Dorm-friendly eco-resolutions for 2010
How I learned to stop worrying and pay attention to the environment.
Friday, December 11, 2009 - 00:10
Let me paint a picture for you: I'm sitting in my heated dorm room as the temperatures outside plummet to below 14. I'm sipping Fresca and eating soy nuts like a good college student, at ease in the kind of sweatpants that have been worn so often that the lettering down the side is starting to crack (the best kind).
And all I'm thinking about is the holidays.
I'm lying, actually. About that last part. I'm actually trying to wrap my mind around the Russian skit I have to perform tomorrow for my oral final, desperately hoping my professor will be amused by my attempt to be an old, slightly perverted Slavic woman.
The holiday season, for college students, is synonymous with exam season, and holiday cheer often takes a back seat to more time-sensitive things, like memorizing arcane art history knowledge or cramming as much pizza in (and on?) your face as physically possible.
But I know that when Christmas comes around, I'll be a true Ebenezer and finally realize all the "important" things in life, like it happens in the movies: family, friends, togetherness and whatnot.
What I'm hinting at is an allegory that may be a bit far-fetched, but here goes: my tendency to focus on immediate circumstances of the day-to-day can blindsight me to the most important stuff. The environment may be something as intangible as the spirit of giving, but it is most certainly as crucial. I can't afford to wait until Christmas to realize this.
We -- as individuals and institutions -- have to make time now, in the midst of our stress, our soynuts, our insanity.
And with that, I give you my top five environmental resolutions for 2010.
1) Be a smarter advocate by staying on top of international environmental news.
Although I can surely make time to glance over Perez Hilton and The New York Times headlines after class, I'm somewhat ashamed about my lack of knowledge in terms of day-to-day environmental wins and losses.
How I will do this: Add the following websites and blogs to my Google Reader, and vow to never "Mark All As Read." I'll also be sure to share the most interesting links on my blog.
2) Get involved with the environmental community at Columbia.
After nearly four months here, I think I've finally mapped out the community of environmental student groups. And there are quite a few compelling and interesting options.
How I will do this: It seems so simple, yet making another time commitment is definitely an intimidating prospect -- attend a meeting of the CU Food Sustainability Project or Delta Growth and Development Project. Speak up. Repeat. Blog about it.
3) Work with my roommate to establish our room as a model in sustainable living.
I'm very lucky to have a very environmentally-minded roommate. She is an Environmental Science major and works as a Columbia EcoRep. We both have CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) in every available socket, we recycle and turn off the lights whenever possible. But I think both of us would agree that we could really push our comfort zones in terms of sustainable living.
How I will do this: Talk to Candy about buying a shower timer (much like that used by Columbia Greenborough, in my last blog post) and a drying rack, which I learned last year can also act as a humidifier. Make creative/awesome bins for the insanely complex number of recyclable categories at Columbia, to encourage recycling although we have to walk an entire city block (literally) to reach the nearest receptacle. Somehow find a way for us to use less toilet paper (suggestions welcome, we both have realized that we go through a roll every couple of days, which seems ridiculous).
(Candy has agreed to make a video with me to discuss our options for sustainable dorming together - check back soon)
4) Redefine and rethink my femaleness.
If you're at all queasy reading about menstruation, I guess you shouldn't read this resolution ... surprise! I have a uterus!
Now that we've cleared that up: My favorite gift I've received in the past year was a DivaCup, a reusable menstrual cup I received for my birthday from my girlfriends. They'd praised the DivaCup for months, and I was definitely hesitant at first, but I have learned to love it and now, can't imagine my life without it. I will never again spend money on disposable tampons, which do not pay respect to the environment, my body or my dorm's pipes.
Now that I've made this jump, I'm excited to explore other ways that women in particular can be environmentally engaged.
How I will do this: Give a DivaCup to a family member or friend as a gift. Purchase reusable liners and pads (e.g., Luna Pads). I will investigate options for long-term, reliable birth control -- in particular, the Intra-Uterine Device (IUD), which feminist blogger Lena Chen has advocated at length.
5) Learn how to cook.
This is probably the most daunting resolution. Before coming to New York, I'd planned a weekly food budget that would allow me to cook rice and beans and still have enough money to see a Broadway show or two. Once I got here, I realized that this is much easier said than done when the guys at Giovanni's Pizzeria are always smiling when they serve me a steaming slice, and falafel can be ordered at 1:30 a.m. from the comfort of my dorm room. Now, I am dealing with the repercussions of my consumptive, convenient and extremely tasty lifestyle: I'm broke.
How I will do this: Ask my mom (who is a fantastic cook) to teach me this Christmas, and actually pay attention. Copy down some of my favorite recipes from her cookbook, and use a ricecooker whenever possible to save time. Walk to the dorm next door to use its kitchen. Go to the Columbia farmer's market!
And there you have it. I'm curious: college students, what are your environmental resolutions for this year? How do you live sustainably in the dorms? I'd love to hear your suggestions.