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Keeping Your Carbon Footprint Low at College

Updated on August 19, 2019
Lady Lorelei profile image

With current political policies changing drastically as of late it appears I have transformed into a political junky simply to stay informed

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It's an Issue That Concerns Many of Us

We can all do our part. Pollution, green house gas emissions, and reducing our carbon footprint are issues that weigh on the heart of many of us. Although life's major changes can at times be a bit of a distraction they really shouldn't affect how green your lifestyle can be. You are never too young or old to care and take action.

Following the reduce reuse and recycle rule shouldn't be a problem anywhere anytime or any place and this includes when you head off to college. It will require quite a trove of items to sustain you during your time there but heading off to college does not mean that your carbon footprint has to increase two shoe sizes while you are there. You can still be environmentally friendly even while attending college or university.

The school supplies, clothing, furniture, and personal care products that you buy while away at college can all have an impact on your carbon footprint so tread lightly. While away at school keep your actions and purchases environmentally friendly.

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Decorate Your College Dorm Room in Green

I'm not talking pulling out the green paint instead I want you to go green by using the 3R rules of Reduce Reuse and Recycle. Reducing the amount of new purchases you make is a great place to start. It's not only good for the environment but it can also be wonderful for your budget. It is going to save you a lot of money if you are able to purchase used textbooks and dorm room supplies / furniture.

You are going to require some furniture and accessories for your dorm room and many of these purchases can be reused or recycled products. One of the first places you should start looking for these items is at your local thrift or Goodwill store. A desk, table, chairs, bookshelf, end tables, lamp, television, toaster, dishes, and numerous other dorm room essentials can be purchased at local thrift stores for a fraction of the price that you would have paid for them new.

Saving a little money is always nice but the greenest reason for buying these products used is that you lesson the amount of raw materials and energy required to make new items for you to purchase. You essentially reduce your carbon footprint whenever you choose to reuse. It's a simple gesture that can have a huge impact.

But there are even further initiatives you can make that are just as easy to implement. You are most likely going to require an extension cord to plug your computer, printer, and desk lamp or other dorm room electronics into. Rather than picking up a standard electrical cord instead purchase a power bar with an on / off switch on it. It is estimated that around eighty percent of an electronics electricity consumption occurs when they are not in use. A simple click of the power cord's On Off button whenever you head out for class and also just before you go to bed in the evening can power down all of the electronics in your dorm space. This one gesture can help to dramatically reduce the amount of electricity that you would otherwise have use.

There are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint and some are simple common sense. Shutting off your lights when you leave a room is easy but by also switching to more energy efficient light bulbs you can conserve up to eighty percent of the energy that you would otherwise have used in lighting your dorm room. Energy efficient LED or Florescent light bulbs can be used to replace any old dorm room bulbs and can also be used in your desk lamp and flashlight if you carry one. The new bulbs also last much longer than the old incandescent style which means there will be less bulbs tossed into the local landfill. it is a simple way to help reduce your carbon footprint.

Most Schools Have a Recycling Program

Insure that your college or university has a recycling program in place then learn where the location of the drop off bins are and what can recycled in each. It is generally a very simple process to check into a programs availability and most businesses participate alongside municipal initiatives.

Moving often involves packed items so be sure to recycle any cardboard boxes that were used to pack your items off to college, also save one or two to act as recycling boxes for your dorm room. Paper, plastics, cardboard, glass, and metals can all be easily saved to later drop off at the local recycling center.

Sometimes we can forget that recycling is a two step venture. Recycling only works when there is a market for the sale or reuse of recycled goods. When you purchase your school supplies attempt to purchase products and papers made from recycled materials. Whenever you do purchase new items watch for labels with "made from recycled materials" on them.

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Do You Do These Eco-Friendly Things?

  • Purchase used items rather than buying new.
  • Purchase and use reusable shopping bags.
  • Purchase and use a reusable water bottle.
  • Shut off your computer when it is not in use.
  • Use a solar power charger for your small electronics.
  • Shut off lights when you leave a room.
  • Be aware of the packaging on products you purchase.
  • Take transit, walk, or ride share rather than use your own vehicle.
  • Recycle

Purchase a Reusable Water Bottle

Most city water systems have water that is quite comparable to bottled water so unless your town is known to have water issues turn on your tap instead of purchasing bottled water. Those plastic bottles are not environmentally friendly and purchasing them may be nothing more than a waste of your money.

Rather than purchasing bottled water purchase a steel water bottle and fill it up at the tap. If you are concerned that your water source may not be the best that it can be then use water filtration system to purify it. Many of these such as the Pure and Brita systems are quite reasonably priced. These water purifying jugs are compact in size, fit snugly into a small fridge, and will supply you with months of fresh clean drinking water.

Another simple gesture is to purchase a washable cloth grocery bag so when you are shopping you won't have to bring plastic bags home with you. Far too many plastic bags and bottles are filling up the landfill and this toxic waste is definitely not good for the environment. Remember that every plastic item that you do not purchase is one less in the landfill and one less that has to be made to replace the one you used.

Adopt a Plant

Adopt a plant. Plants breath in what we breath out so not only do they help to replenish the oxygen in the air, but they also have the amazing ability to rid the air around them of contaminants. NASA was so interested in this process that they conducted tests to see which household plants worked best at removing specific toxins from the indoor air around them.

The results were fascinating. Some plants did indeed work better at purifying the air than others. If you really want to be environmentally friendly or your roommate is exceptionally messy then you may want to consider a Spider plant, Golden pathos, Gerbera daisy, Chrysanthemum, Bamboo palm, English Ivy, Mother-in-Law's tongue, or Peace Lily for your dorm room. Most houseplants don't require a great deal of attention and they make great dorm companions.

Do You Follow the Principles of the 3 R's?

Do You Reduce Reuse and Recycle?

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Become an Activist

Encourage others to make a difference. We often learn from example which means that there are more than a few people out there who are simply unaware of the many ways in which they can make a difference. Recycling is so simple an act that virtually anyone can participate and the majority of people really don't mind chipping in.

Your peers are a great place to start. Most students are pretty open minded as their studies encourage them to be open to new ideals every day. This means that they are a prime age group to learn the reasoning and principles of reducing their impact on the environment. Helping to slow the harmful effects of climate change is definitely something that a few can be encouraged into helping out with. Become a climate advocate. Become an activist.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Lorelei Cohen

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 weeks ago from USA

      And say no to straws (but reusable metal ones or just go without) as well as one-time use utensils! These are good tips and I especially liked the information on plants.

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