A College Students Guide to Go Green
Daily transportation may not seem like a big decision, but the fact is that activity patterns do add up and affect the environment. With that said, there are many eco-friendly ways in which college students can get around campus, including walking, riding a bicycle, rollerblading and skateboarding. Not only do these alternative forms of transportation make a positive difference on our environment, but they additionally offer many health and economical benefits as well.
You may also reduce your ecological footprint by reducing your use of water. You should turn off the faucet when you are brushing their teeth. Additionally, you can opt to take a quick shower rather than taking a bath which uses gallons of water. If you are not living on campus and yard work is your responsibility, Eartheasy recommends to reduce the amount of times you water your lawn from routinely to only when it needs it and to wash your car with a bucket of water versus using a hose.
Another way in which students can make a sustainable impact is to use a reusable water bottle instead of constantly relying on water bottles which not only require an astronomical amount of plastic. According to Greenatics, “Although bottles made from PET are recyclable, the Container Recycling Institute estimates only 21% of plastic bottles are recycled in the United States. This fills up our landfills with bottles that can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.” The benefits of reusable water bottles are varied. The first is economic: you’ll save a lot of money by using reusable water bottles versus the mainstream one time use plastic water bottles. Contrary to popular belief, bottled water is not healthier than tap water. Greenatics explains “The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that because bottled water is often stored for long periods of time, it may eventually contain more micro-organisms than tap water.” There are several types of reusable water bottles, including Polycarbonate/LEXAN bottles, stainless steel bottles, and Sigg bottles, you may also opt to reuse the common PET single use water bottles.
Recycling is an easy way to make a difference. Recycling bins are typically blue and have the universal triangle logo on them to limit recycling confusion. You should take a moment to make sure that you are putting applicable recyclables in the recycling bins as well as making sure not to put garbage in the recycling bins which could contaminate the whole load. By recycling, you’re also helping our economy. According to Hevia, “Recycling, a $256 billion-a
year industry, is responsible for over 1 million jobs in the United States.”
Another way in which college students can go green is to study outside when weather permits and open your blinds to use natural sunlight during the day. Not only is natural light good for the environment, but studies show it is actually stimulating to the mind as well. According to green writer Shapley, “Studies in recent years have shown that natural light, if it is allowed to stream into schools and workplaces, is correlated with higher test scores and happier and more productive workers.”
Turning off your lights is an easy way to reduce energy. The NRDC suggests working with natural daylight, noting that, “A typical commercial building uses more energy for lighting than anything else.” According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, “Unfortunately, most of these lamps have been improperly collected as municipal waste and dumped in ordinary sanitary landfills. When broken, these lamps release mercury and other metals that damage the environment.” There are many florescent lamp recycling facilities available throughout the state.
Another way you can make a difference is by eating naturally grown food rather than processed food. Processed food is not only unhealthy but also requires a lot of energy through production and distribution. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection urges not to eat canned food, “avoid canned food as much as possible. Canned food may leach Bisphenol-A, (BPA) which prevents the cans from rusting and extends shelf life. If you buy canned food, look for "BPA-free" on the label.”
Another way to support sustainability is to donate unwanted clothing to charitable organizations which will distribute the clothing to those in need to reuse the clothing. You can also have swap parties and trade unwanted clothing with other students to make use of unwanted clothing. Additionally, you can sew and alter clothing in a fun and innovative way such as turning a pair of old jeans from the fall into a cute new skirt for the summer. There are many creative and sustainable ways in which students can reuse unwanted clothing. Another easy change you can make to support sustainability is by wearing natural clothing textiles such as organic cotton, silk, wool and linen/
When shopping for school supplies, you should try to make a conscious effort to support recycled products, including notebooks, paper, pencils and rulers, to name a few. You can also make a sustainable impact by selling back their textbooks and buying used books. Students should purchase items that are sold in the least amount of packaging as possible to reduce unnecessary waste.
Another way in which you can reduce your ecological footprint is by reducing your use of paper. There are many ways in which you can reduce their paper waste. Try to avoid printing assignments and instead submit papers electronically. Students should also remove themselves from unwanted mailing lists by unsubscribing at the bottom of emails or calling the distributor.
When going shopping, you can bring reusable bags to the store rather than receiving many plastic bags which are harmful to the environment. According to Hevia, “Worldwide, annually, we consume 500 billion plastic bags, which required 60 million barrels of oil to make.” Students should avoid using disposable products such as paper plates and plastic utensils all together and invest in reusable dishware. Although it may seem cheap and easier to provide disposable cups and plates at parties they equate to a lot of waste. According to MacEachern, “In 2005, Americans used and discarded 14.1 billion disposable paper cups for hot beverages, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters of Vermont calculated.” (130) Therefore, by investing in reusable mugs and coffee cups we will significantly reduce our waste
College students oftentimes use a lot of electronics. To be ecological you should unplug electronics you’re not using. According to the NRDC, “Allowing your computer to hibernate saves energy and is more time-efficient than shutting down and restarting your computer from scratch.” They also suggest turning off your computer completely once you are done for the day. It is important to be aware of how to properly dispose of their electronics. Many websites will pay you to mail them your electronics that are no longer in use.
It is important to recycle batteries which contain toxic metals. Many colleges offer students drop off spots to recycle unwanted batteries Investing in rechargeable batteries for longevity is a sustainable choice. If your school does not provide you with a waste station and you do not have access to big city waste collection spots contact your schools sustainability coordinator and recommend they start one or contact local officials to find out their policies on battery collection.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has banned several items from landfills including televisions, computers, and digital video disc recorders to name a few. The EPA explains that the electronic retailer should be a primary source when looking to discard of unwanted electronics. There are penalties that face offenders who do not comply with these discard regulations. When in doubt refer to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website for guidelines.
There are numerous ways in which college students can go green and make a sustainable impact by adapting these changes into their daily routines. You can reduce their ecological footprint by walking to class or taking public transportation as opposed to driving. You should make a conscious effort to reduce their use of water and lighting. Investing in a reusable water bottle is both economical as well as environmental. There are many recycling bins available around campus and students have a choice to properly dispose of their recyclables. As temping as fast food may seem, you should try to make healthy eating choices and avoid meat. You can donate or swap unwanted clothing. Supporting recycled and used school books makes a sustainable difference. Students should try to limit their amount of paper use and avoid printing emails. Make sure to properly follow their state electronic and battery guidelines to avoid possible fines. If you go green and make these changes in your daily lives, you will make a sustainable impact in persevering our planet for future generations.