When you think of “going green”, a lot of times it’s in reference to what we can do in our homes or on our jobs to make the world a more eco-friendly place. But actually, there are many schools, colleges and universities that are well into the swing of things too. Matter of fact, there are annual reports now that list the top colleges that are the most progressive when it comes to their environmental efforts to make their campus safer, healthier and more efficient place. According to the 2012 Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll List, this year’s honorees include American University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Harvard College.
Do you want to know how to get your college on this list next year? Here are some ideas.
Get your dorm LEED Certified. In order to make their living space more eco-friendly, more and more institutions are looking into getting their universities LEED certified. It’s an official certification by the U.S. Green Building Council stating that a particular building has passed their inspections regarding meeting their standards as it relates to site development, water and energy efficiency and overall environmental quality. Duke University is currently one of the leading colleges with LEED certification. For more information on how to get your institution on the list, visit USGBC.org.
Recycle. Of course having waste bins marked “paper”, “plastic” and “compost” in the student center and dormitories is a great (and effective) “go green” effort, but recycling can go way beyond that. Last year, the University of Southern Maine hosted a Bike Swap event where people could either buy or sell used bicycles (less cars, more cycling). Other creative ways to encourage recycling is to host fashion shows featuring clothes already worn that will be up for sale following the event. Another is to hold a coat drive where students can give their unwanted winter coats and jackets to the homeless within the community. Still another is to adapt an initiative similar to the one that the University of St. Francis. They held a “2011 Paperless Challenge Meeting” encouraging clubs and committees to push their efforts without using printed paper.
Conserve energy. Although college students (or at least the college students’ parents) do see a tuition bill every semester, when you’re not paying for the water and electricity every month, it can be hard to remember to conserve energy. However, more colleges and universities are providing incentives for when students do things like only taking 5-7 minutes for a shower, using their laptops rather than a desktop, replacing air fresheners with plants, turning off their room lights when leaving and unplugging whatever utilities they are not using at the time. Some incentives include pizza nights, gift cards and even prizes for the room that saved the most energy each month (by way of survey and inspection).
Rethink school supplies. Another way that more college students are becoming eco-friendly is by rethinking how they use their school supplies. When it comes to this particular “go green” category, there are lots of ways to get creative. You can purchase writing utensils that are refillable. You can rent books or better yet, buy an e-reader and download many of your textbooks. You can print the copies that you do need on both sides of recycled paper. You can refill your ink cartridges at drug stores like Walgreens. You can take digital notes on your laptop and these days, you can even purchase a solar-powered laptop to recharge your phone and gadgets between classes. GreenLinePaper.com, BuyGreen.com and SeeJaneWork.com are all websites where you can purchase eco-friendly school and office supplies. Voltaicsystems.com and UncommonGoods.com are two places to find that solar- powered backpack.
Go to school online. Are you a graduate looking for a post-graduate degree? Could there be a better way to conserve gas and energy than to consider going to school online? Not only are you sparing yourself the commute, but by using your laptop for studying, you’re also saving a lot of paper and other resources that you would normally use in a traditional college setting. If you’re considering becoming a police officer or probation officer, why not get your criminal justice Masters degree online? Using less resources while gaining a greater education is a wonderful way to show the environment that you’re learning about more than just your major. You’re learning about how to make the world a better place.