What Is Your College Campus Doing to Reduce its Carbon Footprint?

With Earth Day happening tomorrow, we at CollegeCandy have been thinking a lot about our carbon footprint and the many ways we can reduce it. Since there are only a few of us up in here, it’s easy to make small changes that will have a big impact. Like reusing coffee cups and water bottles. And printing on both sides of the paper. And keeping the window closed when the heat or A/C is on.
See? Easy breezy.
But then we think about all our college ladies out there and the campuses you live on with thousands of other students. And all that waste. Between the electricity, food, water, and everything else college students use and toss, colleges waste a lot. Just think of all the lights that are constantly on in every building or the cafeteria food that doesn’t get eaten at the end of the day. There are so many wasted resources on college campuses and until recently, that was just the name of the game. But in the past few years tons of colleges have found ways to combat that, reduce their carbon footprint and be more earth friendly.
Here are just a few things your college might be doing to make Mother Nature proud!
1. Bye-bye, trays!
You might have noticed that your cafeteria is devoid of lunch trays. Annoying, right? I remember when my school did it; I was furious! How on earth am I supposed to carry all the plates, bowls, and drinks without a tray? And why would they take them away in the first place? Were they trying to make my life more difficult? Answer: no. Eliminating trays cuts down on two major sources of waste in colleges: the wasted food from all of us students taking way more than we needed and all the water it takes to wash the thousands of trays daily.
2. Go carbon neutrality!
More and more colleges are signing a comprehensive agreement to go ‘carbon neutral,’ which essentially means either A) not emitting greenhouse gases or B) offsetting their greenhouse emissions through tree-planting or buying “offsets” from companies that support alternative energy projects. Greenhouse gases are slowly chipping away at our atmosphere and it’s important that we slow down this process (or eventually stop it altogether). So if you notice more trees on your campus, you can rest easy knowing your school is doing what it can to be carbon neutral…while also giving you a lovely place to study in the fall and spring!
3. Reducing energy usage!
College campuses use a lot of electricity. Just think of all the things powered by electricity: building lights, the kitchens, the computer labs, and virtually everything else on campus. However, colleges are now trying to enact rules to shut down lights and computer labs after a certain time in order to minimize energy loss. While this might put a damper on those all-nighters some students pull, computer labs use a lot of electricity that could otherwise be saved during those late hours. And who knows? Maybe helping the planet will also do wonders on your study habits and GPA.
4. Recycling bins!
This seems obvious, right? Of course everyone should recycle! But now colleges are being more aggressive about it. Most college campuses now have more recycling bins than garbage bins. Plus, a lot of colleges are now differentiating between all the different types of materials you can recycle. For instance, my own college has separate bins for paper and bottles. And since these bins are virtually everywhere on campus, most students have no problem recycling because it’s almost easier to recycle than to track down a garbage bin.
5. Public Transportation!
A lot of students have their own cars on campus because it’s just so much easier to get around when you have a car. However, campuses are making it harder to bring your car, either by charging semester fees to keep it or allowing parking passes only to upperclassmen. I know this sounds terrible in theory, but using the bus means two things: one, you’re really cutting down on your own personal carbon footprint, and two, you’re saving money! Gas prices are ridiculous. Free bus rides are heavenly things on a college budget.
6. Green housing options!
I know on several campuses, including my own, there are now green housing options. Not all of the residence halls are green, but a lot of colleges are giving students the choice to live in a green environment. I bet you’re asking yourself what the cons are of living in a green building. And there really aren’t any! Yes, you have to recycle and take shorter showers, but it’s all things that add up to reducing your carbon waste and saving the environment around you. Plus, these green buildings are always super high-tech which means they’re pretty beautiful buildings. And they’re new! It’s a wonderful housing option, if you ask me.
7. Organic gardens!
Yes. College campuses are now growing their own food. Organically! For example, Yale University has a student-run organic garden that supplies food to the campus food services, the local community, and students and faculty. Go Yale!
8. Low-water-volume bathrooms!
You might not think of it, but showers and toilets use up a lot of water. (A 10-minute shower uses 25 gallons of water!) To minimize this water waste, almost all college campuses now utilize low-water-volume showerheads, faucets, and toilets in order to cut down on the amount of waste.
9. Sustainability 101!
Not only are universities making changes to reduce their carbon footprint now, but more and more schools are offering classes and entire programs dedicated to sustainability that will allow students to continue to have an impact in the future. And that’s the most important thing because there is so much we still need to do to reduce our negative impact on the planet and who better to lead that charge than those of us learning and preparing for the real world?

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Baggin' Out: Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Huge Hillier Hobo
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