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Volunteer Opportunities

UMD students "talk trash" in front of a waste sorting station in the Food Court

There are many ways to get involved and help promote sustainability on campus!  

A campus clean-up will reduce unsightly litter that impacts our grounds and impacts wildlife our forests, streams and ponds.  Conducting a clean-up is a great way to engage a group in sustainability conversations and to contribute to the environmental efforts of our campus. Use the Volunteer form to join a planned campus cleanup. If you're a group that would like to host a cleanup, please follow the instructions below:

How to Host a Clean-up: 

1. Contact the Sustainability Office for support! Email or call 218-726-6245. You will need to provide an estimate of the number of participants and the office can supply gloves, bags, and safety vests (as needed). We will also help identify specific areas of campus to target, certain areas to avoid, and optimal dates for your clean-up event.

2.  During the clean-up:

  • Separate recycling (empty bottles & cans,cardboard/paper) and trash.

  • Keep safety in mind: share these tips with your volunteer crew!

    • Don’t lift anything too heavy.  Report it to Facilities Management (726-8262) or Sustainability Office.

    • Watch carefully for broken glass or other sharp items.

    • Don’t pour out sealed soda bottles or other containers (unless you can tell it is for sure just soda).  Full containers are TRASH.  Empty containers are RECYCLING.

    • Stay off the street and watch for traffic.

    • If you see anything suspicious, don’t touch it, report it.

3.  When you are done: leave bags of recycling and trash (separated) near the signposts only on campus roads (University Drive, Kirby Drive, or St. Marie St. on the UMD side) for Facilities Management to collect. You can also leave extra boxes of gloves and rolls of bags on top of the trash bags for UMD Facilities Management to collect.

When to hold a cleanupClean-ups are needed year-round, although targeted areas may change as groups volunteer. Early in Fall semester and anytime after the snow melts are excellent times.  Summer clean-ups along the local creeks are much appreciated.

**Not available for Fall 2020. Volunteers are needed for tailgating at home UMD Football games. Volunteer circulate through the stadium parking lot during the 3 hours prior to game time to help Bulldog fans sort their trash/recycling while they tailgate! Volunteers also will receive a UMD Sustainability T-shirt!

Tools and supplies will be provided.  Email to get involved.


Outgoing, friendly people are needed to talk a little trash!   The purpose of trash talking at UMD is to educate people to sort their items properly and reduce the amount of recyclable and compostable items going to the landfill.

Students who participate will undergo a brief training (10 minutes), wear official Trash Talker nametags and stand near high-traffic waste stations to assist/guide/coach people in sorting. A few examples of high-traffic areas are the Food Court or Kirby Student Center Lounge. 

The UMD Land Lab does more than just grow vegetables. If you are interested in food systems, food justice, sustainability, soil, ecology, GIS, or water quality look into volunteering at the Riley Road site. Contact Teresa Bertossi, UMD Land Lab Director for more information at

Do you find yourself pulling plastic bottles out of the trash bin and putting them in the recycling bin? Do you ever wonder how much of our trash is actually trash? Then you've come to the right place! If you're down to sort through bags of waste and analyze the results then WE NEED YOU!

Waste Audits are conducted every semester to monitor how our waste sorting system is doing and whether or not people are putting the Right Thing in the Right Bin. Each audit helps us to target where to focus our education and outreach initiatives. Check out the results from past audits here. 

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Additional Resources

Tip: Don’t hold a car wash without reading this first!