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Six Ways to Be Earth-Friendly at OU

Six Simple Ways to Be Earth-Friendly at OU

OU Student rides a bike near Bizzell Library in the springtime

The University of Oklahoma prides itself on its commitment to maintaining a sustainable and environmentally friendly campus. With Earth Day being celebrated worldwide on April 22, it is the perfect opportunity to evaluate your efforts toward sustainability and make a change that matters.

Sarah Ballew, director of energy and sustainability on the OU Norman campus, says that the collective action of us all will make a difference.

“Start small if you are at the beginning of your journey to be more earth-friendly,” Ballew said. “Or, consider what meaningful changes are right for you if you are further along in your journey. Everyone has the opportunity to make a personal change and impact.”

Here are six simple ways you can help OU be more earth friendly.

  1. Recycle. OU’s Norman campus recycling program accepts aluminum, steel, tin, plastics #1-7, white paper, mixed paper, newspaper, paperboard and cardboard. Before placing an item in a recycling bin, make sure that it is dry, empty and clear of food residue. Look for blue bins inside campus buildings, outdoor receptacles with blue lids along the sidewalks and trailers across campus for cardboard collection. At HSC, look for the blue bins in each building for recycling paper and for department-specific cardboard and aluminum recycling opportunities, such as in the Student Union and the University Village Apartments. OU-Tulsa has also adopted a recycling program.
  2. Utilize public transportation. The university offers a free campus shuttle program on the Norman campus and at the Health Sciences Center for students, faculty and staff. Additionally, students may ride public transportation routes operated by the City of Norman at no cost. OU also operates the VeoRide program on the Norman campus, which allows students, faculty and staff to use bicycles at no cost and scooters for a minimal cost. Additionally, the Norman campus has bike repair stations to help keep bikes well-tuned and operational.
  3. Reduce single-use plastics. Carry a reusable water bottle and fill it at one of the 80 filtered bottle filling stations located across the Norman campus, the 100 stations on the HSC campus, as well as several stations at OU-Tulsa.
  4. Commit to conservation. OU’s Energy Conservation Program leads to direct, measurable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Many energy projects have been implemented on all three campuses, including lighting occupancy sensors, LED lighting and optimized building control systems. Students and employees can commit to conservation by turning off lights or reducing lighting when possible, being mindful of thermostat settings and unplugging devices like phone chargers when not in use.
  5. Participate in the Norman campus OU Fit+Rec GardenLearn about food and become a better steward of the environment by designing, nurturing and harvesting the community garden.
  6. Get involved. Join an OU environmental student group. Attend one of the five remaining OU all-campus Green Week Events:
    • Wednesday, April 21
      • ISPY Something Green | 7 p.m. | Zoom – Hunt for sustainable alternatives around your home.
    • Thursday, April 22
      • International Sustainability Panel | 4 p.m. | Zoom – Hear international students share their perspectives on the climate crisis.
      • Lettuce Eat | 6 p.m. | Zoom – Cook the vegan lasagna of your dreams alongside Dr. Julia Ehrhardt, associate professor of American studies in the OU Honors College.
    • Friday, April 23 – Norman campus
      • ECO/EGO: T-shirt Swap Sendoff | 11 a.m. | South Oval – Donate to the OU Food Pantry and get a T-shirt.
      • Feed the Can | 4 p.m. | Colonial Estates Shopping Center, 1301 E. Lindsey St.| Sign up to join the City of Norman to clean up our community and celebrate a great Green Week.


To learn more about building sustainability at OU, visit


By Mackenzie Scheer

Article Published:  Wednesday, April 21, 2021