The College of the Environment is committed to minimizing our effects on the environment through responsible use of resources and sustainable practices. Below are guidelines that we suggest for sustainability while in the field.

In the field office:


  • Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms
  • Turn off unneeded overhead lighting in rooms with ample natural daylight
  • Turn off your computer and other electronic devices when leaving the office (using a power strip with an on/off switch makes this easier!)
  • Keep office thermostat set to the range of 65-68 F (maximum) in winter and 78 F (minimum) in summer
  • Consolidate trips so that vehicle use is kept to a minimum
  • Use rechargeable rather than disposable batteries when possible


  • Think before you print! Consider sending meeting agendas and information electronically
  • Print double-sided when possible
  • Use narrow margins (1” or less) and single spacing when possible
  • Use a program such as OneNote to record notes from meetings and research
  • Purchase/use recycled paper if possible
  • Reuse/bring notebooks or folders from home, to avoid unnecessary purchases


  • Ask your supervisor and co-workers about waste disposal practices. Recycle and compost (if compost services available) as much as possible
  • Use reusable/durable food containers instead of disposable food packaging to reduce waste whenever possible


  • Use a durable, reusable water bottle or cup in place of disposable plastic water bottles and cups.

In the field:

When in the field, many of the considerations to take into account also pertain to camping and other outdoor activities. There are, however, particular best practices for field work to reduce ecological impact. These guidelines are based on the framework of the Leave No Trace Principles:

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
  • Schedule your field excursion to avoid times of high use.
  • When sampling, preference places that are away from easy public view.
  • Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Use GPS or a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
  • Leave a work plan and route plan with someone who is not on the trip so that they know when to expect your return and when to start a search.

 Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • Protect riparian areas by setting up worksites at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
  • When sampling aquatic habitats, be careful not to disturb riparian areas by treading carefully.
  • Avoid taking short-cuts on steep sections of trails with switchbacks.
  • In popular areas:
  • In pristine areas:
    • Disperse use to minimize impact.
    • Use extreme caution in places where impacts are just beginning.
  • Use existing trails and campsites.
  • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.

 Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your worksite for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter, including crumbs and other micro-trash.
  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
  • Always attempt to sample in a way that minimizes traces of sampling.

 Leave What You Find

  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Take only what you need for specimen samples – leave the bulk of rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species by cleaning your boots before entering a new watershed. If using waders, avoid using felt-soled waders (now illegal in most states) and sterilize before entering a new watershed.
  • If using boats or trailers, clean them after hauling out of rivers and lakes.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

 Minimize Camp Fire Impacts

  • Fires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
  • If you do use larger wood, use firewood from local sources to make sure invasive species are not spread through firewood. In other words, buy it where you plan to burn it.
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out fires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife, food, and yourself by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: