A new academic year, much like the New Year, signals a clean slate. Many parents will see their young son or daughter achieve life goals by attending university. On the student's side, excitement, doubt and money cloud the mind on move-in day.
The idea that remains behind the scenes? "Clean the dorm" or "take out the recycling." Many students, including new students, probably do not think about living the green life.
No worries. It is extremely easy to study, party and be green all at once. Following these simple tips during move-in and throughout the academic year can help make a significant difference.
Recycle, recycle, recycle. Many colleges and universities provide recycling bins for each living quarter. Use the green (or blue) bins like no other. Common "easy recycles" include used cardboard, paper, plastics, glass, etc. In addition, most ordinary items such as cleaning bottles, paper scraps, and even magnets can be recycled, as well — given the proper receptacles.
Turn it off. Turn off and unplug lamps, chargers, and small appliances when not in use. These "silent energy drainers" require additional energy even while off. When in doubt, unplug it!
Out with the old, in with the new. Get rid of the "old school" incandescent bulbs and replace them with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) or LEDs.
Buy smart. Purchase recycled-paper notebooks, Energy Star-rated devices, and other post-consumer objects. They last just as long (and many even longer) as the regular items.
Hit the bus or walk. Use the campus' bus system (since it's paid for) or simply walk to class. Walking outdoors will provide exercise, fresh air and Vitamin D. Leaving the car at home will save thousands of dollars in gas and thousands of pounds of carbon.
Get involved, get educated. Join the campus' sustainability (or Earth) club/society.
Of course, there are many other ways to reduce one's negative impact while at university. For many people, it is difficult to begin a new routine. Therefore baby steps are necessary to make small change and create a path for everlasting change. To all the entering students this academic year, enjoy collegiate life and make an effort to change.