5 Ways to Have A Greener Winter

Person trudges across Bascom Hill near Science Hall in snowstorm.
Photo By: Jeff Miller // Person trudges across Bascom Hill near Science Hall in snowstorm.

As the temperature becomes brisk and snow begins to appear on the weather forecasts, there’s plenty of simple ways to sustainably prepare for the change in season, from putting on a sweater to bringing out your reusable mug. Even in the chilly winter season, we can keep things green with a few tips from the Office of Sustainability:

  1. Create Your Own Compost—In Your Freezer!

You can compost 365 days a year by using a re-sealable bag of any size. All you need to do is collect your food waste, coffee grounds, napkins and any of the other items from our composting guide, and put them in the bag in your freezer. When the bag is full, take it to one of our campus composting sites!

  1. Eat Seasonally & Locally

Treat yourself to nutritious produce and fruits that benefit your health, while also supporting local Wisconsin famers and the planet. Find out what’s currently being harvested at any time of the year using this seasonal availability guide to inform your grocery shopping. The Dane County Farmers’ Market is also open all year-round.

Late winter farmer's market
The late winter farmer’s market in Madison, WI.
  1. Energy Efficiency at Home

There are a few different ways to conserve energy when temperatures become colder:

  • Insulation is key to keeping your dorm or apartment warm and cutting electric costs. If you rent in an older building, ask your landlord to consider installing clear window insulation film to help prevent heat from escaping out of leaky window frames.
  • Keep drapes open during the day for rays of sunlight to warm the room and close them at night to keep out chilly drafts.
  • Make sure chargers, adapters, and small appliances are all unplugged before you head out for class or go to sleep to avoid phantom energy.
  • Turn down the heat at night and when you leave the house for longer periods of time.
  • Consider the old-fashioned way of bundling up with an extra layer of clothing while at home before turning up that thermostat an extra degree.
  1. Stay Warm with a Reusable Mug!

Choose to use a reusable mug to warm up with your favorite hot beverage and keep its contents warm in the blustery weather. Most coffee and tea shops in Madison offer discounts for bringing a reusable and it makes a zero waste impact. But don’t worry, if you forget your mug, just remember to recycle your disposable cup properly—the sleeve goes into mixed paper, the lid goes into the commingle, and the cup goes into the trash. Check out a video about recycling coffee cups here!

  1. Cozy Up To Public Transportation

This applies year-round, but it’s especially helpful in the winter. Make use of that bus pass and you’ll not only cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, but you’ll be stepping into a pre-warmed, safe vehicle! Plus you’ll avoid issues with finding a space during winter parking bans.


By: Trina La Susa