There’s a lot to think about when you set off for college for the first time, and one important consideration you might want to make is how to live greener there. Independence comes with social responsibility, and if you think smart – and green – you can make a difference, and maybe enjoy doing so, too. Here are 7 tips for green campus living.
We all know it’s quicker to throw packaging, or a paper or plastic coffee cup, in the bin than to rinse it out and recycle it, but recycling is one of the easiest ways to help the environment. No doubt your campus will have recycling hubs, acquaint yourself with these and what gets recycled where, then get organised with your dorm mates and work together to get this vitally important chore done. Reuse items, especially plastics, where you can, too e.g. plastic tubs and boxes, which can be re-used for storage.
2. Use less paper
You’re a student, yes, but unlike students in the pre-computer age, you don’t have to get through reams and reams of paper. Use digital versions of research where you can and submit your assignments by email. You can also use the back of paper that has been printed on for making notes and buy recycled notebooks and ledgers. “Keep your paper trail low,” says Tom R. Buchanan, a writer on all things green at Bigassignments and State Of Writing. “Think about reducing your paper use in your dorm, too, by grabbing a cloth or a rag instead of kitchen paper to mop up spills.”
3. Use less plastics
We all know how catastrophic the build of up landfill plastics is, and how they are choking our oceans. Ditch your disposal plastic bottled water (some schools have banned the use of bottled water altogether) and invest in a reusable drinking bottle. Take your own reusable cup to the coffee shop – some outlets will give you a discount if you do – and always ask for paper, not plastic, bags in stores.
4. Ditch your car
A car is convenient at college for getting you from A to B, but it’s a much better for the planet to get on your bike, or travel on foot. Walking or cycling means less pollution, of course, but there are other benefits like fresh air, exercise and boosts in mental health. If you must travel by car, make sure to carpool or ride share.
5. Buy in thrift shops
There are so many ways to be thrifty when it comes to the things you buy. For furniture, consider buying from a second-hand store, reusing, or upcycling pieces, or even keep your eye on the sidewalk for furniture being moved on by students when vacating their dorms and apartments. Shop local where you can, to reduce your carbon footprint. Buy your clothes second hand or vintage from thrift stores, too, or from eBay or Depop. “Another thing to think about when it comes to your carbon footprint,” says Sian Williams, an eco-blogger at Assignment Help and Revieweal, “is not ordering college supplies online to be delivered, but shopping local for everything you need when you arrive at college.”
6. Cook from scratch
Wasting food is not cool these days. Food landfills rots and produces methane gas, harmful to the planet, so think smart, shop smart, and eat smart. Plan your meals, shop for food carefully, without wastage, compost your leftovers, and check use by dates on all provisions.
7. Avoid water waste
It’s easy to avoid wasting water, if you think about the simple things. Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth, take shorter showers, save your laundry until there’s enough for a full load, and if there’s any drips from faucets in your dorm or apartment, get them fixed!
With some thought and an open mind, it’s entirely possible to live a green lifestyle at college, in and around campus – probably saving yourself some money in the process. With these small and simple green steps in your college life, you could make a big difference in the wider world.
Jenny Han is a writer who blogs about green living.