Project Ideas

1.  Recycling Art Event: Greensense Recycled Art Competition.  This is an example of a creative off campus outreach project, which shows the value of recycling.  I particularly liked how they targeted the event to children.

2. A Green Living Experiment: It took these Oberlin College students two years to acquire funding for a sustainable house to live in as a college students.  They not only live green but engage in several projects on campus and in the community.   Thanks to The New York Times for highlighting this amazing example of what a small group of highly dedicated STUDENTS can accomplish!  Another option for students who want to live green together is to look for eco-friendly accommodations in the area and split the rent.   Green apartments are popping up around universities all around the country.

3.  Green Bike Share/Repair Service: Founded by Pitzer College students in 2001, The Green Bike Program (GBP) provides students with free loaner bikes, encouraging eco-friendly transportation around the Claremont Colleges.   This is an example of how a student-led project can become adopted by the university.

4. Green Bus Program: 15 Dartmouth College students on the Big Green Bus are driving from city to city for 10 weeks on a bus constructed with sustainable materials that runs on waste vegetable oil. Jennifer Reyna has a look inside.

5.  35 ways students are creating a sustainable future at U.S. colleges and universities - cutting carbon emissions, saving resources and equipping the coming generation for a green energy economy.Generation E:  Students Leading for a Sustainable, Clean Energy Future By Christina Erickson and David J. Eagan, with a foreword by Julian Keniry.  Thank you to the National Wildlife Federation for providing this INCREDIBLE resource for free.   For link (click here)

6. Promoting Recycling and Participating in RecycleMania: New Jersey Science & Technology University dramatically increased their recycling.  These students decided to take part in RecycleMania, which is a contest between 400 different college campuses.   If you are trying to implement a recycling program on your campus, Green Tower Sustainability has extensive experience in this area and would like to be of assistance.  Contact ian ( for any inquiries.

7.  Dorm Move Out Recycling Program / Fundraising Garage Sale: Your student organization can prevent THOUSANDS of pounds of recyclable material from ending up in the land fill.  You can do so by orchestrating a Dorm Move Out Recycling Program.   This program could generate funding for your student organization as often mirrors, computer monitors, refrigerators, are left in campus drop off points.   Many of these items contain toxic materials and should NOT end up in the land fill.   If you want help on organizing a Dorm Move Out Recycling Program, please contact ian (

8.  Dorm Move in Education and Outreach: The beginning of the school year is your opportunity to get freshmen involved in your student organization.  Often times, freshman and their parents could use help moving things in.  If your organization volunteers to help the new freshmen out, you can tell them about the many ways to be green on campus, including joining your organization.  Bring cards or book marks with your club’s info and first meeting time and location.   Also ask if they would like to be on your mailing list.   By doing so, parents will often encourage the students to join the organization.

9 Earth Day: It is VERY common for student organizations to put on Earth Day Celebrations at their campus.   The most successful events tend to incorporate education and entertainment.  So, in addition to having environmental lectures, also consider inviting the local green businesses and non-profits, have a concert or even an eco-beer garden.  By balancing the educational aspects of the event with the entertainment, it is possible to attract a greater percentage of your school’s population.   Check out the University of Washington’s green coalition’s Earth Day event, in which they incorporated electric cars.  Also see the special event checklist in our student resources center (resource # 1).

10.  Electricity Competition: This video highlights the various ways competitions can used to encourage sustainable energy use.  Thank you to the students at Duke University for sharing this resource.

11. Create a “Green Group”:  Creating a “Green Group” can be one of the most significant ways you can build your campus’s green movement.  Every campus is different and today there are many colleges that don’t have an organized green movement.  This means that sustainably minded students, faculty, staff and administrators aren’t networking together and certainly not collaborating on projects.   A “green group” or “green lunch group” is essentially a forum where green students, faculty, staff and administrators (perhaps alumni) can go every other week for lunch.  Encourage everyone to bring a lunch.

Steps to create a Green Group:

  • 1. Send an invitation to all students, faculty, staff, and administrators that you know care about the environment.  If you don’t know who these individuals are, you can look through your school’s course catalog for environmentally related subjects.  Also be sure to do some marketing for this in the administration building and elsewhere.
  • 2.  Identify a moderator, preferably a professor, staff or administrator.  Moderators make sure the conversation is running smoothly and that people are respectful to each other.
  • 3.  The first meetings: meetings should be held every other week.  Every week will prove to be too frequent.  At first, the moderator should just invite attendees to explain who they are, what organization they are from and what they are doing.  This way, the people that make up your campus’s green movement get to know eachother.  At many college campuses, groups like this have led to action.  At SDSU, the Green Lunch Group (later called the Green Group) formed SDSU’s Senate Committee for Sustainability which assures that campus policy is environmentally sound.   Green Tower Sustainability cannot stress the importance of creating an informal networking committee to bolster your school’s green movement.  For more information on how to create an effective green group, contact ian (  To download the mission statement and objectives of the Green Group at SDSU, click  The Green Lunch Group2

12.  Phone Drive:  You can do a phone drive and have the money go to charity.   There are non-profits that you can partner with to do so such as Why?  Well, universities and the surrounding communities tend to produce a lot of electronic waste.  According to Earth 911, electronic waste (aka e-waste) accounts for 70% of all toxic waste in landfills.  Did you know that cell phones contain heavy metals like cadmium and lead?   In addition to recycling raw materials and preventing some of the worst chemicals and heavy metals from potentially entering the groundwater supply, phone drives also provide money to charity.  For more info about setting up a phone drive, contact

13. Bike lane: Is biking or skateboarding impossible or even prohibited on your campus?  Is this preventing you from being able to bike to school or causing you to be ticketed?  If so, then your student group could lobby to create a bike lane.  This is a longer term project but student groups have accomplished this.   One strategy is to do bike demonstrations on campus.  This can draw a lot of attention to your cause. Contact for more info.  Our staff has successfully lobbied to create a bike lane on a major university.   See picture below:

