Creative Ways for College Students to Go Green
Today’s post is by campus correspondent Julia Byrd, a senior at The George Washington University. Find out how you can become a campus correspondent, too!
While energy efficient designs are saving home- and business-owners money, those savings are often not passed down to us lowly dorm residents. However, there are a few things that every college kid can do to help the environment and even save money while doing it.
We all have them. Between our phone, laptop, iPod, and camera chargers, lamps, TV, and so many more things, there is never enough wall outlet space. However, they can also be an easy way to save some energy. Unfortunately, we students often do not directly benefit from energy savings since we aren’t paying for utilities. However, some dorms have competitions going on to see which can save the most energy, and sometimes there are prizes for the winners, so be sure to know what’s going on in your own dorm!
Power strips save space, but they can also save energy if you use them properly. Many people know that leaving things plugged in even though they are off sucks “vampire energy” out of the socket. Instead of unplugging everything you own while you’re rushing out to class, an easy solution is just to flip off the power strip, thus stopping the flow of energy to all your gadgets.
I personally have duct taped my power strip to the side of my desk so that no one can see it, but it’s still easy to access. Much easier than crawling under my desk to plug things in and out!
Going to a DC school, a water filter is practically a must with the highly chlorinated city water. However, I still know people who choose to bring an entire Costco-sized case of water with them to college instead of getting a $15 water pitcher.
If you’re anything like me, you’re normally packed into your car with a bunch of pots, blankets and miscellaneous items piled on your lap, so sparing precious space for a case of water is not something I really want to do. Not to mention that I can easily buy a replacement filter online and have it shipped to my dorm, while I cannot easily haul a huge thing of water home from the grocery store.
When it comes down to it, it’s just simply more cost-effective to have a water pitcher. The actual pitcher costs only about $15, and new filters run about $15, too, depending on where you get them. They last a few months, compared to a 24-pack of water bottles that costs the same and only lasts about a month.
Practically everyone has heard about the damaging effects that plastic bottles have on the environment, and that is important, too, but if you don’t see that as reason enough to switch to a filter, then just look at the money!
Make Your Room Yours
While I am guilty of buying $5 posters online, I have at least used them for all 4 years of college, though some of them are getting a little beat up. Even then, I often go into other people’s rooms and see some of the same posters I have. The testing center where I took the GRE even had one of the same pictures I did! Everyone likes to be an individual, so it doesn’t make me feel fantastic that I apparently have identical tastes as the mini-hell that a testing center is. As such, I’ve started to branch out as far as decorations are concerned.
Most people think that plastics are the most commonly thrown out item, but, in fact, paper products take up more space in our landfills than any other type of trash, so saving a poster here and there or, better yet, not buying one in the first place, is definitely a green thing to do.
I personally love decorations that are more individual than mass-produced posters. For example, I have a giant plastic queen taped to my wall. While that is certainly a strange item to have, it was my idea to make, and I’m rather proud of it.
How did this lovely piece of “modern art” come about? I worked at a chess shop this summer (don’t ask me what that is – I still don’t know), and we had this huge bag of extra queen pieces. Every set of pieces comes with an extra queen, but when we set up boards for tournaments, we don’t put the extra queens out, so really they’ve just been accumulating in our closet for 4 years.
The owner is a bit of a pack-rat and refuses to throw away anything, so I told him that I wouldn’t throw them away, but turn them into an art project instead. I’ve had too many bad experiences with Krazy Glue to attempt this project myself, so I went to one of my friends who is an artist and had him take all of these normal-sized pieces and glue them together to form a large queen.
Now I have the perfect recycled, non-paper wall ornament that’s definitely a conversation starter. Yes, the people I converse with quickly realize I’m a nerd, but at least they get to know me in a hurry …
To me, going green is fun; it’s a puzzle that I’m constantly working to solve. It’s a way for me to save money that I can later waste on ice cream. It’s a way for me to share my passion for the environment with those who maybe haven’t given much credence to the green movement.
So get your creative juices flowing! Break out the glitter, glue, and Blendy Pens with your friends and make some memories that can also be nailed to your wall. Then skip down to the nearest 7/11 for some Ben and Jerry’s with the money you’ve saved by using your great ideas for the greater good!
Julia Byrd is a senior at The George Washington University. She is double majoring in Russian Language and Literature and Environmental Studies and plans to go to graduate school, though she is unsure what kind. Her interests include yoga, movies and finding warm places to travel to whenever possible.