global warming

How to “Go Green” in College

One of the biggest challenges that we’re facing today is the environmental danger to our planet. Global warming, climate change, and plastic pollution have become topics we hear about regularly in the news. 

By developing sustainable habits early, you can help to reduce greenhouse gases and your carbon footprint to make a less harmful impact on the environment.

What Does Go Green Mean? 

“Going green” means to pursue knowledge and practices that can lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions and lifestyles. Going green can help protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for current and future generations.

Ways to Go Green 

Adopting a greener approach to life doesn’t have to be difficult. There are small changes you can implement into your daily life that take little to no time or effort and can help create a healthier society that both consumes less and produces less waste. 

Here are 7 easy ways you can live sustainably (greener) in college:

  1. Ditch Single-Use Plastic for Eco-Friendly Products

This is one small, but hugely impactful step that you can take to reduce the strain the environment caused by plastics. Single-use utensils, plates, boxes and containers are all around us, especially in college.

Make a point to replace single-use plastic products with their reusable equivalents. For example, purchase a reusable BPA-free water bottle.

According to The Water Project, it’s estimated that up to 80 percent of plastic water bottles in the United States never get recycled. In addition, it takes three times the amount of water that’s in a water bottle to create the bottle in the first place! The Water Project also notes that U.S. landfills are overflowing with 2 million tons of discarded water bottles alone. 

The same goes for disposable coffee cups. Though it may be more convenient, those waxed paper cups aren’t recyclable, and will just end up in the landfill after you’re done with them. So carry a second bottle or reusable mug with you for your hot beverages – some places even offer a discount on your order for opting out of the cup.

Similar to the plastic water bottles, plastic bags are non-biodegradable objects. Consider switching to a reusable bag, often made from organic materials such as cotton, wool and hemp. 

With some states charging for plastic bags, reusable tote bags have become an excellent substitute, as they are cheaper in the long run. These bags can also be more spacious and stronger than plastic bags! Don’t stop there – eco-friendly products for college students are readily available. 

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! 

Recycling is the cornerstone of caring for the environment through a daily habit.

Most colleges have recycling bins scattered around the campus, so find the closest one to you and regularly visit the bin and recycle your stacks of paper. If you don’t have access to a recycling bin, contact your administration and find out where the nearest drop-off is – and encourage them to install more blue bins around campus while you’re at it.

You know the old saying, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Well, it is often true. Don’t throw away perfectly good things just because you’re sick of them, or no longer have use for them. You can host clothing swaps with friends, or give your unwanted, gently used clothing and furniture another life by donating or selling them instead of throwing them away.

Upcycling is a creative way to make old items into something more valuable. This could be reusing a jam jar as a candle holder, or using old tins as plant pots – the possibilities are endless! If you’re not sure how to start, there are numerous websites, blogs and forums where you can pick up interesting ideas for breathing new life into your old, used objects.

  1. Watch Your Water Usage 

Remember that old adage, “save some for the fish?” You can do this in your daily life by turning off water while brushing your teeth, washing your face or shaving. 

In addition, cutting down your shower time can save more water and make a bigger impact than you’d think. It’s estimated that, using an average number of 2.5 gallons per minute from the typical shower head, reducing your shower length by 4 minutes per day would save 3,650 gallons per year. 

  1. Cut Down on Paper 

Think about how much paper you use during the semester – class notes, assignments, tests, and so on.

Cutting paper usage is one of the main areas where college students can save money and the environment. The less you need to restock your paper supplies, the better. A few simple tips to get started:

  • Always use the front and back of your paper when writing notes 
  • Avoid taking handfuls of paper napkins from the cafeteria
  • Clean up spills using a dish cloth instead of a paper towel
  • When printing, save misprints by always double checking the document you’re printing
  • If you do make a mistake, either recycle the paper or use the back for scrap paper for notes, writing down ideas, etc
  • For those who write notes on paper, make a point to buy recycled material notebooks 
  1. Mind Your Transportation 

Transportation is considered to be one of the main contributors to climate change and carbon emissions. That’s why you can choose to use environment-friendly transportation means as a college student – like walking or riding a bike. 

Bikeshare programs are becoming more common, both on campuses and off. Find out whether your school has such a program. If not, there may be another local option, or you may want to get involved in setting the wheels in motion for a bikeshare initiative at your campus. Walking or riding a bike helps reduce carbon emissions and keeps you in great shape, too! 

