University Housing
Students harvesting crops

Other Programming Ideas

Sustainability Jeopardy

Purpose: to have fun while learning facts and information about the environment.

Materials: Jeopardy PowerPoint, pens and scrap paper to write the final wager, paper to keep track of points, and laptop, projector, and screen.

i. Decide on one or two people to host (play Alex) and one to run the PowerPoint
ii. Organize contestants into groups of two or three (depending on how many people attend).
iii. Identify a judge who will be the final say on who “rang in” first (this can be the host).
iv. Find a way to ring in that is suitable for your hall; this may mean slapping a table, raising hands, etc.
v. Play the Jeopardy game as usual, keeping track of points as you go.
vi. When it comes to final Jeopardy, distribute the paper for final wager and answer. Award a winner.

Helpful Hints: 
i. It is nice to have some sort of prize for the winners, t-shirts, mugs, cups, etc.
ii. For clarification on Jeopardy rules prior to play, watch an episode on TV.

Sustainability Scavenger Hunt

Purpose: to teach residents how to identify recyclable materials, and how to properly recycle them.

Materials: Reused paper with the list of items students must find.


  • Distribute the “to-find” lists to groups of 2 or 3 students.
  • Have students search the building for each of the items.
  • The group to come back with all the items first, wins.
  • The item list includes:
    • #1 Plastic;
    • #2 Plastic;
    • #3, #4, #5,#6, or #7 plastic;
    • Tin Can;
    • Aluminum Can;
    • Chip Board;
    • Cardboard
    • Plastic Bottle;
    • Newspaper;
    • Sheet of Printer Paper or Notebook Paper;
    • Plastic Grocery Bag.
    • Aerosol cans
    • Mixed Cartons (juice, milk)
  1. When students return, go through what is recyclable in the halls and what is not. Explain where to take the items. Have the residents recycle what can be recycled, and throw away the rest of the items.


Helpful Hints:

  1. #1-#7 is recyclable through John’s.
  2. Some halls have a plastic bag recycling receptacle. If you do, you can recycle the bag. If not, it needs to be thrown away or given to someone to reuse.
  • All recyclables go to the outdoor bin TOGETHER!

Sustainable Card Art

Purpose: to show students the benefits of reusing materials.

Materials: Have residents bring scrap paper or any craft making supplies they might have. Also, raid the supply room for markers, paint, scissors, glue, stickers, scrap paper, felt, ribbons, etc.

Procedure: Working with the residents, identify a person or people they would like to make a card for. Using the craft supplies, get creative and decorate the cards as conservatively or lavishly as they would like. Take time to write out the inside of the cards before they leave.

Helpful Hints:

  • You can make great picture envelopes from old magazine ads or pages.
  • It’s helpful to pick an occasion, like Valentines Day or St. Patrick’s day, to theme the cards.

Outdoor Play Time

Purpose: To laud the benefits of enjoying nature, hopefully inspiring a call to action (to preserve natural settings).

Materials: Ball (football, soccer ball, etc.) or Frisbee


  1. Take residents to the mall, the intramural fields or another natural setting. Play the game (being sure to be inclusive of all skill levels).
  2. Have a short discussion where you address the following topics: what does playing games have to do with sustainability? What impact could the loss of natural spaces have on future generations’ ability to enjoy the outdoors?
  • What steps can we take to preserve our natural spaces?

Helpful Hints: Be sure to hold the discussion if you are trying to earn points for Recycle Mania (or make the obvious link to sustainability).

Earth Hour Simulation

Purpose: to raise awareness about electricity conservation.

Materials: Games, Frisbee, balls, telescopes (if desired).

Procedure: Have residents turn off all electrical appliances in their rooms. Preferably, they should unplug anything they can. Go outside for an hour, playing games that do not require the use of any electricity. Have a brief discussion covering the following topics:

  • Why are we out here tonight?
  • Why did we bother to unplug our items (because they still use electricity, even when turned off)?
  • What habits can you commit to to reduce your energy use?

