Being eco-friendly is not always easy, and I got really lucky with parents and family who were great at it and helped me to do the same before I moved to State. But with the adjustment of moving to school, it's sometimes hard to figure out how to be green. After all, it's not quite easy to fit a compost bin in a dorm and I don't think any roommate would be fond of the smell.
After a semester living in the dorms, I've decided to compile a list of ways to be green in college, from research and my own habits, etc. Hopefully, this will help you make the best impact on the planet possible if you're in the same position I'm in!
1. If you are given separate containers for trash and recycling, use them! If you aren't so lucky, use a plastic bag or another container to dispose of water bottles, food containers, etc. It all makes a difference, so if you have the time to take your recycling out and separate it, you'll make a great impact.
2. Remember how much of an impact your building will have on water usage. So many people living in the same place and bathing means a lot of water being used. Be efficient and don't take forever to shower- you'll help others have less of a wait time for the bathroom and you'll save yourself time to study!
3. Start to get to know where on campus there are places to compost and sort your waste (if there aren't any, maybe you could be that person to talk to housing and administration as to why not- it only takes one person to help!) and utilize those waste containers. I know that in my closest dining hall, they have compost, landfill, and recycle bins. It's great and helps a lot when the meal is all done.
4. Pack or buy a reusable water bottle. Instead of buying water bottles in bulk, carry a water bottle with you to class. This reduces the production of plastic so much and really helps the environment. You can probably find a spirited one at the bookstore to rep your school, too!
5. Turn your phone on airplane mode whenever you aren't using it. That might sound crazy, but here's why: Airplane mode saves a ton of battery. The more you save, the less likely it is you'll need to charge up mid-day or more than once daily. Every bit of energy saved counts, so do you part!
6. If you wear makeup and love makeup wipes at the end of the day, try to switch to a face wash and washcloth instead (thanks to my mom for this tip!). They're proven to be bad for the environment with regard to causing litter, but the packaging they typically come in isn't good for the environment either. And when you throw your wipe in the trash, it's just adding to a landfill. By going for something reusable, you're helping the planet quite a bit.
7. When it's time to do laundry, college students are great at being green. Because it's not cheap, my friends and I tend to fit a good portion of our wardrobe into that machine. If it's not going to break the machine, try to do larger loads or hang clothes to dry. Using more water for a big load isn't great, but it's not as bad as putting a tiny load in the wash and wasting water.
8. An important one that's super easy- make sure to shut off your thermostat and all of your lights when you leave the room. Every bit counts!
9. If your shower is leaking or a faucet has a drip, make sure to contact maintenance or figure out how to fix it quickly- those drops add up and you want to be sure you're saving water in the dorms. Especially in California, this is a big one.
10. Above all else, talk to your roommates about working together to be eco-friendly. This isn't always the easiest conversation to have because it doesn't seem like anyone wants or has time to hear about it, but in an era like this where climate change is quickly progressing, we need to take action on our own and do our part. Be the change by talking to the people you live with about how to make your living space green!
Living on your own is exciting and full of new responsibilities. It's also a great opportunity to improve your own influence on the environment. College students can be the start of ongoing movements to improve how we treat the planet on our own and in our daily lives. It starts with the little things!