The time you spend in college provides you with myriad opportunities. Not only are you expanding your base of knowledge and preparing for your future career by earning a degree, but you also get to try all kinds of new things, make new friends and future business connections, and learn how to take care of yourself. However, eco-minded students also have a rare opportunity to implement major changes in their small corner of the world. Most college campuses encourage free thinking and innovation, so you may have the opportunity to influence your fellow students and even the campus at large when you tackle eco-friendly initiatives. Of course, you’ll have to put some thought and planning into anything you want to work on a campus-wide scale. But whether you’re simply doing your part for the planet or you’re pushing students and faculty to join the cause, you can take strides towards a greener tomorrow during your time in college. Here are just a few steps that could have an impact, large or small.
- Start a recycling program. If your campus doesn’t already have a recycling program in place, there’s no reason you can’t attempt to get one going. You could start by making your own trips to the local recycling center, collecting cans and bottles from the students in your dorm. From there you might start a club and recruit members from every dorm on campus to do the same. And finally, you could look into what it would take to post recycling bins around campus and get the local facility to do a regular pickup at your location. You might even want to find out if the school could earn some money in the process, a prospect that might make the administration more likely to get on board.
- Go paperless. For your own benefit, it’s not a bad idea to go paperless as much as possible. A tablet or laptop can help you here, especially with good note-taking software installed or downloaded. With such a device you can also carry a library full of books with you everywhere (without straining your back), including a fair number of textbooks. And talk to your teachers about the possibility of turning in papers electronically. Some might even be willing to switch to digital delivery of tests to cut down on the paper used in class.
- Hiking, biking, and public transit. Carbon emissions are a major source of air pollution and global warming, amongst other things. So anything you can do to avoid spewing exhaust into the atmosphere will only help the planet, not to mention your lungs. Walking and biking are easy enough to accomplish on campus, but what if you have an off-campus job or you like to explore the city? In this case mass transit can provide a solution, and your campus may even offer discount bus or rail passes for students to make the prospect more affordable. Of course, if you have the money, an electric car is also a good option, especially if your campus provides charging stations in parking garages.
- Petition for organic foods. While most college campuses try to provide a variety of food options in the cafeteria, including vegetarian fare and fresh produce, you won’t find too many offering green options like locally-sourced or organic items. So you might want to petition for the inclusion of such foods. It will help if you take the time to look into options available in your area and even find out about pricing and delivery so you can provide the administration with a comprehensive plan for implementing such practices.
- Build solar panels. Your school is likely amenable to the prospect of solar power, but the cost of installing a solar array may cause the administration to balk. In this case you could look into starting a group project whereby you solicit the aide of local businesses to donate time, money, products, or expertise to bringing solar panels to your campus. With a fair amount of student labor to help set them up, you might be able to provide your campus, or at least a couple of buildings with free, clean, solar energy. Whether you enlist the aid of engineering students or you bring in a friend who’s going for an online accounting masters degree to help you crunch numbers, a little planning and a lot of enthusiasm can make your dreams of clean energy on campus a reality.