Sometimes, college is a bubble. It can feel daunting to commit to things like sustainable practices because, how much power do you really have in a dorm or even a rented apartment? We’re here to help. Believe it or not, there are TONS of easy ways that you can live a green and sustainable life at college.
1. The obvious: recycle! Recycle your cans and paper and cardboard by sorting them into recycling bins found all over campus and in your dorm buidling. However, there are also not so obvious ways to recycle. It’s a two way street. Along with recycling your waste, try purchasing recycled goods. This could mean recycled notebooks for your classes, scanning the racks at thrift stores for clothes, or purchasing gently used furniture. Often, used goods are cheaper than new ones, so it’s a win win. Look on websites like Ebay, or join one of the many Northwestern Free and For Sale Facebook groups to scout out what you need.
2. Use less paper! I know you know to limit paper towel use and print on both sides when possible, but what about plates? Next time you make a target run, pick up a plastic plate, bowl, cup, and set of utensils. Not only will this reduce the amount of paper goods that you use, you will also look infinitely more classy when scarfing down that 2AM pizza.
3. Buy smart! Need a new minifridge for next year? Consider buying used (see #1) or look for one that is Energy Star rated. All appliances (we’re talking printers and lamps here too people) can reduce your energy use by half! energystar.gov can help you pick wisely.
4. Buy in Evanston! Are you moving into an apartment next year? Need a futon for your dorm room? Rather than buying it at home, consider buying in Evanston or Chicago. Not only is this the cheaper option since you wont have to figure out how to get a futon from home to campus, you’ll also help the Earth by cutting down on the environmental harm that comes with shipping something across the country.
5. Are your sheets sustainable? That sounds like a strange question, but these days your cotton sheets could have been born among tons of pesticides and you don’t even know it. Next time you need a new set, consider buying organic cotton, flax, or organic flax as all are lower pesticide options for sheets and towels.
6. Here’s a bright idea: light emitting diode bulbs. They’ll light up your room just as well as any lightbulb, use only a tiny bit of electricity, and last a looong time.
7. Don’t forget to spread your green knowledge. Share this sage wisdom over 100% sustainable seafood in the dining halls next week, send it to your dorm’s listserv in preparation for next year’s Green Cup. Get out there and be sustainable!
Want more tips and tricks? Check out these articles!