Wake Forest University

FAQ - Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest



Browse the list of topics for answers to your frequently asked questions. Have a question we haven’t answered? Direct your inquiries to sustainability@wfu.edu.


Sustainable t-shirts

Recycling and Waste Reduction

What to Recycle at Wake

Recycling Bins and Totes

Reusable vs. Disposable: Is it worth it?

The Recycling Myth

Double-sided Printing

Disposing of Electronic Waste

E-waste Chain of Custody

Rolling the Quad

Battery Recycling

CFL Light bulb disposal

Water Coolers (Office Water Dispensers)

Sustainable Printing

Alternative Transportation

Carpooling: Emergency Ride Service

Carpooling to a Meeting

Food and Dining


Reusable to-go containers

Get Involved: Local Food Movement

Get Involved: Food on Campus

Sustainable Dining Options

Campus Garden Produce

Water and Energy

Hydration Stations

Landscaping water usage

Restroom Water Savings

Holiday Setbacks

Ban the Bottle

Bubbly Water

Vampire Energy

Life on campus

Master of Arts in Sustainability

Rolling the Quad

Get Involved

Summer Volunteer Opportunities

Sustainability Job Resources

Sustainability Ranking

Blogsites and E-Newsletters

FAQ: Fire Pit Outside Farrell Hall

November 7th, 2017

Q: Does the fire pit outside of Farrell Hall operate on a fixed schedule? 

A: Generally, the fire pit remains on and running from October 1 – March 31 from 9:00 am until 6:30 pm. The fire pit does not operate on weekends (unless there is a special request) or during inclement weather. For the rest of the year, the fire pit is turned off and covered. 

FAQ: Vampire Energy

October 31st, 2017

Q: What is vampire energy?

A: Even when turned off, electronics still use energy if they’re plugged into a power outlet. It may not seem like much, but over time, it can really add up. This “vampire energy” is drained by laptop chargers, cell phone chargers, TVs, video game systems, and other electronics. You can help slay these vampires by unplugging devices when they’re fully charged, leaving cords out of the outlets if you won’t be using them for a while, and using power strips that can be switched off.

FAQ: Composting at Events

October 26th, 2017

Q: My student organization/department/office is hosting a special event and we’d like to compost. Where do I start?

A: Whether it’s a small or large event, composting can be accomplished. First, be sure to request compost bins by placing a work order through Facilities and Campus Services for the number of compost bins you would like. Be sure to include the date of the event, the time you would like bins to be there, and an expected end time. Then, be sure to contact the Office of Sustainability (sustainability@wfu.edu). The Office of Sustainability can ensure that volunteers are present at your event to help guests properly sort their waste. This is recommended for every large event.

If your event is being catered, be sure to speak with the catering team about providing compostable dishware and silverware. Better yet, request reusable dishware and silverware if your budget allows. If you’re in a pinch and need to purchase your own dishware/silverware, know that only certified compostable utensils made from either corn, sugar or potato starch are the only utensils that can be composted. A list of ASTM D6400 or ASTM 6868 certified products are available at The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI). Additionally, most grocery stores carry paper plates and bowls that are compostable. Some are labeled as such, but as long as they are paper based and do not have a waxy coating they should be OK to compost.

At the end of the event, be sure to take your collected compostable items to the loading dock of Reynolda Hall outside of the Fresh Food Company. Here you will see compost bins marked for Gallins Family Farms. Place all collected materials for composting in these bins.

Note that Gallins Family Farms can compost meat, dairy, citrus, and bones as these materials break down in a commercial facility.

Incentives for Using a Reusable Mug/Bottle

September 29th, 2017

Q: Are there any places on campus that provide a discount for bringing your own mug or reusable bottle?

A: Yes, Starbucks and Campus Campus Grounds on the WFU campus offer a 25 cent discount if you bring your own mug. Join other Deacons and take the pledge to #ChoosetoReuse by bringing a reusable bottle or mug with you wherever you go!

FAQ: Video Resources for Sustainability

August 29th, 2017

Q: I am looking for a short video resource to visually display and teach the principles of sustainable development. Do you have any recommendations?

A: One of our favorites for short videos on sustainability topics is Sustainability Illustrated which offers short engaging videos to learn about and teach the principles of sustainability. The goal of these videos is to change the world by making sustainability knowledge available to all for free in a fun and engaging format. With a variety of videos on topics ranging from general sustainability and systems thinking to more specific tools and concepts, Sustainability Illustrated communicates sustainability both visually and effectively.

