10 Tips for Sustainable Living During the Winter

1. Use public transportation to keep warm while getting around

  • When it’s too cold to walk and the Bird (scooters) have flown South for the Winter, catch a ride on the bus! Fixed-route rides on Ann Arbor’s TheRide buses are FREE with your MCard, and commuting on campus is easy with this MBus schedule.

  • Check out this article for more info on using public transportation in Ann Arbor.


2. Use a reusable mug when warming up with a hot drink

  • Make a habit of bringing a reusable mug with you when walking around campus. This reduces waste and saves you money! Pro tip: You can get discounted drinks from most campus coffee shops if you bring your own mug.


3. Energy efficiency at home

  • Insulation is key for keeping out cold winter air. Ask your landlord about clear window film to prevent heat from escaping or weather stripping for windows and doors.

  • Keep drapes open during the day to let in the warm sunlight and closed at night to keep out drafts.

  • Unplug small appliances, chargers, and adaptors to avoid phantom energy.

  • Turn down the heat at night or when you leave for long periods of time.

  • Bundle up at home before turning up the heat. If you’re someone who gets cold easily, check out these microwave heated slippers manufactured locally in Ann Arbor!

  • If you live in a residence hall and think your window may be letting in cold air, submit a maintenance request.


4. Eat seasonally and locally

  • The Ann Arbor Farmers Market is open year-round on Saturdays. (Yes, even in the winter!).

  • Check out this awesome sustainable food guide sponsored by the U-M Sustainable Food Program for on campus and off-campus students.


5. Compost in the Winter

  • City of Ann Arbor does not pick up compost from residences during the winter but that doesn’t mean you should toss your compost in the trash! Place everything you would normally compost in a compostable bag and place it in the freezer. Take it to a compost bin on campus when it gets full!

  • This map shows all places on campus with a compost bin.


6. Use water wisely

  • Taking long hot showers isn’t just a waste of water, it also dries out your skin. Keep your showers as short as possible and try turning off the water when you’re shampooing.


7. Avoid chemical de-icers and gasoline-powered snow removal products

  • If you’re living off-campus, your landlord may do snow removal for you. If not, consider getting good exercise by shoveling snow yourself. It’s better for the environment and a great way to get some fresh air.


8. Be conscious of what you’re gifting in the season of giving

  • Use reused materials to wrap presents: There are plenty of blogs online showing creative ways to wrap presents in an environmentally-friendly way. Here’s one example.

  • Consider gifting something zero waste, like food or homemade beauty products. Again, there are plenty of blogs with great ideas online, but here’s one to get you inspired.

  • Visit the Ann Arbor Artisan Market on Sundays. It’s at the same location as the Saturday Farmer’s Market, and there are tons of unique gifts from local artists. Last market day of the season is Dec 23!


9. Get a responsibly-sourced winter coat

  • Reuse shops and donation centers like Salvation Army and PTO Thrift Shop have a great selection of quality second-hand apparel. Check out what they have before buying new!

  • Thinking about a down coat? Make sure that it was processed in a cruelty-free way. Companies like Patagonia and The North Face have traceable and responsible down standards. Always research the company’s practices before you buy.


10. Get PBA certified!

  • Interested in helping others live more sustainably? Take the Planet Blue Ambassador training online and join a community of environmental supporters on campus!


-Contributed by Paige T., Planet Blue