Thursday, January 30, 2014

5 Ideas For Eco-friendly College Students

Many students living on campus feel as though taking a mindful approach to environmental stewardship is outside of their control.  This feeling is because the campus has its own programs in place and the student doesn’t have any say in how they are operated.  However, here at College Go Green we want to share a few ideas on what students can do and how they can incorporate more green practices into their everyday lives.

1.    Some campuses will have an environmental club and if not consider organizing classmates together to start one. This way awareness, eco-friendly habits, and daily choices can be advocated for and the campus as a whole can progress towards being more environmentally friendly. Plus, colleges and universities appreciate the initiative and may help to support the spread of ideas.  Many campuses are planning to go green to improve their business practices and improve the reputation and appearance of the school.
2.    Lots of old items like furniture, paper, and class supplies are thrown into dumpsters at the end of the semester.  Most of these items are in good condition but the owners have no more use for them or space in storage. In this situation consider recycling them by giving them to underclassmen, donating them to a Good Will store, or by selling them on Craigslist.
3.    Since electric bills don’t get paid from out of pocket, many disregard their use of lights and electronics.  More often than not, this leads to unnecessary energy waste and increases carbon emissions tremendously.  Lights, computers and other electronics should be turned off when not in the room and or in use.  Imagine how much energy is saved collectively when everyone on campus participates in this green practice.  It might even help decrease tuition but don’t count on it.
4.    In the dining hall, avoid the plastics. Those to-go trays and containers only get used once, maybe twice, and are usually discarded. They are convenient when running to class or back to your dorm but only use them when necessary and if possible repurpose them. Disposable utensils, plates and bowls are thrown away after one use. These petroleum products remain in landfills for decades after.  Eating in the dining hall and using reusable plates and metal forks that can be washed and reduces waste and is a more sustainable practice.
5.    Last but not least, ask dining services if they are making green choices.  A school can provide revenue for those local or organic foods suppliers that are typically struggling.  The environment, student health, and the local farming economy all benefit. In addition, switching to energy saving practices like efficient light bulbs and low-flow water dispensers can also have tremendous reduction on the campuses impact.

What many find is that these ideas have already been thought of but no one has been willing to take up the hard work needed to implement and follow through.  This is the perfect opportunity to practice leadership and stewardship.  From personal experience I know that taking on these task leads to unexpected benefits like internships and scholarships because professors take note of those students that step up and have an impact.