Wednesday, October 3, 2007
On cold Virginia evenings at the College of William and Mary, mittened passers-by on the sidewalk below my second-story dorm room window could see me wearing my favorite lightweight striped pajama shorts and a tank top. Some mysterious person on campus would set the centrally controlled radiators to pump out far too much heat for human comfort. A few steps away in the campus dining hall, trays heaped high with excessive dishes, crumpled paper napkins and piles of uneaten food spun on the conveyor belt toward the giant rolling trash cans of the kitchen staff. I never understood why people had the need for multiple drinking glasses for a single meal.
Many college campuses are renowned for their waste. But perhaps the days of seeing perfectly good eBay and thrift-shop-worthy items overflowing from college dumpsters at the end of each school year is drawing to a close. From Williams College on the East Coast to the University of Washington out west, campuses across the country are "greening" up their acts.
When you think about the environmental sustainability of your own school, start with the dining hall, where dollars spent can make a huge impact. What percentage of the campus food budget is spent on organic and local foods? Do they use organic, fair-trade coffee and chocolate? Does your school grow any of its own food? Is food waste composted for use as fertilizer for the campus flowerbeds or sent to the landfill? Are the paper napkins made from recycled paper? Does the dining hall use ceramic plates and silverware rather than styrofoam and disposable cutlery? Are recycling bins available?
Next, take a look at the other buildings on campus. Are dorms and classrooms energy and water efficient? Does the campus incorporate renewable energy or alternative fuels into their energy mix? Are laundry facilities energy efficient? Does the college use environmentally friendly building materials and sustainable development practices for expansions and renovations? Is the janitorial staff using green cleaning products?
Green campuses are far more common in the northeast and the northwest, home of more progressive environmental policies than in the south. But if you are in Mississippi, don't despair. Even if you are living (or thinking about living) on a campus that is not yet environmentally enlightened, you can reduce your own ecological footprint, perhaps inspiring others to follow suit.
Conserve water and energy. Take short showers and don't leave the water running when you are washing dishes or brushing teeth. Turn off your lights and your computer when you're not using them. Consider that laptops use far less energy than desktop computers. Buy a solar backpack that can charge your iPod and cell phone as you walk between classes. And limit your car use by carpooling, walking and biking.
Reduce waste. Find out about recycling resources in the community if your campus doesn't offer recycling services. Carry your own mug and reusable water bottle to the campus dining hall or local coffee shops. Read class handouts on your computer instead of printing them. Use the public library. Share subscriptions to environmentally friendly magazines with others on your hall. Use the dorm kitchen instead of buying your own personal microwave and mini-fridge.
Buy environment-friendly products.Use eco-friendly personal care products and cleaning supplies. Buy recycled paper and print on both sides. Refill printer ink cartridges rather than throwing them out and buying new ones. Use fluorescent bulbs. Buy used books and clothing. And ask local stores to carry green products.
Good piece, I liked this one. Especially the solar powered IPod charging back pack. I expect that soon many more of our technologies will assist us to be better stewards.
Wow, I didn't know they still made deodorant stones. I'd tr it,but I need an antiperspirant too.
Well you should definitely check out the natural antiperspirants at Rainbow!
I saw some deodorants over there but I don't remember seeing antiperspirants. I'll give it a second look.