Pledge Actions

Though the University of Maryland has countless sustainability initiatives and goals, it’s important to remind ourselves of the impact of a single, personal action.  Sometimes it can feel like changing your own behaviors won’t make a difference, or that one person’s actions are too small to be meaningful.  There is a perception that to make a significant change requires taking on an enormous task too big for one person.  The goal of the Small Footprint Pledge is to encourage UMD students, faculty, and staff to commit to at least one sustainable action and to demonstrate the combined effects of all of our efforts.  Scaling down environmental change to a handful of finite actions and behavior changes makes sustainability a more manageable goal.  Tracking participants’ pledges allows us to see that when added together, all our smaller, individual actions do make a difference.

Encourage your friends, roommates, classmates, and colleagues to join in and take the Small Footprint Pledge with you!

Here are some hints and tips to help you follow through with your Small Footprint Pledge:

Action 1. I will compost when eating in the Dining Hall and in Stamp, and bring other food waste to these places to be composted.

Total Annual Savings: 240 lbs waste/year

  • Compost is decayed or decaying organic matter that can be used as plant fertilizer.
  • Compostable materials are the items that can be used to make compost (such as leaves, food waste, and paper waste). An easy way to figure out what materials are compostable is to remember that anything that was once alive can be composted. Think trees, vegetables, cows, fish, wheat.
  • At UMD, you can compost used napkins or paper towels, some disposable dishware, and all food scraps (including meat and dairy).
  • Stamp and the Dining Halls have tri-sort bins, with spaces for recycling, compost, and landfill.
  • If you're not sure where a specific item goes, check the signs on the bins or visit the Waste page for more details.

Action 2: I will use cloth or other reusable bags when I go shopping.

Total Annual Savings: 4 lbs waste/year

  • Reusable bags are available for purchase at most large grocery stores (sometimes for as little as $1!) and in the campus shops at UMD.
  • You can easily turn an old t-shirt into a reusable bag, no sewing necessary! All you need is a shirt, scissors, and a safety pin. You don't even need a special grocery bag - just use your backpack!
  • If you shop in Montgomery County or in Washington, DC, there is a five cent plastic bag tax. So your reusable bags will not just be good for the environment, they will help you save money!
  • You can get a free reusable bag on Maryland Day or win one each week at the Farmers Market.

Action 3: I will recycle paper products, cans, and bottles.

Total Annual Savings: 1000 lbs CO2/year

  • UMD has single stream recycling. This means that all recyclable products - cardboard (but pizza boxes go in the compost - see Action 1), newspaper, copy paper, cans, glass or plastic bottles - can all go into the same bin.
  • Due to the efforts of the campus community, UMD achieved a 75% recycling rate in 2012! This means 75% of the campus' waste is diverted from the landfill.

Action 4: I will carry a reusable water bottle.

Total Annual Savings: 5 lbs waste/year

  • There are dozens of locations on campus where you can fill up your bottle with free, filtered water. Check out this map and list of locations to see which filling station is close to you.
  • If you bring your reusable bottle (or mug) to a Dining Hall or campus shop, you can save 20 cents on your fountain drink or coffee purchase.

Action 5: I will replace one regular bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb.

Total Annual Savings: 40 lbs CO2/year

  • 70% of light bulbs used in the United States are energy inefficient.
  • Energy Star certified compact fluorescent light bulbs use less energy than incandescent bulbs, and can last up to 10 times longer. You'll not only save on your energy costs with a more efficient bulb (the Department of Energy estimates an annual savings of $6/year per bulb), but you'll also spend less money replacing light bulbs over time.
  • IKEA sells inexpensive CFL bulbs that have been certified by Energy Star.
  • Inefficient incandescent bulbs are being phased out, as instructed by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Action 6: I will wash clothes in cold water.

Total Annual Savings: 32 lbs CO2/year

  • Your washing machine should have adjustable settings for water temperature. Most of the energy spent by a washing machine is used to heat water, so turn it down to cold to save energy.
  • Washing in cold water can actually help your clothes' fabric last longer and keep colors from fading.
  • Research shows that clothes washed in cold water get just as clean as clothes washed in hot or warm water.

Action 7: I will eat vegetarian for one day a week.

Total Annual Savings: 488 lbs CO2/year

  • The Sprouts station in the North Campus Diner features a daily vegan lunch and dinner special. You can see the Sprouts daily meal options here.
  • Try cooking meals that don't normal have meat in them. You can try out a totally new dish and might find that if it didn't have meat in it to begin with, you don't even miss it.
  • Search online for specific recipes or for vegetarian/vegan cooking blogs. There are thousands of ideas and recipes to choose from! Here are a few to start you off: Food Network, Vegetarian Times,Oh My Veggies, and Simply Recipes.

Action 8: I will reduce vampire power by unplugging my printer, computer charger, and phone charger when not in use - or by using a power strip.

Total Annual Savings: 242 lbs CO2/year

  • Vampire power (also called standby power) is the energy that electronics and appliances continue to consume 24 hours a day, even after they have been turned off.
  • Make an effort to unplug computer and phone chargers from outlets when they aren't in use, and unplug infrequently used devices (such as DVD players, video game consoles, or stereos) when they are turned off.
  • The Department of Energy estimates that power vampires are responsible for around 10% of your electricity use.
  • You can buy a Smart Strip power strip from the Office of Sustainability for $18. Email atoews@umd.edu if you are interested!

Action 9: I will reduce my showering time by five minutes.

Total Annual Savings: 6,387.5 gallons H2O/year

  • Time yourself by setting your phone timer before you jump in. Next time you shower, take five minutes off your start time.
  • If you live in a Residence Hall with a shower timer, see if you can beat the timer and shorten your shower time.
  • Try turning off the water while you shampoo your hair, and turning it back on to rinse.

Action 10: I will turn off the tap while brushing my teeth.

Total Annual Savings: 2,920 gallons H2O/year

  • Only turn on the tap to rinse.
  • 75% of home water usage comes from the bathroom!

Action 11: I will check my faucets, showerheads, and toilets for leaks and call 4-WORK or my landlord when repairs are needed.

Total Annual Savings: 76,500 lbs H2O/year

  • If you live in a dorm, you can call 301-314-WORK to report any leaky faucets or running toilets.
  • If you live elsewhere, contact building maintenance, your landlord, or a plumber.
  • Don't wait for a leak to get worse. Call as soon as you notice something that needs repair!

Action 12: I will walk or bike short distances instead of driving.

Total Annual Savings: 455 lbs CO2/year

  • DOTS has many resources for campus biking, including bike registration, new bike repair stations around campus, the Campus Bike Shop in the Cole Field House basement, and more! See the BikeUMD webpage for more details.
  • Check out TerpNav to find the best walking routes around campus.
  • For short distances, walking or cycling can actually be faster than driving.