Although this is a blog about college and finance, it’s always a good idea to take a moment to think about other issues in the world (although conservation and finance can be related sometimes). With problems like Global Warming and pollution, college students should always think about what kind of world they will be entering after graduation, and the kind of world they will be raising families in. That being said, here are some great ways college students can help the environment. Sometimes it seems like college life is so busy that the environment has to take the back seat, but here are some simple things college students can do to help the environment.
1. Recycle, recycle, recycle.
Recycling is one of the best and easiest ways students can help their environment. Everything from bottles and cans to newspapers can be recycled. Many college students love having parties. Think about the amount of aluminum cans that can be recycled after one huge Frat party. Pop Tabs can also be recycled or collected. As for newspapers, many universities offer readership programs that provide students with free newspapers (New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, local papers, and more). I notice far too many students getting the days newspaper, reading it, and then throwing it in the trash. Recycling those papers can be quite helpful to the environment.
2. Turning off the lights.
Unfortunately for Mother Earth, college students living in dorms are charged a flat fee in the beginning of the year. This means that if they burn more electricity, they aren’t charged anything extra. It’s almost shocking when you see the amount of lights that are left on while no one is there. If students simply turn off the lights they can help conserve energy, which will help the environment as well. Also, if every student made an effort to conserve energy, the university’s electric bill wouldn’t be as steep. Think of all the money that could be saved, and then think of how students could potentially see those benefits in the form of a reduction in housing costs.
3. Don’t waste water.
Yet again, students have a habit of wasting a significant amount of water. My roommate my freshman year would constantly leave the water on all while he was shaving his face and brushing his teeth. Sometimes, he’d even walk out of the bathroom to do something else and just let that water run. If college students took the time to turn the faucet off while brushing their teeth, or make more careful use of water when shaving, then it would be a great help to the environment.
4. Commuters, use the bus.
For students who live on large campuses, you may notice that their are an awful lot of commuters. Too many people who live off campus have cars when they don’t necessarily need them. One person I know drives to class every day and he lives too blocks away from campus. Students generally are pretty good about walking everywhere and riding bikes, but some commuters just get lazy. For those who live far off campus, car pools and public transportation should always be considered. My school gives students access to the city’s bus system for free (actually it’s a small fee paid at the beginning of each quarter, but it’s essentially free). Students should take advantage of alternative transportation provided by campuses. The result of this will be less pollution (via less Carbon Dioxide emissions), and you could save money by not spending so much on gas.
5. Close windows, or open them (depending on the weather).
It shocks me every time I see that it’s winter, and students have the window wide open right above their heater. This is such a waste of energy, and students don’t even think about it. One person I knew (who shall remain nameless), kept complaining the whole day that his room was entirely too cold. Of course, he didn’t notice that his window was open, so all the heat was going outside. The same goes for the summer months. Not every student has the privilege of enjoying air conditioning, but those who do shouldn’t waste it. If it will be a cool evening, you should open the windows to cool the room down. Also, if you have the air conditioner on, don’t leave the window open. Using fans is also a great way to save energy because they don’t use nearly as much as an air conditioner. You can still be comfortable without using insane amounts of energy.
6. Hold contests for conservation.
Individually, students have the ability to help the environment. However, students who have the forthrightness to take environmentalism to the next level can hold contests. My school has a contest every year called “Recyclemania,” in which all of the residence halls compete with each other to see who can recycle the most in a given month. The winners obviously get prizes. That type of recycling contest is a great way to get students motivated to help the environment. Contests can be held in any environmental organizations, or through the dormitories. Another contest I’ve seen held in the past was at my girlfriend’s school. Their dorms had a challenge to see who could reduce their energy usage by the most. Each of the dorms’ energy usage was given in a specific month via a graph. Their challenge was to reduce that number by as much as possible in the next month. This was a brilliant idea to get students motivated to actually turn of lights, computers, fans, and more in order to save electricity. If you are a student leader in any organization, you should consider having these types of contests to help the environment and get students motivated.
Sometimes we can get so involved in our daily lives that we ignore the world we are living in. Even Google has made environmental efforts, so why can’t college students? These are very simple things that any student can do to help the environment.