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Green Tips: How College Students Can Go Green

Green Tips | November 14, 2019

Being at college is a great time to learn about ways you can go green and incorporate eco-friendly behaviors into your daily routine. Here are some of our Green Tips to help you get started.

  • Transportation:
    Transportation is the leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and accounts for 35% of total emissions in New York State. Adjusting your commute to campus by biking or walking more, will help reduce your environmental impact. If you’re attending a college in a city, use public transportation or see if there is a bike-share program you can participate in, like CitiBike in NYC, Lime bikes in Ithaca, and Bethpage Ride in Suffolk County.

    As the end of the semester approaches, think about setting up a carpool for students heading home to the same city for the holidays. This can be a great way to save time and money while making some new friends. A great way to look for a carpool or advertise one is through student groups on Facebook.

  •  Clothing:
    It is estimated that Americans throw out 70 pounds of clothing per year with a majority of it ending up in landfills. If you need to save space in your dorm room and want to get rid of some clothes, consider donating them to an organization like Goodwill or Salvation Army. Look up your area’s closest donation center or ask for a pick up anywhere in NY through PickupPlease. You could even make some cash off the clothes you give away, using the ThredUp site. If you live in NYC and have large donation loads, you can apply to get a reFashionNYC clothing donation bin for your apartment or dorm building and call for pick up when it is full. 

    Goodwill, Salvation Army, and ThredUp are also good places to shop for discounted clothing and home goods. Thrift shopping helps to reduce waste and give perfectly good, slightly-used products second and third lives. 

  • Food:
    Each year, Americans generate an estimated 3.9 billion tons of food waste. Students living on-campus produce approximately 104,000 lbs of food waste per year nationwide. See if there’s a food scrap drop off site near campus, or talk to one of your professors about starting a composting program.

    Earlier this year, New York passed the Food Donation and Food Scrap Recycling Act which requires the state’s largest food producers to donate or recycle all their usable food waste. The excess food that would otherwise be sent to landfills will now go to the 2.5 million hungry New Yorkers, effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    The passage of this law is a big win for New York, but there is always more we can do to minimize food waste. Do your part by only putting the food you need on your plate and only buying what you will eat. If you have extra nonperishables laying around, donate them at a holiday food drive, or give it to a dorm neighbor.  

  • BYO (Bring Your Own bottle, straw, or bag):
    There are endless reasons to recycle. Not only does recycling save energy in manufacturing, but it also reduces pollution, keeps wildlife safe and creates thousands of jobs

    One of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of plastic entering the waste stream is to invest in a reusable water bottle. You’ll save money on water in the long run. For hot drinks, use a reusable mug, thermos, or tumbler. Starbucks, some Dunkin locations, and other coffee shops are offering small discounts for customers who bring their own mug. 

    Cut down on other unnecessary plastic by investing in your own set of reusable straws and shopping bags. Single-use plastics pollute our environment and can take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills. The degraded material breaks down into microplastics that further contaminate our environment and end up in our food systems. Reusable straws and bags can be purchased for a few dollars at most food and home goods stores. To recycle your plastic bags, search for a drop off location at participating retail stores near you.  

    Learn how to properly recycle on campus by looking up your city’s recycling website or ask someone in your dorm. To learn more about the general do’s and don’ts of recycling check out our recent Green Tips

  • Stay Informed & Get Involved:
    Paying attention to current events is always beneficial, as there are updates on local, national, and global environmental issues. As an informed environmental advocate, you will be better equipped when discussing these issues with friends and family. Spreading environmental awareness is a key step in moving towards climate change solutions. Every Monday NYLCV shares articles to keep you up to date!

    Another easy way to stay informed and involved is to join an environmental or climate action club on campus. This could be a great opportunity to make a more substantial impact within your college community and the local environment. Here are just a few examples of what environmental college groups are working on around NY. 

    • At Manhattan College, the Green Club hosts discussions about current environmental threats and volunteers in related campus events. 
    • The Environmental Cooperative at Vassar College is dedicated to bringing students out to help in Hudson Valley conservation efforts and instill a sense of environmental stewardship.
    • The Binghamton University Food Co-op provides organic, locally sourced food options for students and community members.

A growing number of colleges across the country and in New York State are developing plans to cut their carbon emissions, CUNY, Hamilton College, and Syracuse University are among them. Commitments include installing more energy-efficient HVAC systems, building LEED-certified buildings, and increasing green space on campus. Look on your school’s website to see if they have any sustainability goals or a climate action plan. If they don’t, try working with environmental clubs and faculty to see how you can help propose ideas to the administration. 

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