Earth Day Environmental Special: Going Green on Campus

College students are juggling a variety of obligations, such as classes, Greek life, study groups, jobs, and sports. It’s easy to be busy and forget about how your lifestyle is impacting the environment. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to go green while living on campus.

Go Green in the Dining Hall

Many people like the convenience of using paper or Styrofoam containers for their food. You can go green in the dining hall by staying away from disposable containers. Put your food and drink in containers that the staff can wash and reuse. Encourage your friends to do the same. You can even cut back on having to use glassware for beverages. If the cafeteria allows it, bring your own mug or water bottle. And if you grab food to go, bring your own reusable bag.

Join Your Campus Green Team

Almost every university has a group of students who are working to implement green practices across campus. Whether it’s called a “green team” or something different, the campus group spends its efforts on reducing waste and encouraging policies that will protect the environment. From making a campus more bicycle friendly to increasing the visibility of recycling bins, these groups lead their campuses toward making meaningful changes. Check out the next group meeting to see how you can get involved. It’s also a great way to meet new people and spend time outside.

Make It Easy to Recycle

Most campuses offer recycling bins for paper, plastic, and glass. But the bins may be in common areas, meaning students may or may not remember to bring their recyclables to the receptacle. To solve this problem, you simply need to make it as easy to set aside items for recycling as it is to throw them in the garbage. Buy a container for your dorm room where you can place recyclable material and put it right next to your trash can. When it’s full, dump it in one of the university’s larger bins. With this plan, it’s easy to separate recyclables from trash for the landfill.

If you’re part of a campus green team, start a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of recycling. Your group can create promotional videos and develop eye-catching signage to help students understand how to separate trash and recyclables into the correct bins.

Turn It Off and Unplug

Every time you leave your dorm room, turn off all lights and electronics that don’t need to remain on. You can also reduce your energy consumption by only plugging in appliances when in use. For example, if you keep a coffee pot in your room, only plug it in when you’re ready to brew coffee. Other items you can likely unplug include phone chargers, microwaves, and laptops. Even when off, appliances still use power simply by being plugged in.

Use Less Paper

Even though you may have to print off some assignments, opt to submit your papers digitally whenever possible. You can also decrease the margins on your papers to decrease how many pages you print or you can print on both sides of the page. At Penn State University, students, administrators, and professors have decreased paper usage by 5 percent simply by changing margins from 1.25 to .75 inches.

As an individual and a member of a green team, you can make your campus greener and reduce your impact on the environment.

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