The Resource Efficiency Program (REP) is a peer education program based in Harvard's undergraduate Houses and Dorms.

REP representatives, REPs for short, educate their peers on issues such as energy, waste, water, food, and more through fun, personal, community-building events, competitions, and campaigns.

Additionally, REPs advocate for programmatic efforts such as recycling, swapping light bulbs for energy-efficient LEDs, and reducing food waste. The program also works with the administration to make facilities and operations more sustainable. If you have an idea or just want to get involved contact your House or Yard REP.

REP Programs and Campaigns

Green Cup Competition for the Houses

Green Cup is an inter-House competition that runs throughout the academic year. There are three categories that each carry a cash prize—Participation, Resource Conservation, and Greenest House Committee (Green HoCo)—plus an awesome, giant trophy for the overall winner.

Participation: (40% of overall score)

  • Recycling Challenge
  • Pre-break Pledge
  • Carbon footprint evaluation
  • Green Toon Contest
  • And more!

Resource Conservation: (30% of overall score)

  • Electricity reduction
  • Trash minimization & Recycling Rate
  • Food waste minimization
  • Dishware retention

Green HoCo: (30% of overall score)

Green HoCo Form

Green Goblet Competition for the Yard

Green Goblet is a brand new competition among the Yard dormitories. It will focus on participation challenges:

  • Recycling Challenge
  • Trayless participation
  • Pre-break pledge
  • Carbon Footprint Evaluation
  • GreenToon Cartoon Contest

The winning dorm will earn a special study break and some sweet swag.

Waste: Recycling 

Recycling Challenge

The first leg of the participation segment of Green Cup is the Recycling Challenge, an online quiz that tests participants’ knowledge of single stream recycling, as well as compost and e-waste. Each year, the Houses and Dorms compete to see who can achieve the best participation rate for a three-week participation period. 

Take the challenge 

Mount Trashmore and Waste Audits

Every year, REPs construct Mount Trashmore, a visual display of one day’s worth of trash from the Yard. REPs staff the display to share recycling tips, fun facts, and the results from the year’s trash audit. Can you guess how much of the College’s trash is recyclable? The answer might scare you!

Percentage of trash by mass over the years

  1998 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Recyclables 51% 45% 31% 32% 25% 41% 34% 44%
Compostables             29% 30%
Reusables     11% 12% 6% 4% 8% 4%

Most Missed: 

  • Compost: Compostable plastic cutlery and paper towel and napkins can be composted, if available.
  • Recycling: Aluminum foil and empty pizza boxes can be recycled. 



Electronic waste recycling includes batteries, phones, chargers, light bulbs—anything to do with electricity. Find blue e-waste tubes to recycle your e-waste in:

  • House Building Manager’s office
  • Yard trash/recycling rooms
  • Academic, administrative, and lab buildings

Learn more

Waste: Reuse

Freecycle Areas

Freecycling is like recycling, but better! The idea is to donate and share reusable items within a community, like your House or Dorm. If you have a reusable item you no longer need, leave it on the Freecycle shelf. If you are in need of something, look for it on the Freecycle shelf (every House and Dorm has one!). Can't find it? Ask your REP.
Learn more

Habitat Donations

REP will facilitate Harvard Habitat for Humanity donations at the end of each academic year. If you have something reusable you no longer need during the year, take it to the Freecycle Area.

Reusable Study Break Kit and other reusable resources

REP has many free or shared reusable resources! Contact your REP if you would like to have/borrow any of the following:

  • Reusable mugs: Ceramic mugs.
  • Reusable shopping bags: 'Sustainabilitas' bags made of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic.
  • Reusable study break kits: Contains cups, plates, and bowls (30 each).

Additionally, REP hosts frequent mug painting study breaks to ensure everyone has a reusable mug! REP also supplies reusable travel mugs to all incoming freshmen at the annual Freshmen Green Fair.

In September, the Class of 2017 received their Green ’17 mugs, signed the “I will use this mug instead of a paper cup” pledge, decorated their mugs, and then mingled with the myriad environmental clubs, concentrations, and centers on campus as they sipped fruit smoothies. The freshman mug program is a two-time award-winning partnership between REP, the FAS Office of Physical Resources and Planning, the Freshman Dean’s Office, and Harvard Dining Services.


Top 5 energy-reducing tips for Houses and Dorms

  1.  Use an LED in your desk lamp—FREE from REP! 
  2. Take shorter showers. 
  3. Wash your laundry in cold water (Bright Colors setting). 
  4. Report leaky windows, broken storm windows, and broken radiator controls. 
  5. Power down and unplug electronics when not in use, and turn off lights when you leave your room.

Learn More

REP Energy Quiz

Free LEDs

REP distributes free LED light bulbs to all undergrads for desk lamps and other task lighting. LED stands for light-emitting diode, and is the most energy-efficient bulb on the market! LEDs are 90% more efficient than incandescent bulbs, and about 15% more efficient than fluorescents. They contain no harmful gases, and can last up to 20 years! Contact your REP to request one!

Pre-break pledge

Make sure to keep your carbon footprint in check while you’re away by pledging to take energy saving actions. 

Shut down for the holidays

Shorter showers campaign

Did you know reducing your shower by one minute every day for one week will save 1,355 watts of energy used to heat the water. That's 249 iPhone charges! Would you use a shower timer if one were provided? More information about shower timers coming soon!

Green Laundry

Forget darks and lights! Every load can be GREEN! After you’ve sorted your laundry colors from whites (just kidding about forgetting to sort), fill your washer with a full load and select “Bright Colors” (regular cycle with cold water) or “Woolens” (gentle cycle with cold water). In addition to saving energy, your clothes colors will stay crisper and last longer!

Food and Dining

Sustainable Food

More than 30% of the FY12 budget for food served in dining halls was spent on locally manufactured, locally grown, fair trade or organic foods.Learn more

Food Waste Reduction

There are many ways to incorporate sustainability into your diet. One sure way to reduce your carbon footprint and conserve resources? Reduce food waste! REP partners with HUDS to do a semi-annual food waste audit. Last spring’s average waste per person was 1.28 ounces per person, per meal. Remember, you can be part of the Clean Plate Club and help us reduce food waste everyday—not just during the food waste audit!