University Sustainability

Defining Sustainability since 1899


The Appalachian community is living our commitment to sustainability and you are an integral part of this commitment and this community.

The daily choices you make matter. From personal wellness to citizenship, water savings to energy usage, your choices help build a green community — 20,000 strong. Appalachian State University has a major impact on our environment, our local economy, and the health of our community.

The sustainable lifestyle depicted here is not a suggestion, it represents who we are as Mountaineers. Together we can make a difference.

Download this information as a PDF here.

Social Justice and Black Lives Matter

The Office of Sustainability believes deeply that sustainability work encompasses environmental and social justice, and we remain firmly rooted with communities of color who have long been systematically marginalized. We fight for the protection of both the people and the planet.

For years, black, brown and indigenous communities have been advocates for environmental justice because they are forced to be - due to racist policies, theirs are the communities chosen for toxic waste dumps and pipelines, with often sub-par safety regulations. Theirs are the communities that will be the most affected by climate disruption. Climate and racial justice are one and the same. Until we acknowledge these injustices, act upon them, and change our behaviors, we will have neither.

Be Good in Your Neighborhood

Stand in solidarity with communities of color who have experienced years of systematic marginalization and racism.

Denounce racism in all its forms and commit to fighting for change.

It’s Up to You
Appalachian Cares is an source for information on matters of student health and safety. Find resources for help when you are concerned about a friend or are yourself feeling uncomfortable for any reason. Text “appcares” to 50555 to easily bookmark these resources on your mobile device: crime report, health services, safe ride, counseling center, recovery services, OASIS, sexual assault hotline, and suicide prevention.

Be in the Know
Stay informed about things that matter to you. Whether local or global, the next 5K or the next election, find a good source for reliable news and use it.

Always respect your neighbors and the people who live around you. Pay attention to noise ordinances and recognize others may have different lifestyles than you. Be mindful of other people’s property, especially when parking, driving, biking or walking your dog. 

Share Your Talent
Volunteering is a way to get connected with your community. Appalachian has a diverse range of volunteer opportunities across campus and off. Participate!

Be Energy Savvy

Unplug It
Did you know most plugged-in devices draw electricity even when turned off? Use a power strip and unplug when not in use. 

Charge Wisely
Most electronics take only minutes or a few hours to charge, not all night. Charge devices only when they need a boost.

Use Your Windows
Open or close windows to adjust temperature or regulate air flow. Close curtains to warm a room and open them for light. 

Let it Sleep
Screen savers don’t save energy, so program your computers to sleep. Just that little step can save up to 70 percent of the energy used. Let it sleep, or turn it off.

Choose Efficiency
Quality counts. Buy and use products that are most efficient. For example, try using LED bulbs or Energy Star®-rated items. They may seem pricey but in the long run, you’ll save energy and money.

The fridge is a huge energy guzzler. Place it in a cool spot; don’t set temps too cold, clean the coils monthly (especially if you have pets) and, hey, close that door!

Temper, Temper
Set thermostats to 68º in the winter and 72º in the summer. Just a few degrees saves a load of energy. Pull on an extra sweater or strip to a tank. You’re easier to adjust than the heat.

Water Conservation

Use a Water Bottle
Start using your water bottle everywhere; it will save you money and keep plastic bottles out of the landfill. Filtered water filling stations are available across campus.

Turn It Off
When you are washing dishes, your hands or brushing your teeth, turn off the water between rinses. 

Fix the Leak
Don’t be a drip. Fix leaks immediately. Twenty drips a minute wastes a gallon of water a day.

Save Water in the Shower
Set a five minute timer or listen to two of your favorite songs. You’ll have plenty of time to get squeaky clean. Go a step farther and brush your teeth while you’re in there.

Wash Full Loads
Be sure your dish- or clothes washer is full before you run it. Use cold water instead of hot. Consider sharing a load of laundry with a friend.

Keep Streams Clean
Even the smallest pond or stream supports a local ecosystem. Keep pets on leashes, watch your use of pesticides, soaps and chemicals. And remember, litter here can end up in our oceans. Want to help? Adopt a Stream!

Don’t Flush Meds
Flushing medications contaminates the water supply. Learn about App’s campus Operation Medicine Cabinet and how they can help safely dispose of medicine.

Food Choices

Read the Ingredients
Labels on food can be misleading. Read the ingredients listed on packaged foods and familiarize yourself with your dietary needs and restrictions. 

Eat Local & Seasonal
Seek out fresh produce and products grown in the region. You’ll be enjoying a healthier diet and supporting your community growers.

