Small steps, big impact: 10 ways to get more involved with sustainability

The Earth as a blue marble sitting on mossy rock with sunlight shining down on it.

As our world grapples with the challenges of climate change, it may seem like an insurmountable challenge. It’s not. Seemingly small actions like a green sticker campaign can have a ripple effect, and individuals and local groups are positively impacting sustainability issues.  

How does one person make a difference? From simple everyday actions to larger systemic changes, everyone can get involved with the sustainability movement at NAU and be a part of the solution to address the pressing challenges facing our planet.  

Here are 10 ways you can get more involved in sustainability at NAU: 

1. Walk to work, school and anywhere you can make it work! 

Take a page from President José Luis Cruz Rivera and choose to walk. From walking throughout Flagstaff to walking to work, our very busy president makes the decision to walk. It was a wonderful way to get to know his new town and he still chooses to walk and continues to be amazed by his #NAUView. So next time you need to be somewhere think about adding a few minutes to your commute by walking. You never know what natural beauty you may come across and you might even be able to wave a quick hello to our president as he power walks to his next meeting! *Points for biking too, just no selfies please! 

2. Attend a fun event for Earth Day like Earth Jam! 

On Earth Day, April 22, Earth Jam will be the ultimate celebration of sustainability that you won’t want to miss. The event will take place on the north lawn by Old Main from 2-6 p.m. with live music from local bands, food, lawn games and wandering performers to keep you entertained throughout the event. Did we mention the event is free? Mark your calendars and get ready for an afternoon of unforgettable fun, live music and a celebration of mother earth. 

3. Get clarity from Environment, Identity, and Coping in the Current Climate Emergency

Have you been feeling anxious, sad, angry or distressed about the climate and biodiversity crises? You’re not alone. Don’t miss out on an eye-opening and empowering community lecture by clinical and environmental psychologist Thomas Doherty from 7-8:15 p.m. April 27 at the Cline Library Lecture Hall. Doherty is a pioneering eco-psychologist, with a specialty in addressing people’s concerns about environmental issues and climate change. This thought-provoking lecture is a must-attend for anyone seeking to better understand and navigate the emotional challenges of the climate crisis. 

4. Read NAU’s Climate Action Plan.

5. Don’t go it alone! Organize a team volunteer event for one of NAU’s many sustainability initiatives. 

Erik Nielsen, NAU’s inaugural chief sustainability officer, has community and camaraderie in mind when thinking about everyone becoming more engaged in the sustainability programs at NAU.  

 “I would love to see organizations, clubs and departments adopt a week or a day for volunteering with NAU efforts like food recovery so that these efforts become more institutionally sustainable,” Nielsen said. 

As a bonus, you may be able to use your community engagement hours to serve. 

6. Get involved with the NAU Food Recovery Network. 

The NAU Food Recovery Network (FRN) is an awesome program that is making a significant impact in reducing food waste and helping those in need. The NAU chapter of FRN was invited to join the national effort to reduce food waste at the Super Bowl this year! The volunteering process is simple and typically takes about an hour or less, making it easy for anyone to get involved and contribute to the community and the environment. Reach out to the NAU Food Recovery Network chapter at to sign up. 

7. Participate in NAU’s Environmental Caucus 

The Environmental Caucus at NAU is committed to promoting conservation education, innovative research, and sustainable operations to create a green campus and a sustainable future for the Flagstaff community. They have several initiatives, including conservation programs like the Green Office Certification Program and the Sustainable Ambassador Program, available to all students and staff at NAU. Check their website for updates on events and initiatives. If you are interested in joining the Environmental Caucus or would like more information, you can email them at 

8. Attend the NAU Environmental Caucus Sustainability Leadership Awards ceremony. 

Meet the leaders who make a difference! You may find your sustainability passion project and be inspired to join the Energy Mentor Program, a group of faculty and staff members who support the culture of sustainability at NAU by pledging to adopt and encourage key energy-saving behaviors. 

9. Get involved with the Green Jacks at NAU. 

NAU Green Jacks is a student-run club at an undisclosed university that aims to encourage sustainability on campus. It is open to all students, faculty, staff, and administrators who are interested in the environment, the outdoors, or sustainability. To receive email updates about meeting times and other club activities or to join Green Jacks, interested individuals can email  

10. Learn about NAU’s revamped recycling system, recycle right and encourage others to do the same!  

NAU has launched an ambitious new recycling program aimed at making the university more sustainable. Spend some time learning about NAU’s new program and ensure you know how to recycle right! The Flagstaff recycling guide outlines what should be placed in a recycling bin and understanding more about recycling contamination will help prevent recyclable materials from being wasted due to contamination, ensuring that they can be successfully recycled.


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Cynthia Gerber | NAU Communications
(928) 523-7341 |

NAU Communications