9 Small Ways To Be Greener At College

9 Small Ways To Be Greener At College

The smallest actions can make the biggest difference.
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As an environmental engineering student, being green is SUPER important to me. However, I’ve been noticing how difficult it can be to cut down waste and recycle at college. Here are my nine tips on how to be greener at school.

1. Reusable mugs and cups

Instead of using single-use water bottles or getting disposable coffee cups with your order at Starbucks, invest in a reusable cup. It will cut back a lot on waste, and some companies even sell their own reusable mugs they will fill up for you (i.e. Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and Einstein’s).

2. Recycling bin

Typically, dorms come with two trash bins: one for you and one for your roommate. However, it’s super easy to designate one for recycling. If your university does not have a recycling program, talk to your student reps and see what can be done.

3. Join a club!

I have never heard of a university without some type of environmental awareness club. Through these clubs, you will be able to get more information and opportunities about being green. I know that the environmental group at my university even plans trips to help clean up areas where wildlife may be affected by pollution, as well as small projects around campus.

4. Reuse folders/bins/organizers

If it’s not broken, don’t throw it out! Reusing folders and different organizers from semester to semester not only cuts down on waste but it will save you money as well.

5. Reusable containers

A great alternative to take-out containers (and my favorite way to sneak food out of the dining hall) are reusable containers. It’s honestly the best investment I’ve made. Between delivery pizza and microwaved leftovers, the reusable containers have saved me plenty of meal swipes. Check online for some reusable container ideas.

6. Change how you do laundry.

I think I used those laundry pods twice before I gave them away. It takes up a lot of waste to make them, not to mention they ruined three of my t-shirts. So, I went to just liquid detergent (no pod). Click here for a list of tested eco-friendly laundry detergents.

Another tip is to wash your clothes with cold water. Hot water uses a lot more energy. 90% of the energy it takes to wash clothes goes to heating the water.

7. Find textbooks online.

Personally, this is my favorite tip. This will save tons of paper and save you hundreds of dollars. Especially in today’s day and age, more and more textbooks can be found online for a much cheaper price, maybe even free. If, somehow, you can’t find your textbook online, go ahead and rent it, or buy it used. It’s still less expensive than buying a brand new textbook.

8. Change how you get around.

Find out what transportation services are available on campus. For example, Rutgers has a shuttle service to get you from campus to campus. Rowan University has a shuttle service that will take you from Glassboro to Camden. University of Delaware has a train station super close to its campus.

Taking public transportation cuts down on traffic and pollution, and it can be cheaper than Uber or Lyft. Most of the time, shuttle services on campus will be free for students.

9. Change your eating habits.

Vegan and vegetarian diets have less environmental impact because of the amount of water used in its production. Now, just like most college kids, I like a good burger once in a while. Even though I'm not completely vegetarian/vegan, I still make an effort to eat more meatless meals.

Being green is a lot easier than people think it is. If we all make small changes to our routine, it can make a much bigger difference in our world.

*Note: This article would not have been possible without the help of the President of Rowan Environmental Action League, Tricia Hurley. The photo below was taken by Brianna Cahill.

Cover Image Credit: Christa Ouellette

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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8 Reasons Why California Is “The Place To Be”

Many people ask me why I left such an amazing place, and I still don't have an answer.

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I've vacationed in California all my life. I've traveled up the coast and through the deserts and mountains of the Golden State. I've lived there for five years and attended college at a UC (University of California). I am convinced that California is "the place to be", and here's why:

1. The coastline is absolutely breathtaking.

Laguna Beach, CA.

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The turquoise water crashing into the intricately chiseled cliffs is nature at its finest. Hop on Pacific Coast Highway to drive along 840 miles of pure beauty.

2. The weather.

You don't even have to check the forecast in California to know that it is sunny and seventy degrees.

3. Hollywood.

Hollywood, CA

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Being in Hollywood is like being in a movie - spot celebrities roaming the area, gaze upon the amazing mansions that fill the hills, and tour iconic movie sets and studios.

4. The gourmet Mexican food.

Roberto's Tacos, CA

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Whether you are dining in at a classy restaurant on the water, getting take out Mexican from a little shack in the desert, or grabbing a taco from a food truck on the beach, you can't go wrong with the Mexican food.

5. The various universities all across the state.

University of California, San Diego

Kathryn Kaloroumakis

Whether you want to study in a beach town, the desert, or the redwood forest, there is a home for you. The state holds 264 colleges and universities for students to choose from.

6. The endless amount of public trails and parks.

California welcomes people to explore the great outdoors - whether you are roaming through the Redwood Forest, hiking to the Hollywood Sign, walking the trails at Big Bear Mountain, or running the trail to the Golden Gate Bridge, there is always another sight to see in California.

7. The various types of terrain.

Mammoth, CA

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Only in California can you surf in the morning and skii in the afternoon. The desert, the forest, the beach, the mountains, and more - all exist in California.

8. Home to “The Happiest Place on Earth”.

Paradise Pier, Disney's California Adventure

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There is never a dull moment hanging with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland or hopping from ride to ride at California Adventure.

Many people ask me why I left such an amazing place, and I still don't have an answer. California is the place to be.

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