Eating produce in season increases the chance your food was grown locally. In the summer, eat veggies and summer fruits; roots, hearty greens, and apples in the fall. Even locally sourced milk and eggs are more abundant certain times of the year.

Fair Trade
Where your food comes from matters. Know who you support with your purchases - use your food dollar for good!

Learn to Cook
With just basic kitchen knowledge, sustainable food choices are easier to make. Cooking your favorite foods using local ingredients can make a real difference in how well you eat and how much you spend.

Consume Less Meat
Studies suggest that diets higher in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer and heart disease. By limiting meat consumption, you can also decrease the grain, energy and water used for production.

Be Well

Get a checkup
Preventative care is a healthy habit. Visit the on-campus health center or your local physician for regular checkups to make sure your body stays healthy.

University Recreation
UREC is a great way to get involved and get moving. It offers active choices from climbing walls to adventure trips to group fitness options. Grab a buddy and go to the Rec Center.

Quit Smoking
Yes, it’s bad for you. Respect yourself, others, and the environment. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW - it’s a free, phone-based service with educational materials, coaches, a quit plan, and referrals to local resources to help you quit tobacco use.

Take Care of You
Listen to your body and mind. You must have water, nourishment and sleep, but make “me” time, too. Relax, reflect and be mindful of your life choices.

Mental Health
A healthy outlook is critical to your overall well-being. Appalachian’s mental health ambassadors work to remove the stigma associated with mental health and to make mental health issues part of campus discussion. Apply to be an ambassador or learn more at

Drink More Water
Drinking water is a healthy habit. Keep your water bottle filled so you can feel refreshed and hydrated all day. There are water bottle refilling stations located all over campus!

Be Responsible
Be aware of your actions and your limits. Friends look after friends. Your actions impact others. Be smart, be safe, and check out the Appalachian Cares page for resources and information.

Waste Not

Don’t Dispose
Buy quality items that last! A cheap pair of shoes or small appliance is not cheaper if you have to replace it every year.

Recycle / Compost
Think before you trash it. Eighty-eight percent of our university’s current waste stream can be composted or recycled. Bins are located everywhere. Learn what can be recycled and composted. 

Don’t Litter
Our campus is our home. Stop litter when you see it and be sure to always use the proper bin.

Bring Your Bags
A reuseable, stowable bag will eliminate plastic wherever you go - the cafeteria, grocery, bookstore. Keep one handy all the time.

Refill Your Cup
Bring your reusable cup or mug. Many places, including Food Services, offer discounts for those who do. Plus, you’ll keep paper, foam, and plastic cups out of our overburdened landfills.

Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk saves money and resources. You can limit the waste associated with product packaging. And bulk items are often higher quality and lower cost.

Go Paperless
Share information and turn in assignments digitally. Challenge your club, your class, and your friends to go paperless. If you must print, save money by printing on both sides.

Think Before You Go

Hop on the Bus
Take the bus. APPALCART provides free fixed route and paratransit service throughout the university and Boone, as well as low-fare van service to other towns within Watauga County.

Carbon Neutral Commuter
The OOS and Parking Services are pleased to partner to purchase carbon offsets for university students, faculty, and staff. When you register for your parking permit, you will have the opportunity to participate in the Carbon Neutral Commuter program for an additional $8 charge. This will help Appalachian toward its goal of carbon neutrality by the year 2050.

Heading Home
Find out about regional public transportation options from the NCDOT.

Use the Stairs
If for no other reason, use the stairs to work those legs and lungs. Elevators are energy gobblers, too, so think before you push UP. It’s eco- and heart-smart.

Drive Smarter
Take your time and drive the speed limit. You’ll save gas, create fewer emissions and be safer. Relax, be courteous, and enjoy the drive.

Use Less Stuff

Pass It On
Have items someone else could use? Bring your unwanted clothes, furniture, electronics to a local thrift store or set up a swap meet with your friends.

Clean with Green
Clean with products that are designed to be sensitive to the environment. These decisions lead to better water and indoor air quality for yourself and others.

Before you buy it, see if someone has one to borrow. And always offer to share.

Do You Need It?
When it comes to all the stuff in your life, ask yourself: do I really need it? Can I get by without it? Chances are you don’t and you can.

Shop Local
Support local businesses and farmers. Spending your money in your community helps strengthen local economies and saves resources. Local products are often higher quality and you may build lasting relationships along the way.

Purchase Quality
If you have to buy it, buy quality. It might be more expensive now, but it will last longer and produce less waste. You are worth it.

Consume Less
Be intentional about what you consume, especially paper and prepackaged foods. Pay attention to the items and resources you use unconsciously everyday: napkins, condiments, cups, and bags.