An ever-green season for an ever-better holiday

As 2023 comes to a close, members of our community will be traveling, celebrating, and reflecting. As part of the transition to winter break and time away, University Facilities and Services would like to offer some tips to help you celebrate sustainably. Read on for some tips to minimize your environmental footprint this season.

Winter break power down

For those who will be away from their work area or residence hall, The Holiday Energy Saving Checklist can help prepare for time away while reducing energy use.

  • Unplug all kitchen appliances, including microwaves, toasters, coffee makers, etc.
  • Unplug bedroom and office appliances, including lamps, fans, TVs, printers, computers, etc.
  • Dispose of all perishable food from fridges and unplug them if possible (most applicable for residence hall rooms).
  • Lower your thermostat to 60 degrees. This will prevent unnecessary heating/cooling while you are away.
  • Close your doors, windows, and blinds to stop heat from escaping the building.
  • Turn off all your lights.

Be sure to consult your department administrator to find out if there are specific guidelines to follow before wrapping up for the year. Implementing even a few of these tips can help make your holiday a little greener. For assistance or questions, call the Facilities Customer Service Center at 585-273-4567.

Low-impact holidays

A more sustainable holiday doesn’t have to sacrifice the fun of the season. Incorporating these activities can help build new greener traditions. The City of Rochester offers a holiday tree recycling program so real trees can ultimately be kept out of the landfill. There are several drop off locations around the city available through the end of January. Trees are made into mulch and returned to the public for free through the Materials Give Back Program. Locations include:

  • Genesee Valley Park tennis courts
  • Cobbs Hill Park – Lake Riley Lodge east parking lot
  • Norton Village – Opposite #341 Waring Road
  • Charlotte – Estes Street opposite Abbott’s Ice Cream parking lot

Many towns in Monroe County operate their own holiday tree recycling programs, so contact your local municipality to find out if they offer this service this year. Ecopark, operated by a Waste Management and Monroe County, can safely dispose of items that can’t be recycled at the curb. Read about their tips for holiday recycling and visit ecopark’s website for more details.

Cleaning and organizing can be a common activity this time of year. When clearing out the old to make way for the new, consider donating to mission-driven organizations. Below are a few places that accept donations of new or gently used items. Check with the organization before dropping off items, especially if they have items they cannot accept.


In an effort to reduce our overall consumption of supplies that can go along with gift giving (e.g.; shipping, packaging, wrapping), we’ve compiled a list of gifts and practices that can have a positive impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and trips to the landfill.

  • Avoid buying new wrapping paper and make the packaging part of the gift. Using second hand baskets, pots for food items, and beautiful dish towels or scarves can serve as a wrapping alternative that keeps on giving.
  • Experiential gifts are a zero-waste idea for people of all ages. Whether it’s museum admissionart classes, or theater tickets, there is so much to do around Rochester.

Have a safe, warm, and green holiday!


Written by Carmen Marshall ‘25

Photo by Monika Stawowy / Unsplash