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Events and Campaigns

All year long UT Sustainability puts on a variety of events and campaigns to help raise student’s awareness on why it is important to Make Orange Green.


Below are the list of reoccurring events that promote sustainability in a wide variety of ways. Be sure to check the event calendar for the dates of these events.



POWER Challenge

A UT tradition since 2005, the Make Orange Green POWER Challenge is a way for the UT community to demonstrate its commitment to reducing the university’s environmental impact. The POWER (Programs of Water, Energy, and Recycling) Challenge is a month-long competition that puts UT residence halls against each other in a battle to see which hall is the greenest.

A variety of different actions will award Res Halls points. Throughout the month prizes will be awarded to RAs and residents with cool programs, awesome bulletin boards, and dedication to making their floor go green. At the end of October, the residence hall with the most points wins the POWER Challenge and a prize for all residents to use throughout the year.

During the 2017 POWER Challenge, over $70,000 in energy and water costs were avoided. Massey Hall won the competition with 2,764 points, Fred Brown Hall came in second with 1,592 points, and Hess Hall was third with 925 points. For pictures of the month long campaign, check out the Facebook Album


Mug Project

Mug Project

The mug project is a campus-wide initiative to eliminate single-use containers and bottles ans save natural resources.

How Does it Work?

UT students, faculty, and staff can bring their own mug of twenty-four ounces or less and receive $1.19 drip coffee and fountain beverages, a savings of forty cents or more. The program also offers 15% off specialty coffee beverages. More than 90 percent of Volunteer Dining locations are participating, including Starbucks, Einstein’s, Quiznos, and Subway.

Why Use a Reusable Mug?

Cups cost restaurants money and those costs are transferred to the consumer. Also, waxy paper cups and Styrofoam cups cannot be recycled locally, which costs the university money to send them to the landfill. Most of all, cups cost huge amounts of energy and natural resources to make and transport. NO paper cup is recyclable!

UT’s 27,000 students use an estimated 3,225 cups per day. Over the course of a year, that requires 485 trees, 290,000 gallons of water, and 360 million BTUs of energy—enough to power four households for a year.

Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Rot.

My Tiny Trash

my tiny trash

My Tiny Trash is a waste reduction initiative implemented by UT Recycling within offices on the UTK campus, in efforts to Make Orange Green.

Why do we have a My Tiny Trash initiative?

It is estimated that nearly 90% of waste generated within offices is recyclable or compostable. We are implementing My Tiny Trash in offices to promote waste awareness and environmental stewardship, in hopes of increasing recycling rates on campus, while decreasing landfill waste.

What should I put in My Tiny Trash bin?

You should place all non-recyclable materials in your Tiny Trash bin. This includes candy wrappers, chip bags, foil, and straws. When full, you will be responsible for

emptying your Tiny Trash into the grey landfill bin at waste stations throughout the building.

Where should I put my recyclable or compostable materials?

Your recyclable materials, including paper, plastic, glass bottles/jars, aluminum cans and steel cans, go in your blue desk side recycling bin. When it fills up, you will take and sort this bin into the blue and green bins at the waste stations. Your compostable materials (food scraps, napkins, etc) should be taken to the compost bin in the break room.

Energy Conservation: Time of Use & Peak Hours

It is always important to try and conserve energy but during certain times of the year, there are particular hours in the day in which it is important to be extra mindful of energy usage.

Faculty, staff, students, and visitors can follow these tips to save resources and lower energy costs:

  • Schedule printing, copying, and other energy-intensive office work for after 11:00 a.m.
  • Cook and reheat food with microwaves instead of conventional ovens
  • Keep outside doors and windows closed and dress warmly to conserve heating
  • Turn off the lights when you’re the last to leave a room, and take advantage of natural light
  • When possible, take the stairs and limit your use of elevators
  • Power down unused computers and other electronic appliances, set computers to sleep mode when not in use for ten minutes or more. (For more information on energy vampires, go here!)


Peak times for energy use are determined by the Tennessee Valley Authority and vary by season. Peak energy use billing, which became mandatory for TVA’s largest customers in 2011, provides the campus with an opportunity to save on energy costs by adjusting study, work, and play habits.


WINTER peak hours

During the winter months, peak energy hours are from 5am-11am, and run Mondays through Fridays between December 1st to March 31st.


During the summer, peak energy hours are from 2pm- 8:30pm therefore it is best to plan high energy activities for the morning.

Zero Waste Game Days

UT Recycling is working in partnership with UT Athletics, Aramark, Office of Sustainability, and Good Sports Always Recycle to eliminate at least 90% of waste created during athletic events through recycling and composting across Big Orange Country.

Tennessee football in its current state creates over 21 tons of landfill waste per game, nearly all of which is recyclable or compostable. That means that each football season generates over 147 tons of waste that contributes to water and air pollution and increases already overwhelmed landfill levels. The University of Tennessee Volunteers want to do better! Help UT Recycling achieve zero waste by volunteering a few hours of your time as we shutout waste in and around Neyland.

Come help us Keep Neyland Beautiful and shutout waste.

Fresh Plate Friday’s

Once monthly, the Presidential Center Dining, in conjunction with the Office of Sustainability, hosts an event centered on increasing campus awareness about the health and environmental benefits of plant-based diets.


recyclemania 2018

RecycleMania is a yearly intercollegiate recycling competition held between nearly 200 colleges and universities. The goal of RecycleMania are to educate faculty, staff, and students about waste reduction. Schools are ranked against each other based on our recycling, composting, and landfill data in addition to the number of people who get involved with programs.


The first Friday of every month out office releases the monthly newsletter called “The Green Leaf”. It includes everything from environmental organization spotlights, to volunteer and general environmental events happening throughout the month in Knoxville, and seasonal tips on how to live your life more sustainability. Below are the links to the past newsletters.

Smokey’s Pantry


Smokey’s Pantry is the first food pantry at the University of Tennessee Knoxville and we focus our services in the students, faculty, and staff of our university. The pantry is a collaboration between the student government, Tyson House (the Lutheran and Episcopalian Campus Ministry), FISH Pantry, and also with support from the Office of Student Life, and many more partners. This year, Smokey’s pantry received donations from the SPEAK garden.

Environmental Stewardship Fund

What is the fund?
Created in 2005, the Campus Environmental Stewardship Fund encourages and enables faculty, staff, and other donors to help make the Knoxville campus an outstanding example of environmental leadership.

What does the fund do?
The money in the fund is used in projects and initiatives throughout campus, closely matching the use of the Student Environmental Initiatives fee. Some uses for the money include purchasing green power, purchasing hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles, and installing energy-efficient heating and lighting systems, as well as promoting energy conservation on campus.

How can I help?
Contributing to the fund is easy! One way is to make a contribution using the gift form via the secure UT Foundation website. To make a recurring gift via credit card, select “I would like to schedule payments” in the Designation section.

UT faculty and staff can contribute to the fund directly from each paycheck. To make a gift via payroll deduction, please contact Mary Ingram of the UT Foundation at 865-974-2522 or

Your gifts will help UT make continuing strides to reduce energy usage and pollution while increasing environmental awareness on campus.

Thanks for supporting environmental stewardship at UT!