In today’s world everyone is trying their best to reduce their carbon footprint. Going green is the newest trend to help better the world. Many students think that going off to college makes going green a challenge, but it definitely does not. Sometimes going to college actually helps you go green. Some colleges are becoming greener themselves. They are setting printers to print on both sides of the paper. Their cafeterias are offering reusable to-go boxes and reusable bags to carry your lunch back to your dorm. Some, if not most, have switched to recycled napkins. Some schools use plastic-ware made from sugar cane as opposed to petroleum based plastics. They are also encouraging students to recycle, which also includes the recycling of those used books that they do not want to buy back at the end of the semester. So what are some other ways to go green on a college campus, aside from the obvious answer of recycle? Remember in elementary school there were three R’s: RECYCLE, REUSE, REDUCE? You can put these other two R’s into action in college.
First rule: Do not throw away good stuff. You might not like the computer chair that your mom sent along with you and you found a new one cheap at Target. Instead of dumping your old one at the curb or nearest dumpster, post an ad for it on Craigslist or Freecycle. For every ‘you’ that is dumping a chair, there are fifty more looking for one. Second rule you need to follow: Stop wasting paper! It might look nicer if you do your notes only on one side of the paper, but it’s very wasteful. Use the front and back of your pages; it cuts down dramatically on your paper waste at the end of the semester. If you have boxes, toilet tissue rolls, paper towel rolls, you may even have about eight hundred rubber bands, and some cans, but nothing to do with them. Well, there is a solution for your problem, actually make that two solutions. You can easily take these unwanted items to the art department. Ask around and see if there are others that might be in need of your “junk.” Artists of many mediums can turn your junk into art. Do you have pens and pencils laying everywhere? Use the cans as pencil holders. You want to get really creative, decorate them and give them as cheap little gifts to your friends. In fact, if you have some nice coffee cans with lids, you can use them as tins for cookies that you bake for your friends. Also, one big way to go green and to save some green is to buy used books. Used books might have a few flaws, maybe some highlighter, but they are cheaper and more environmentally friendly. There is also a good chance that the person who sold the book back had the intention of getting some money back, so they left the book flawless. Which, you can of course sell your used books back to the bookstore to keep the cycle going.
Reducing is probably the hugest category and the biggest way to make an impact. While recycling and reusing are wonderful, the act of reducing eliminates a substantial amount more waste. Why you ask? Simple answer, if you reduce the waste to begin with, you will not have to worry about the other two Rs!
First thing to remember about reducing is that production of goods increases waste. Do not be afraid to hit up local thrift stores to buy some items that you might need for a dorm. Try and buy green items from the beginning. There are plenty of stores that sell organic and recycled goods that have been made in a green manner. Think about what you need and buy only what you need. There is no good reason to buy unnecessary items just to have them. Try and just stick to the basics instead of going overboard. If you are someone who likes to have a drink all the time, buy a reusable bottle. Many college bookstores sell reusable drink-ware with the college logo, so they are a good way to support your college while going green.
Many college students have no choice but to do some grocery shopping. You need to have snacks for those all nighters, especially if your campus does not have 24-hour access to food. When you head over to the grocery store, you can continue being green by taking a canvas grocery bag. If you do not already own one, many grocery stores sell their own with a store logo or cutesy design on them for a small fee. Try your best to buy local. Locally grown items are not shipped very far, so they greatly cut down on fuel waste. They might be slightly more expensive, but in the long run they are both supporting the cause and they are supporting local farmers.
While there are many other ways to go green on a college campus, these are some of the biggest ways you can help.