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What You Can Do

  • The Office of Sustainability oversees Vassar’s green initiatives, which includes efforts on reaching carbon neutrality, engaging students, and reducing the environmental impact of the College’s operations.

    Through programming, policy, and community engagement we mobilize action for a more environmentally friendly and just campus, Poughkeepsie, and world. Our immediate responsibility is to minimize the College’s environmental impact.

  • Green Living Tips In order of most preferable to least preferable: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover, Treat, Dispose

    Refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle—in that order

    First, refuse to consume things you don’t need, then reduce your consumption, then reuse your items, then recycle!

    1. Refuse to consume things you don’t need

      • Single-use plastics
      • Disposable items
      • Toxic substances
      • Give-aways/promotional items
      • Anything non-essential (everything is by default)
    2. Reduce your consumption

      While recycling is important, reducing unnecessary consumption is even more important.



      • Consider the water footprint of your food choices
      • Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving
      • Take shorter/colder showers
      • Only do laundry when you have a full load and wash with cold water


      • Use alternatives to driving whenever possible. Take the bus or bike instead.
      • If you must drive, try carpooling or rideshare or use a Zipcar
      • Advocate for your local government to provide more public transit options
    3. Reuse

      • Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB)!

      Get used items at

      • Free Market (Old Bookstore, College Center) Saturdays from 1 to 3pm. Run by the Vassar Greens
      • End-of-year SWAPR event
    4. Recycle

      Recyling - Glass: glass bottles, jars and food containers; Paper: newspaper, office paper, magazines, junk mail, cardboard boxes, dry food cartons; Cans: aluminum cans, metal cans, clean foil, steel bottle caps; Palstic: #1 to #7; Please empty and rinse all food and beverage containers

      Single stream recycling is available in all residential and many other buildings on campus. Some bins are for paper or bottles and cans only, but a single stream recycling bin will usually be in the vicinity as well. Recyclables are processed by ReCommunity in Beacon, New York.

      What can be recycled

      • All plastics except for styrofoam, plastic bags, or plastic film products such as plastic wrap. #7 PLA plastics can be composted.
      • Metal cans, aluminum foil, and metal lids
      • Glass bottles but not pyrex
      • All types of paper including corrugated cardboard, cereal boxes, and pizza boxes. Please collapse boxes.
    5. Recover, Treat, Dispose

      Vassar recovers energy from waste by converting it into steam energy

      See our waste management section for disposal of items needing special attention, such as:

      • electronics/batteries
      • light bulbs
      • text books
  • Conserve Energy
    • Energy Star Use low-energy settings on electronic devices like phones and computers
    • Unplug electronics or turn off power strips when not in use
    • Rent or buy Energy Star appliances. Vassar rents Energy Star mini-fridges and microwaves.
    • Reduce indoor lighting by placing your desk near a window
    • Avoid blocking heat/cooling sources
    • Use LED light bulbs and/or string lights
    • Keep your heat on a lower setting and wear layers to keep warm