14.  Lobby for Green Building: Often times new building projects for Universities invite student input into the building’s design.  In such cases, students have an incredible opportunity to literally influence how sustainable a building will be for fifty years or more.  There are not many impacts students can make that are that long lasting.  The key is that in such meetings that invite student input, students tend to not show up.  If your organization attends every meeting and provides solid evidence as to why green building is the best way to go, then you have a good chance to get your green building.  This is the strategy that the Enviro-Business Society took.  They attended every meeting starting in 2005 for the new “Aztec Center”.  They initially pushed for LEED with much resistance.  Over time, the students convinced their peers to go for LEED Platinum.   The picture below depicts what will be the first LEED Platinum student union building in the world.   Construction begins soon at SDSU.  For more information on lobbying for green building, please contact  Green Tower board members were instrumental to bringing this project to life.  Also see resource # 3 in our student resources center, which the US Green building Council created for students lobbying green building to administrators. We also want to congratulate the students of SDSU for voting to make this building a possibility.

15. Go To Local Green Events: Sometimes the best way to show students the green products and career paths that are out there is to go to green events.  There are many green events that take place all across the country.  Some focus on student organizations and some are more product, career or technology oriented.  Take students to such events to inspire them.   You can increase attendance by promoting such outings to professors who teach sustainability related classes.  For example, if you were to go to the Alternative Vehicle Auto Show, you might want to contact any environmental engineering professors on campus to see if they would offer extra credit for students to attend.  Often times, through Associated Students, your organization can apply for travel money for such trips.  Be sure to encourage carpooling and have fun.  The picture below shows one of the biggest green product / career expos, Green Fest.  This has been a pilgrimage for many green student orgs.  Green Fest is held in San Francisco twice a year, Chicago, Seattle, and Washington DC.  For more info, click here.

16.  Create a Farmers’ Market: Farmers’ Markets are a great way to get local food options on campus.   Be sure to partner with your campus’s food services department.   A great conversation starter to get a permanent farmers’ market is to have a farmers’ market for one day on earth day.   You can invite local vendors to come.  Be sure to start planning for this early as Universities WILL MAKE FOOD RELATED EVENTS VERY DIFFICULT TO PULL OFF.   There are lots of potential liabilities when dealing with food and all vendors must be insured (often over 2 million dollars of coverage per vendor).   When you do pull it off, be sure to invite the campus’s food services company representatives to see how successful it is.  Green Tower Sustainability has lots of experience in this area and we would love to help you get your farmers’ market started.  Email to learn more.

18. Eco-Fashion Show: Eco-fashion shows are one of the most common events for student organizations to put on.  Eco-fashion shows enable people to be creative and design sustainably.  There is often a pitfall of using unsustainable materials in eco-fashion shows i.e. baloons, styrofoam and arguably organic cotton.  Green Tower Sustainability would like to promote reused cotton over organic cotton.  While organic cotton uses no pesticides or fertilizer, it takes up to four times the water to produce.  Cotton is simply not sustainable unless you are reusing it.    That being said, eco-fashion shows often do bring a lot of interest.  Eco-fashion shows are great earth day events because they balance out education

19.  Green Product Fair:

20.  Green Finger Project: This is a great idea from Middlebury College students.

21.  Get a Car Share Program Started:

22.  Carrot Mob in Your Community: Carrotmob is a type of consumer activism in which businesses compete at how socially responsible they can be, and then a network of consumers spends money to support whichever business makes the strongest offer. We harness consumer power to make it possible for the most socially-responsible business practices to also be the most profitable choices. It’s the opposite of a boycott.  It’s easier to understand if you look at an example.  Watch the video and be inspired to start your own carrot mob with all of your fellow students in your community.

Carrotmob Makes It Rain from carrotmob on Vimeo.

23.  Green Mustache Project: This is a great example of grassroots marketing.  Curiosity campaigns are a great way to create buzz on your campus and raise awareness of environmental issues.

How do you create a sustainable campus? from Megan Nuttall on Vimeo.

24.  Sustainable Lobbying: Join Focus the Nation to lobby your representatives in government.

25. Dorm Recycling Teams: Students at Santa Clara University join the Grass Roots Environmental Efforts Now (GREEN) Club, as they do a “trash audit” of SCU residence halls’ trash.
By Kristen Hickey, Josh Early, and Robert Fitzgerald for Michael Whalen’s COMM 132 documentary course.  And if you “dig” this video, check out the following video which depicts University of Georgia students doing waste audits department by department.  Note to anyone wishing to conduct a waste audit, please be careful and be sure to wear close toed shoes, pants, gloves and protective eye covering.  Be sure to coordinate your activities with the physical plant and any other campus bodies that would require approval for such a project.  Disclaimers aside, waste audits enable you to gather raw data on your campus’s waste stream.  Green Tower can help you organize your waste audit.  Contact us at: for more details.

26. Green Cafeteria Project: Students for Sustainable Communities is a Santa Rosa Junior College club dedicated to educating and motivating the SRJC college community to adopt sustainable lifestyle practices. In this video the student club’s Jessica Jones describes its new cafeteria project.   This is a great model for creating action on the community college level, where turn over is very quick but it would work great on any campus.  It would appear that the act of helping people properly sort their trash from recyclables creates a nice buzz and interest in the organization, resulting in rapid membership growth.  Congratulations to the students involved in this ambitious and successful project.

  • #1 written by Ian B
    about 3 years ago

    For any of these project ideas, if you would like Green Tower to help, we gladly will! Many of our GTS Mentors have experience in this area and are excited to work with you asap.

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