FAQ: Occupancy Sensors

August 9th, 2017

Q: How does the occupancy sensor in my room operate?

A: Occupancy sensors have been installed in a number of buildings to ensure that lights turn off when not in use. Many of these sensors respond to motion, while others are activated by both motion and sound. It is important to treat these light switches just like the old-fashioned toggle switches. When you enter a room, hit the button if the light does not come on automatically. If you are the last to leave a room, including the bathroom, make sure you press the button again to turn the light off.  This is important for two reasons. First, even though the light may turn off on its own after a period of inactivity, those precious minutes can really add up. If you leave your room four times a day and do not turn off the light upon leaving, you are allowing the lights to burn for an additional hour each day, or 10 full days over the course of the school year. That is a lot of energy that could be saved by a single student. Second, if the light is activated by sound as well, as it is in a number of residence halls, it may turn back on while you are gone if someone next door or above you makes a lot of noise. This is exactly what happens when students do not hit the button to turn off the light before going to bed. Rolling over in bed or coughing in the middle of the night is enough to trigger the light and wake you out of your peaceful slumber. Leave no doubt; turn it out.

FAQ: Zagster Bike Share

June 26th, 2017
Q: I saw that the National Cycling Center and the City of Winston Salem installed several Zagster bike share stations around town. How can I participate?

A: If you haven’t already, download the Zagster app and join the Winston-Salem, NC bike share. The app will help guide you through the following steps:
  1. BORROW: Get out your phone and open the Zagster app. Login and then enter the bike number in the “RIDE” screen. Tap the “START RIDE” button to start your ride. The app will show you the “CODE” number for the bike you’ve borrowed.
  2. UNLOCK: Enter the code into the bike’s lockbox, which is the box with a keypad on the rack of the bike. Press “ENT”, enter the code, then press “ENT” again. Make sure to press each button slowly and firmly.
  3. The box will flash the “MESSAGE” and “READY” lights once you’ve entered your code correctly. Pull the lockbox lid up and pull out the key inside. Use the key to operate the U-lock that attaches the bike to its station. Close the lockbox before you ride.
  4. RIDE: Have fun and stay safe! Use the U-lock to keep the bike secure if you make stops along the way. You must always lock the bike to a fixed object if you leave the bike during your ride. The lockbox lid must always be closed unless you are using the key inside. Your lockbox code will continue to work throughout your ride.
  5. RETURN: When you’re done, lock the bike back to a Zagster station and close the lockbox. Then go to the app and tap “END RIDE”.

FAQ: Single-Serve Coffee Makers

April 13th, 2017

QMy office uses a single-serve coffee maker. What is the environmental impact of these disposable plastic coffee pods?

A: You have options:
  • Lead by example. Brew an appropriately sized pot, use a reusable mug, and encourage others to do the same.
  • Recycle your K-Cups. Branded K-cups are recyclable through specialized recycling collection of #5 plastics. You must separate the filter and grounds from the cup before you make your deposit.
  • Make the switch. Find a brand that is compostable.
  • Send it back. Make use of Keurig’s Grounds to Grow program.

FAQ: Water Refill Station Filter Replacement

February 20th, 2017

Q: The water bottle refill station I frequent is indicating that the filter needs to be replaced. What should I do?

A: Do not fear; Wake Forest custodial staff members are constantly checking filter status of all bottle refill stations around campus. When the filter’s status indicates it is time for a change, a member of the custodial staff will submit a work order to the Academic/Administration Maintenance team to alert them that a filter needs to be replaced. Additionally, the maintenance team checks the refill stations on a monthly basis as part of the Preventive Maintenance Program.

FAQ: Paper Cup Recycling

December 3rd, 2016
Q: I often grab a to-go cup of coffee or beverage before heading to class or work in the morning. Can I recycle the paper cup the beverage is served in?

A: The problem with to-go beverage cups is that the cups are made of paper with a thin layer of wax or plastic lining, which helps to keep the liquid from soaking through the paper. The process for separating the paper from the liner isn’t yet technologically or economically feasible. Regular customers of certain international coffee chains have been led to believe that the process has been widely implemented, which is not the case. If grabbing a beverage to-go is a part of your daily ritual, make sure to carry a reusable mug or cup. You will cut the waste and, at most locations, get a discount.