  1. Always Power Down

Our chargers and small appliances suck up standby power even when not in use. To cut down on wasted electricity, when you’re not using appliances or you leave the room – be sure to turn off lights and other electronics. An easy way to implement this is by connecting your electronics to a surge protector and flipping the switch when you leave the room. Also, your electric bill will thank you!

Bonus tip: try using energy-efficient light bulbs instead of regular bulbs. They last longer, which will save you a bit of money too.

  1. Meatless Monday

Did you know that raising and preparing meat produces between 10 and 40 times more greenhouse gas emissions than growing and harvesting vegetables and grains? This doesn’t mean you have to go vegan – just cutting back on your consumption of meat and dairy can go a long way in supporting a healthy world.

Eating less meat – even omitting it from your meal one day each week – can positively influence change. When you do eat meat, look for labels that specify free range, organic and hormone and antibiotic free. There are resources to help you find sustainable food locally so you know exactly where your food is coming from – especially since it can not only affect the environment, but your health as well.

In Conclusion

By striving to make small but efficient changes in your routine, you can lower your environmental impact, lower your bills, and incorporate more eco-friendly practices in your life! Earth is our home, so it’s important to protect it, respect it, and celebrate it with our everyday actions and thoughts.  

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

References:

  1. https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/carbon-
  2. https://www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/going-green-at-school/
  3. https://gosunbolt.com/green-campus-sustainability-ideas/ 
  4. https://www.sustainabilitydegrees.com/the-ultimate-how-to-guide-for-students/
  5. https://www.50waystohelp.com/

The Benefits of Riding Your Bike to Class

Who needs a car when you’ve got a bike? Gas prices are climbing and they’re expected to reach $5 per gallon or more. That’s just crazy. And I’m sure you’ve heard of another little thing that’s going around called global warming. What’s going on with our environment is just crazy too. So lock up your cars and do some stretches. You’re about to be schooled in how you can change your life by simply busting out your trusty bicycle.

You’ve most likely seen someone on campus biking or skateboarding around (heck, I live in the snowiest city of the US and I still see kids biking in blizzards). Maybe you’ve made fun of them for taking up the road or for having a goofy looking bike. Perhaps you’ve mocked their helmet hair or saw them get almost hit by a bus and had a mini heart attack—and don’t let this turn you off to bike riding; only the bikers not paying attention get in the way of a bus (crazies!). Laugh all you want because those foot pedalers are saving green in more ways than one.

Bike riding is good for you and the environment. You’ve likely heard all this before. Oh, I can build some muscles if I ride my bike for half an hour today. I won’t pollute the earth if I leave behind my car for this shopping trip. You think you can’t really make a difference. You think biking won’t really make a difference in your life. Err, wrong!

For starters, riding a bike can make a test day tolerable. By cycling to class on a fine morning, your stress will noticeably diminish. And if you keep this up every day for the week, your anxiety and any depression you feel will greatly reduce. It gives you time to take in nature—or, you know, all the buildings between your apartment and campus—clear your head, take in fresh air and relax. So, really, a bike ride is like taking a mini mental health day.

By riding your bike to class, you will actually make time to exercise. It can be hard to find time to go to the gym or sign up for a workout type elective. Between homework, internships or jobs, poor campus food and a lot of your day spent sitting behind a desk, those pounds will add on without you even noticing. Biking will give you a chance to tone up your legs, get in the cardio, increase your mobility, and just make you feel better about yourself.

If you’re concerned about leaving a carbon footprint, bike riding can haul that worry away. Not only will your car not be sputtering out harmful pollutants, you’ll also use less gas overall, which is a definite benefit with the world’s problems right now. With a four mile trip, you save us all 15 pounds of pollutants. Imagine if you and everyone you knew contributed to that! Also, instead of needing new roads and driving routes, you can take a scenic route and stick to the sidewalk, helping to save materials and keep nature as it should be—without a highway cutting through it. Plus, supplies for bikes don’t require the deforestation necessary for rubber plants and bio-fuels used in other transportation methods (aka the car).

Biking can also become a great way to meet new people and enhance existing relationships. Some people don’t like to drive to a store alone. So get them to bike with you instead. Believe it or not, just seeing you bike ride every day will inspire your neighbors and others to lower their environmental impact and work out on their way to work or school. You’ll be like a modern day gang…without the bandanas and violence.

And if that wasn’t enough to convince you, think of all the traffic you can avoid, alternate routes you can take, animals you can save (especially if you’re not a good driver), and the excuse to wear tight biking shorts without feeling like a total weirdo.

Oh, yeah, and it’s the third most popular activity in England, so if you want to pick up a cute Brit, biking could break the ice!

-ToonyToon

I’m reading A History of Western Art