The leaves aren’t quite turning color and falling off the trees yet (except the ones dying from the higher than average heat), but another clear indicator for the fall season has arrived – the beginning of the school year.
Whether your favorite students are packing up for their annual university road trip or still riding the bus, there are several ways that they can contribute to a greener world. Today we’ll focus on 10 ways your college student can go green!
Watch What You Eat & Drink
Granted, many college students are limited in their dining options, especially their freshman year of college. But even if you are stuck with the dining hall all year, there are some choices you can make.
- Grab Reusable Water Bottles
Save money and the environment. Let’s face it, even if you aren’t in Michigan, nobody wants to drink tap water anymore. But there are more options now than when your parents went to school. Instead of buying case after case of bottled water, invest in a reusable BPA-Free bottle (or two). Most schools now boast filtered water stations specifically designed for filling water bottles. And if your school doesn’t, for a few dollars more, you can screw a filter onto your faucet or use a Brita pitcher to get rid of the impurities and extra fluoride.
- Eat Less Meat
You want to stay healthy by eating more green leafy vegetables anyway, right? Nobody likes to admit they’ve fallen prey to the dreaded ‘freshmen fifteen.’ Along with cutting back on fried foods, starches and visits to the ever present dessert station, ease up on your meat consumption. You still need some for protein, unless you’re going full vegan, but not as much as you may think. And even skipping meat for just one meal a day can significantly reduce greenhouse gasses from filling the environment. The people in Wisconsin and California will thank you.
- Look for Sustainable Options
This may be harder to accomplish in the school cafeteria, but you can always make an effort. Look for locally-grown vegetables and fruits, sustainable seafood and brands that are known for being free-range friendly. Plus, supporting local farmers and fishermen will mean less transportation costs and fuel expended.
Save More Energy
- Set your thermostat higher.
Let’s be honest, can you really tell the temperature difference between 70 and 72? 80 and 78? But by adjusting even that tiny bit, you help save the environment, and reduce the school’s expense for electricity by 1-3% a day. Maybe they won’t lower your tuition, but those extra dollars can add up to better adjunct professors or added services in the Student Union.
- Use energy efficient light bulbs.
Yes, we know the school pays for the electric and they were already nice enough to supply light bulbs. And if they’re CFL’s or LED’s, just thank them and move on. But if they’re not, swap them out for your own energy saving bulbs and remember, you went to college to try and make a difference in the world. At the end of the year, you can put them back – or save the next student in your room the trouble.
- Power down.
Turn off the lights when you leave the room – including the ones in the laundry and other common rooms. If you flipped the switch on, flip it off when you leave, unless someone else is in the room. Most of our computers and phones are programmed to stop sucking juice when they’re fully charged, but double check your devices to make sure.
- Follow the usual Green Practices.
Most of us are used to recycling now. Don’t stop just because you’re not living with your parents. Take advantage of dual-purpose trash cans, Big Belly solar recycling units, or the Reverse Vending Machines many schools have installed on campus. Also bring your reusable bags when you do venture into local shopping centers. And embrace the college lifestyle – buy less and borrow from your neighbors. Most textbooks aren’t in e-form yet, but your music, movies and most other books are.
Spend More Energy (the Right Way)
- Try healthier, alternative travel methods.
Who needs a car, right? Okay, sometimes you do, but most college cities have a decent public transit system. The school itself might even have one. But for shorter trips, walk or bicycle. Your body needs the exercise, you’ll feel healthier and you’ll be doing your part for the environment.
- Take electronic notes.
They’re called notebook computers for a reason! You can type or hand scribe notes on most tablets these days – or even record the whole lecture if it’s going too fast or too dense. Plus, with ease of sharing via email, Bluetooth, and the Cloud, you can quickly exchange notes, build collaborative flash cards and more. And you won’t get that nasty spiral groove in your forearm.
- Be aware of your chemical footprint.
Avoid aerosol sprays. Even though they’ve improved the process since your parents were spritzing their big 80’s hair with Aquanet, pump sprays are still better for the environment. Also, look for environmentally responsible brand labels. Body care, beauty and cleaning items sporting those seals typically aren’t tested on animals and have fewer harsh chemicals for you and the world to be exposed to.
The more green practices you put into place, the more you can enjoy a guilt-free college experience!
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