Four Ways To Go Green At College


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It wasn’t until I became a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin that I became a much more green-savvy person.

For years, I had taken advantage of all the countless energy sources at my disposal. Throughout my young-adulthood, I never recycled, devoured numerous packaged, processed foods, left the lights on all night, took 30-plus-minute showers, and embraced numerous other wasteful habits. Things turned around for me though when I met my green-conscious freshman roommate.

At first, she and I butted heads about our different lifestyles, but after a few heart-to-heart talks about green lifestyles, I realized that my roommate wasn’t trying to show off: she was simply trying to make less of a waste impact on the world. With her help, I embraced some green-friendly lifestyle habits that helped me become much less wasteful. Below are four of the most useful tips she gave me to go green at college.

Buy local food

Not only does buying local food help build small economies, it’s also good for the environment. If you look hard enough, you’ll likely find a farmers market close to your campus that sells local, fresh food. Some people choose not to buy local in the fear that it will cost too much money. Yet even if local food is more expensive, its benefits are too great to be overlooked: local food cuts down on mass food transportation, which pollutes the environment, helps build local farming communities, builds direct connections between farmers and their consumers, and, frankly, tastes much better. Where could you go wrong?

Use an e-reader

Every time I see students rushing their way to bookstores to buy new, 500-plus-page textbooks, I want to cry. Not only is buying a new textbook expensive, it’s an absolute waste of ink and paper. Nowadays, textbooks are being converted into e-reader forms so that students can access them on their Kindles, iPads, Nooks, and numerous other electronic-reading devices. Before you set your sights on buying a new textbook, check and see if the book is accessible in an e-reader form. They’ll be cheaper and make much less of an impact on the environment.

go green at college

Seek out recycling bins

Whenever I’m in a rush, I’m always tempted to throw my recyclables right into the trash, but I always stop myself from doing so, knowing that I’ll regret it later. In college, especially, I had a tough time accessing recycling bins around my campus. Although it might not be the most convenient thing to find, always seek out recycling bins if you have recyclable items to get rid of. Although you might not feel like you’re making the biggest difference in the world in recycling small items, remember, a handful of little efforts always add up to something much greater.

Ride a bike to campus

I got tired of driving my car to campus day after day, so I decided to invest in two wheels instead of four. Not only did riding a bike to campus allow me to get exercise and save on gas money, I significantly reduced my energy footprint. If your campus is bike-friendly, consider investing in a safe, efficient bike to get you to and from campus. Your wallet and the environment will thank you for it!

College is the perfect time to consider how you can reduce your overall energy consumption. Whether you’re recycling, biking, using an e-reader, or buying local, you can make a difference.

Go Sign image from BigStock.

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  1. These are all good ideas, I didn’t know you could purchase etextbooks, that’s great and would definitely lighten the load both for the environment but your arms/back lugging those books around.

    One thing not mentioned in the post is that you can save a lot of money and be green by furnishing your apartment or dorm with second hand furnishings. I live in a college town where perfectly good furniture, bought new, is tossed at the curb when students leave.

  2. Interesting thoughts, but I must respectfully disagree that e-books are more green or socially responsible than a textbook. Bloomberg Businessweek had a recent article regarding the cost of lives of producing Ipads and other e readers in mines. Also the natural cost of mining and the relatively large amount of precious metals causes the overall cost of electronics to increase dramatically. On the other hand, a book is produced from a renewable resource, though some books are not produced in an environmentally conscious method. Add on that most students resell and purchase used books over a number of years, and that many colleges currently have text book recycle programs and programs that donate the books to charities that can use them, textbooks are by far the best method for school.

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