UCSF Sustainability Stories

2021 Earth Month Challenge

This year we challenge you to focus on education and actions that inspire, realize, and reinforce LivingGreen.

Celebrate Earth Month with two months of helpful tips and inspiring events. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re a veteran green champion or just starting your green journey. You’ll save money, meet like-minded folks, and win some cool prizes along the way. Get started by reviewing facts and tips on our Earth Month 2021 page.

Here’s how the challenge works:

Hydrp garden

Completing more events and actions will put you at a higher prize category. It’s that simple.

  • Complete at least 7 Actions + 1 Event (live or recorded) for a chance to win one of twenty gift cards to FastPay or Farm Fresh To You ($20 value each).
  • Complete at least 8 Actions + 2 Events (live or recorded) for a chance to win one of five tabletop hydroponic gardens (up to $75 value each). Hydroponic garden example on the right. The exact model may vary.

Keep track of your progress!
Bookmark this link to keep track of your activities and events as you go. Just don’t clear your cache. Please submit your survey by Friday, May 28.

Fill out the form for a chance to win >>>


  1. Join the new UCSF LivingGreen Network on Microsoft Teams and post a question, photo, or comment about what you’re doing to live green. Use code 0ax0jim.
  3. Acknowledge a colleague for their sustainable action on UCSF Recognize. Make sure to select the “Sustainability” behavior when using the Digital Card. Who did you acknowledge?
  5. Take a 3-minute shower. California is in a long-term drought. Reducing your running water time from 20 to 3 minutes will save 26 gallons of water each time you shower!
  7. Make one ingredient substitution to reduce your carbon “foodprint”. Compare the carbon impact scores of different foods. What ingredient substitution did you make?
  9. Commit to a Meatless Monday. Tip: Use the weekend to plan your vegetarian meals ahead of time. Up for a bigger challenge? Try the opposite – go Meatful Monday and eat meat ONLY on Mondays! Was it harder or easier than you expected?
  11. Leave the webcam off during a Zoom call – it’s better for the environment and your health. When you go on a videocall or stream Netflix, you are using energy, water, and land area to transfer internet data. A recent published study showed that keeping your camera off for an hour-long call can avoid these environmental impacts by 96%. Turning off your video also helps you reduce Zoom fatigue. Check out UCSF’s Virtual Meeting Wellness Guide.
  13. Green your home with green power. For both renters or homeowners, signing up for renewable energy is easier and cheaper than you think. Check out this list of Community Choice Aggregate program, which deliver renewable energy to you through PG&E. In which Community Choice Aggregate programs did you enroll?
  15. Try a food-saving technique. Our food system counts for about a third of global greenhouse gases, so don’t let it go to waste! See all the tricks. Which tip did you find most useful?
  17. Grow your own produce. Whether you have a backyard, balcony, or windowsill, gardening is a great way to lower stress and connect with the environment. Start small with leftover veggie scraps in water or plant some fast-growing radishes in a container. Learn from last year’s Earth Day Challenge winner and other resources to get you started. What did you decide to grow?
  19. Unplug yourself for an hour. Turn off all non-essential screens, computers, phones, lights, and any electronics at home. During this hour, you can read, write, stretch, exercise, meditate - anything that doesn't require electricity.
    Bonus: PG&E customers can sign up for OhmConnect and get paid to unplug for certain hours!
  21. Set aside time to destress and appreciate nature. Practice “forest bathing” or take a walk outside for at least 30 minutes. How did you go about it?
  23. Reflect on how climate change affects you. Listen to other people’s climate stories from across the country and world. Do any of their stories resonate with you? If you have a story of your own, would you be willing to share with UCSF in the future?
  25. Calculate your carbon footprint to determine your impact on climate change. What was your score?
  27. Do your spring cleaning with safe ingredients. Check out DIY cleaning recipes with common pantry staples such as vinegar and baking soda. See here for additional green cleaning options. What did you use?
  29. Prepare for wildfire smoke. As we continue to face a drought, it’s always good to be ready for wildfire season. Learn how to protect your health.
  31. Take a Home Water audit. This year, San Francisco only received 37% of normal rainfall. This 12-question survey will score your water-wisdom and help you find opportunities to save water around your home. What was your score?
  33. Subscribe to the Office of Sustainability’s LivingGreen newsletter to stay updated on UCSF’s environmental news and events all year long.
  35. Avoid buying new. Was there something you originally set out to buy? Try fixing it or repurposing another item to meet your needs. Your neighbors will often give away free items that they no longer need – find them through your local Buy Nothing Project, Craigslist.com, Olio, or the NextDoor app. SF and Oakland also have lending libraries, where you can borrow toys, tools, and gardening seeds! How did you avoid your purchase?
  37. Choose local over online shopping. We all want to reduce our packaging waste during the pandemic. Unfortunately, there’s no way around it! If you must buy something new, check for the product in your local store first. Purchase online as your last resort and skip the expedited shipping.
  39. Learn to spot the greenwash. "Greenwashing" is when a company or product deceptively markets itself as environmentally friendly. Read this article to learn which key greenwashing terms to watch out for so you can be an informed consumer.



(*hosted by Office of Sustainability)

*May 12, 2pm
Learn from the Leaders: A Fireside Chat with UCSF’s Green Champions

May 20, 2:30-4pm
Now, More Than Ever: Movement Building for Climate, Racial, and Health Justice

*May 27, 10am-1pm (in-person event)
Free E-waste and Styrofoam Drop-Off at Parnassus

These Earth Month events have passed, but you can watch the recording to qualify for the prizes:

April 15, 2:30- 4pm
Converging Threats, Cascading Health Risks: Climate Change, Food Security, and Migration

*April 20, noon
Building Leadership Skills Through Sustainability During Covid-19

*April 22, 10am-1pm (in-person event)
Free E-waste and Styrofoam Drop-Off at Mt. Zion

April 22-23
UC Center for Climate Justice Launch Event

*April 28, 12pm-1pm
UCSF Earth Day Town Hall

April 28-May 1
Climate Justice Symposium for Transforming Education

April 29, noon
Climate Conversations: Climate and Health on a Global Scale .

*April 30, noon
Tackling Our Climate Health Crisis with Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) at UCSF and Beyond

*May 4, noon
Play Jeopardy! Sorting Campus Waste

*May 6, noon
Play Jeopardy! Sorting Healthcare Waste