions, become certified, and earn prizes.

Take the EcoPledge

EcoRep Outreach Event

Volunteer with the EcoRep Program

Get involved with the Office of Sustainability and encourage your peers to participate in the EcoPledge Program.

Learn More