Sustainability Initiatives

Sustainability is an ever-growing collaboration on campus to build healthy, fair, and resilient systems that help everyone thrive. By working together, USD aims to grow and become a more sustainable university.

Bike Share

The Muenster University Center offers a fleet of red bicycles that students may check out for free from the front desk. Biking is a great way to get around! If you have your own bicycle, you may register it at the University Police Department for peace of mind.

Vermillion Community

Our community features the Vermillion Area Farmers Market, Vermillion Community Garden, Heikes Family Farm CSA, Missouri Valley Recycling Center, Spirit Mound Historic Prairie, and Missouri National Recreational River. Visit Greening Vermillion's website to learn about other off-campus opportunities.

Move-Out Donation Days

Move-Out Donation Days helps prevent usable items from going to the landfill when students move out at the end of the year.  This event provides students convenient donation options that show the benefits of reuse, waste reduction and local donation.


Campus dining strives for sustainability through responsible sourcing, plant-based options, waste reduction, and more. Learn more about dining commitments here.

Buildings & Grounds

Our Facilities Management staff maintain water bottle refill stations in every building, use green cleaning practices, and continually work to improve energy efficiency. We are a certified Tree Campus, and our landscaping includes attractive and drought-tolerant native prairie plants.


USD is a member of Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability (UMACS), and Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN). Students are encouraged participate in conferences and events through these organizations.


We are the only school in the region offering degrees in Sustainability from a minor through a PhD. Many courses are open to students of all majors. Learn more about the Department of Sustainability & Environment.


Students run our campus recycling program for paper, cardboard, cartons, cans, tubs, jugs, bottles, and jars. Watch what happens to our recyclable materials here. Learn more or submit a recycling request on Coyote One Stop. Check Coyote Careers for recycling job openings - it's a great opportunity for students to earn money, gain work experience, and reduce waste.

Cangleska Wakan (Sacred Hoop aka Medicine Wheel)

There are countless teachings of the Cangleska (Sacred Hoop aka "Medicine Wheel") according to the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota culture, which have been utilized for generations by various tribes throughout North America. The visual and written interpretation by Damon P. Leader Charge, Sicangu Oglala Lakota, of the University of South Dakota, is posted in campus buildings and represents an interconnectedness of all life. The design includes a clockwise circle/cycle, the seven directions, the cardinal colors, and the seven traditional values - attaining an understanding of these values is a lifelong process ensuring we are living as an exceptional relative. Using these values as foundational teachings for decision-making purposes will make our lives meaningful and prosperous. Ultimately, the goal is living our life with Wolakota • Wodakota • Wonakota - in balance, harmony, and peace. It is a traditional way of life from our original thought and philosophy guaranteeing the future of our nations.

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