Helpful Hints: Some possible games include tag; Red Rover; Mafia; Assassin; Frisbee; Ultimate Frisbee; Dodge ball; Duck, Duck, Goose; Kickball; Hopscotch; soccer; football; stargazing; etc.

Poster Making to Save Energy

Purpose: to raise awareness about electricity conservation

Materials: scrap paper, old fliers, old pieces of butcher paper, markers, glitter, decorative baubles.


  1. First, research facts about energy use. How much electricity does turning off the TV really save? What about lights in the room? Unplugging laptops, etc? Come up with some fun energy conservation facts.
  2. Next, use the facts to create the posters.
  3. Hang in conspicuous places around the hall.

Tie Dye Party
Purpose: to raise awareness about reusing items and the benefits of giving them a new life
Materials: Dye, rubber bands, clothing (brought by residents), water for the dye, possibly snacks and drinks.

  1. Follow all directions on the dye; read these directions aloud to the residents.
  2. Have residents but rubber bands around their shirts, etc. in different, interesting patterns.
  3. Use the dye to create color schemes and the tie-dye effect.
  1. Leave items out to dry and be picked up.
  2. Have a brief discussion while working that covers the following topics: Why are we doing this activity, what does it have to do with sustainability? How do you define sustainability (perpetual and cooperative environmental, social, and economic systems)? What are the benefits or reusing items on a regular basis? What are some ways you reuse?


Helpful Hints:

  1. This activity should be done OUTDOORS.
  2. The dye is very likely to stain, so be very cautious.
  3. Leave clothing out to dry in a central location instead of making residents take back to their rooms right away. It will be less messy.

Fancy Flower Potting

Purpose: to teach students about how easy it is to reuse items that may look like trash.

Materials: Water/soda bottles, craft supplies (paint, brushes, decorative baubles, markers, scissors, etc.), potting soil, and flower seeds.


  • Begin by cutting the tops off of the bottles.
  • Have residents decorate the new pots.
  • Pour in the potting soil when everything has dried.
  • Plant the flower seed.

Helpful Hints:

  • Choose a flower that doesn’t need a lot of sunlight as they will be growing inside a room.
  • Use craft supplies left -over from other programs.

Natural Disaster Remodel

Purpose: to think about what a truly sustainable society would look like and inspire action to remodel our current communities to look more like the ideal ones.

Materials: Scrap paper, pens, markers, scissors, tape, old newspaper, Popsicle sticks (optional).


  1. Begin by informing residents that their community has been completely destroyed by a natural disaster; not even the roads survived. Working in small groups, it is their job to remodel their community in a more sustainable way.
  2. Working in small groups and using the materials on hand, create a model of what the community would look like. What new features should be brought in? What do they want to keep?
  3. When finished, have the residents present their models to the other groups and explain what sustainable features they incorporated.


Use the following prompts to guide your discussion:

  1. What did we just do? What did you observe about your reactions and the reactions of those around you?
  2. How did you feel as you were responsible for rebuilding your community?
  3. How do you define sustainability (perpetual and cooperative environmental, social, and economic systems)? How can we make our communities more sustainable without starting from scratch? Why did we do this exercise?
  4. What can you do with this new information? What action will you take, if any? What messages will you now try to convey to others?


Helpful Hints: Remind students to think about energy sources, layout, and how they will create a sense of community


Purpose: to laud the benefits of contributing to your local community as well as create an understanding of what it is like to serve others.

Materials: This depends on the type of service you complete. If you are doing a trash pickup, you will need gloves and bags. If you are working with the Food Bank to glean fruit, they will provide what you need. If you aren’t sure what materials you might need, work with your ACD.

Procedure: This will depend on what you are doing to volunteer. Use common sense to determine how to go about your service.

Helpful Hints:

  • Consider partnering with a local organization like the Community Food Bank so they can help you with materials and ideas.
  • Consider carpooling or walking to your destination to save on Carbon emissions.
  • Jitters is an easy place to volunteer and a ton of fun!

University Housing
200 Goodhue Hall
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater


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