Tips for a Green College Lifestyle

Green living is starting to become rather popular. Everywhere you turn, there seems to be an ad about energy saving light bulbs, recycling, or green materials. Because it’s becoming rather easy to switch over to a green lifestyle, being in college does not mean that you cannot begin a green lifestyle of your own, even without breaking the bank. Here are ten tips to help you on your green living journey.

Switch to CFL light bulbs. Can you believe one simple act, such as changing a light bulb can help save hundreds in electricity bills and energy outputs? So, change a light bulb and help change the world, even if the only bulb you change happens to be your desk lamp, you’re still contributing to protecting what little resources our planet has left.

Save recyclable items, and then actually recycle them. It’s amazing how much waste a single person puts out. Throw two or more people into a room, or an apartment and the waste output is literally phenomenal. So, instead of throwing every single thing away. Save what you can recycle. Most places recycle common items such as plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and paper. Don’t forget paper can be old class work, newspapers, and magazines. Don’t throw that piece of scrap paper away. Use it until you can’t use it anymore and toss it into a recycling bin. My suitemates and I save our recyclables and toss them into the appropriate bins on our way to classes. How long does this take? Seconds, as the bins are on our way. Try it; you’ll be surprised how much money on trash bags you save; and on runs to the dumpster.

Reuse what you can. Recycling is great, but why recycle every item you use, when some of those items can be reused, at least several times before being tossed in the recycling bin? Plastic water bottles are a great example. Refill it several times, and then recycle it. Don’t use a towel once and then wash it. Use it several times before tossing it in the wash. Old clothes can be cut up and made it other clothes, purses, bags, or even cleaning cloths. Get creative with what you have.

Buy products that are not single use only. Skip the paper towels and buy a cheap dish towel or two to keep around the kitchen or around the home period. Paper towels are great, but usually can only be used once, making them a wasteful product. Cut down on that by using your towels. Also, paper plates and cups. Really, who needs to spend that much money every month when a few cheap plates and cups will last forever? Green living is about reducing your impact, not trying to see how much money you can toss down the drain and how much trash you can accumulate. Green living is about reducing your impact. Think before you buy.

Turn off lights and electronics when not in use. Really, this goes without saying. If you are not in the room, and you are not using it, then why is it still on? Most computers can be set to power down after a certain amount of time and then can be easily restarted, which really is your best option especially if you will be gone for large amounts of time. After charging your cell phone, remove the charger from the outlet and put it away. Just because you’re not using it anymore does not mean it still is not drawing electricity. Practice this idea at home, and your parents will love you. Also, only run dishwashers and washing machines on full loads. Either wait to wash, or wash by hand.

Use public transportation. If you live in a small area, and attend a small school, I can understand that driving everywhere may be an option, especially if you don’t have an adequate public transportation system. But bigger areas usually have better options, especially if you attend a large school that figures public transportation into your tuition. Use it. Walk where you can. Not only will your body thank you for the exercise, but the earth will thank you for not polluting her.

Avoid paper and plastic. Next time you go shopping, skip the paper and plastic bags, and go for a reusable bag. A lot of stores are beginning to offer sturdy shopping bags for a small fee. Buy them and cut down on the amount of paper and plastic bags you receive. If you don’t want to skip the bags, use them creatively. Plastic bags make great small trash bags. Paper bags are great for crafts.

Pick up some litter. I know you don’t want to look silly picking up every single piece of trash you see, but really, isn’t trash the worst thing to look at? Next time you are on your way to class, pick up trash and toss it into the next bin you come across. See a bottle or a can on the ground that can be recycled? Pick it up and do the same. If it’s on your way, you’re not wasting any time, and you’re doing a good thing.

Join a group that shares your interests. Common interest groups are a great way to help spread your green living message to the college community, or maybe even the community as a whole. You can help plan recycling areas, lectures, or other activities involving green lifestyles. It’s a great way to make friends, and make a difference.

Share your message with others. Take your message about green living and green lifestyles home. If you want to get people more interested in recycling, share facts. For example, recycling an aluminum can (the most abundant resource available) means powering a television for three hours. Or, if every American recycled just one plastic bottle for every 10 used, 200 million pounds of plastic would be kept out of landfills every year. The facts are staggering, and can be found online at a multitude of places. Simply talking about it and why you are passionate about saving the earth can ignite the passion in others.

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