By Sorraya Brashear-Evans
Before I went off to college, I heard horror stories about the massive weight gain from unhealthy eating, exhaustion from too much work and an overall decline in health and hygiene. After being here for almost a year, I can honestly say IT’S ALL TRUE. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the “Freshman 15,” but in my case it was more like “Freshman 37.” In a little over a semester, my diet has gone from mostly salads to mostly bean burritos. My consumer habits have also become very lax within the past semester-and-a-half that I’ve been away; at home, it’s easy to monitor how much I’m buying and how much I’m throwing away. So I’ve compiled my top five ways to be eco-friendly while away at college.
1. Ride your bike/walk instead of driving
This is an awesome way to burn a few calories while reducing your carbon footprint. You will no longer be a slave to your gas gauge, traffic accidents or construction work. Riding your bike or walking around campus gives you a dose of fresh air while allowing you to explore. Not to mention that, by opting to not drive a car, you’re helping to improve the air we breathe. Almost every car on the road today runs on fossil fuels that emit harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, polluting our air. And to all the broke college students out there, riding your bike can be your salvation.
2. Wash clothes in cold water
I know this doesn’t sound appealing to most, but honestly it’s not that bad. Did you know that just heating the water to wash ONE load of clothes uses almost 90 percent of the machine’s power supply? Washing clothes in cold water not only saves money, but also helps to preserve your clothes from fading and shrinking. Tide has just come out with cold washing detergent, so go try it out!
3. Recycle, Reuse, Reduce
We’ve all heard this saying before, whether it was in school, from our parents or on television. Recycling is more than dragging those blue bins to your curb every week; it’s about separating what can be used again from true waste. Doing this ensures more use out of lesser products. Reusing something cuts down the amount of generated waste, which, in turn, relieves some stress on the environment. Finally, reducing the amount of goods you consume saves you money while lessening waste amounts. Try to squeeze everything out of what you have; you’ll be surprised by how much you save.
4. Hit up thrift shops
No longer is the thrift shop exclusively for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Thrift shops are great places to buy unique pieces of clothing — or anything else you can find — for GREAT prices. Hipster moment: I’ve been thrifting way before that song came out and can honestly say I’ve found better clothing there than at any retail store. Scared to wear someone else’s clothes? Well the washing machine was invented in 1908 and seems to do the trick! Not only is thrifting good for your wallet, but for the environment too, harnessing already made or used clothing reduces the amount of waste that’s weighing down the Earth.
5. Get involved
Talk with eco-reps on campus about how to get involved with the movement for a more environmentally friendly campus. At the College, we have many environmental outreach groups such as Water Watch and Bonner’s Environmental Team, which both do a phenomenal job of garnering awareness about how we treat the planet while also having fun doing it. Getting involved exposes you to many great opportunities at hands-on conservation while allowing you to make new friends in the process. I encourage everyone to reach out to their local eco-friendly organizations, whether they’re in your town or right on campus.