“Small steps can lead to large environmental benefits, and you’ll be able to go home and brag about how you’ve become so responsible.”
Isabella Roden, Digital Projects Intern for The Nature Conservancy
By Isabella Roden
When I arrive at my college campus each year in September, the first thing I think of isn’t about how to be an environmentally conscious student.
It’s more like; “Should I introduce myself to that person I’ve never met before? No, too stressful. Where are my friends? Where is my room?!”
At the same time though, college is one of the greatest places where you can actually DO something for the environment, and it’s not even that hard.
You might be more focused on seeing friends, starting a new extracurricular, or hey, maybe even attending your classes, but you’d be surprised how easy it can be to go green at college!
Here are some of the ways you can show your support for the environment on campus:
- Take shorter showers.
I’ve had to share a shower with anywhere from three to five other girls over the past three years, and tempers can rage when someone stays in for too long. So why don’t you just avoid the drama and save water at the same time? Get out 2 minutes earlier than you normally would — nature and your roommates will thank you.
- Join a clean plate campaign.
It’s highly likely you will eat in a dining hall for some portion of your four years, and thus postpone the realities of cooking for yourself. One of the risks of this though is that you’ll put a ton of food on your plate (because after all, you want to get your money’s worth!), and then not be able to finish it. Throwing away the extra food on your tray leads to massive amounts of food waste when you consider how students at your school are doing the same thing. So become part of the clean plate club — only put as much food on your plate as you can finish. If you’re still hungry you can go back and get a little more, as long as you end up with a clean plate.
- Install energy efficient lights.
In some ways going to college is the first time you can really assume responsibility for the world around you. An easy way to do this is to get energy efficient light fixtures for your dorm room. Purchase compact fluorescent light bulbs for your desk lamp. Not only will they save energy, but you’ll have to go buy them less often — not running errands is always a plus right?
- Recycle and reuse paper.
When I think of all the papers I’ve had to print and then reprint after editing out mistakes, I just want to go hug some trees and apologize. However, an easy way to prevent needless paper waste is to reuse and recycle those sheets. I often stick those papers back into my printer when I need to print out a draft, or I toss them into the recycling bin.
- Sign up for an environmental group.
If you feel so inclined, join your school’s environmental group and campaign for green initiatives on campus. Or, if you’re like me and are willing to sign the petition for cage-free eggs but feel too busy to protest in the quad, why don’t you start or join your school’s community garden? Growing organic produce is a fun and rewarding experience, and you can even add it to your resume.
In the end you don’t have to go full-on hippie (unless you want to!) to go green on your college campus. Small, easy steps can lead to large environmental benefits, and you’ll be able to go home and brag about how you’ve become so responsible. Just don't tell your mom that you haven't done laundry in two months.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not represent those of The Nature Conservancy.