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Sustainability and Earth Week (April 22-26)

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In honor of Earth Week (April 22-26), we decided to focus this post on sustainability and share some simple ways that you can make a difference on campus and at home.  RIT has made a big commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, but what does that really mean to each of us?

Did you know that 75% of electricity consumed by electronics occurs when they are off but plugged in? Have you ever thought about the energy your computer, monitor and/or printer use when they are on but sitting idle for a while? How many people do you know that leave a room and do not turn the lights off behind them? A sizable amount of electricity used (and often times wasted) on campus and at home is a result of small, seemingly insignificant, choices that each of us make every day.  On a campus of more than 20,000 people, those choices add up quickly.    

Some of the easiest and most obvious things that each of us can do to help conserve energy, save money and reduce our carbon footprint are:

  • Enable power management settings and turn off our computers, monitors and printers when  leaving at night
  • Turn off all the lights in your area when you leave and shut off the lights in empty rooms
  • Unplug any chargers in the wall or plug them into a power strip and shut the strip off
  • Turn off projectors in class and conference rooms

You can learn more about energy conservation opportunities in your home at

Did you know that waste generation also contributes to our carbon footprint? Most people don’t think about what happens to something once they throw it away, but that material has to go somewhere and all too often that destination is a landfill.  By reducing the amount of materials we send to the landfill we can also cut carbon emissions.  The easiest way to do this is through recycling.  Yet through waste audits overseen by our Recycling Department, we have found that nearly 70% by volume of the materials in the trash could have been recycled, but were instead going to the landfill. In other words, if people make a conscious effort to put recyclables in the correct bin, we could significantly reduce the waste generated at RIT. We could also save money since it is more expensive to send materials to the landfill than it is to recycle them.

Single stream recycling, which we have at RIT, means that you can put all of your containers (such as metal, plastic and glass) as well as paper and cardboard all in the same bin.  From there it goes to a MRF (Materials Recovery Facility) where it is separated out.  Once placed on a conveyor belt, magnets pull off the metals, plastics are separated out by numbers using an optical eye sensor, and paper and fibers are separated out by gravity.  If a bag of materials comes through that is largely contaminated with food waste, liquid or materials like wrappers and Styrofoam, it is sent directly to the landfill, not separated and recycled.  So please scrape out food residues and empty containers before putting them in the recycling bins.  

Looking to the future, in addition to carbon neutrality, RIT is striving to reach zero waste (90% or more of materials diverted from landfill) by 2020.  How can we achieve this?  One step will be to implement compost collection.  We held our first zero waste event last week for the opening of Sustainability Institute Hall and will be attempting a bigger pilot at this year’s Imagine RIT festival. 


Earth Week Events this week

Bike Tune-ups | 10AM-6PM

Ever thought about being a bike commuter? Get your bike ready and stop by the RIT Mobile Bike Shop at Gleason Circle transit plaza for a $10 Tune-up. That's 50% off in honor of Earth Week. Discount available for the first 25 customers with valid student ID. Sponsored by RIT Sustainability and Student Wellness.

Sustainability Institute Hall Tours | 10-11AM • 12-1PM • 2-3PM

Guided, hour-long tours of the new sustainability building will be offered at 10am, 12pm and 2pm. Tours will start by the green wall on the first floor of the building. Interpreting services have been requested for the 12pm tour.


Gleason Circle | 10AM-6PM

Stop by the RIT Mobile Bike Shop at Gleason Circle transit plaza for a $10 Tune-up. That's 50% off in honor of Earth Week. Discount available for the first 25 customers with valid student ID. Sponsored by RIT Sustainability and Student Wellness.


Community Garden | 12PM-2PM

Is there any better way to celebrate Earth Week than by getting your hands in the soil? Join Dawn Carter in the community garden and help prepare the site for planting.


Thursday @ MCC | Friday @ RIT

Rochester Regional Sierra Clubʼs 15th Annual Environmental Forum, sponsored by Sierra Club, FLOW, MCC, and RIT.  The forum, featuring keynote Speaker Maude Barlow, begins at 5:15 on Thursday at MCC. Accompanying workshops will be held at RIT on Friday. To find out more check out: