I’m not here to talk to you about climate change and whether you believe it or not, but it is hard to deny we are harming our Earth. Being college students, we have a lot on our minds with schoolwork, social life, thinking about and planning for our futures—the list goes on. But that’s no excuse to not be more environmentally friendly. The future does depend on us!
1. Turn off lights in the classrooms and bathrooms
One big way to be greener is conserving energy and electricity. This includes turning the lights off in classrooms and bathrooms once empty. It might seem weird to you to walk out of a bathroom in Ballantine and flip the light off, but trust me, you’re doing a good thing (just make sure no one is stranded in a stall in the darkness). When it comes to classrooms and bathrooms, there’s no telling when the next person will come in, so the lights don’t need to uselessly be on for an indeterminate amount of time—especially later in the day when there are less classes and people on campus. A lot of classrooms also have a more energy efficient option on the light switch, which is just flipping on a portion of the light switches instead of all of them. Whichever way you choose to go, there’s a lot of power in the light switch!
2. Use the recycling bins
If you’re still not sure what exactly gets recycled, that’s okay! It’s never too late to learn. IU is nice enough to place recycling bins in lots of places on campus. It’s on us to be responsible enough to recycle our garbage according to what it is. The recycling bins are even labeled with what types of items they can accept—it’s that easy.
3. Get a reusable water bottle
Chances are when you’re in class and you look around, about half the water bottles are reusable ones and the other half are single-use plastic water bottles. This is such an easy fix with a great, and greener, outcome. Invest in a couple of nice, reusable water bottles and you’ll have them for a long time while lessening your plastic waste. Plus, you’ll save money not buying plastic water bottles several times a week. And most IU buildings now have at least one bottle-filling water fountain that makes refilling with filtered water really easy.
4. Print double-sided
On most computers, this is a default setting. But in some cases, things will automatically print one-sided. Unless you absolutely need something one-sided, you should always go the double-sided route. If you’re worried your professor wants a one-sided hard copy of your paper, or you think one-sided looks better or more professional, you can always shoot him or her an email or ask after class—there’s a good chance he or she will appreciate less pieces of paper to handle and your green attitude.
5. Be greener with your note-taking
Obviously, the greenest option here is using a laptop or electronic device to take notes, but if you like to take notes by hand, there’s still another way to be green. Most people use notebooks, and maybe you’ve noticed that you don’t always use all the paper in it. But it gets to a point where there’s not enough paper left to use the notebook again for another class, so you toss it out. A way to fix this is to use loose-leaf paper in a binder as your notebook. This way, you can either add paper as needed to your current binder, or take it out at the end of the semester and use the paper again in a future binder. It’s like a never-ending notebook.
6. Be smart with your food on campus
If you buy your food and eat on campus, whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or meat-eater, one way to be greener is to not waste food. It’s always best to buy less and maybe get back in line for seconds instead of buying a lot and throwing out half when you inevitably fill up. Or try to buy food that isn’t wrapped 15 times in plastic and instead buy the option that has less disposable waste. If you bring a lunch (or breakfast or dinner) to campus, one thing you can do is get a reusable lunch bag. You can also use reusable food containers instead of throw-away baggies for sandwiches or snacks.
If you have any other ways to be greener on campus, feel free to share with friends and family. The way to a cleaner Earth is for all of us to participate—even the little things make a difference! When in doubt, always remember to reduce, reuse, and recycle 😉