5 Signs Your College is Eco-Conscious
- It Recycles
- It Limits Paper Use
- It Encourages Alternative Travel
- It Sells Sustainable Products
- It is Energy-Efficient
Part of the allure of attending college is the opportunity to be surrounded by other forward-thinking individuals. Environmental health (and more importantly, what we can do to improve it) is a hot topic among college students right now. How can you be sure the college you attend is as environmentally conscious as you are? Here are five signs that you and your school are on the same page (or paperless screen, of course).
Related: 50 Great Affordable Eco-Friendly Colleges
1. It Recycles
When you walk around campus, do you see bunches of nondescript bins that force you to discard all unwanted materials in the same place? Or do you see clearly labeled bins indicating where to put paper versus trash versus cans versus plastic versus glass (you get where I am going with this)? If the answer is the second scenario, then your college is recycling! In addition to bins, look for campus programs that help students recycle used technology, clothing drives, and swaps, and used textbook sales. These are all environmentally conscious forms of recycling!
2. It Limits Paper Use
Do your professors hand out paper syllabi or post them online? Do they accept electronic submissions of assignments or insist on hard copies? Do they print out readings or provide them via hyperlinks and uploads? There will always be a time and a place for old school, paper resources. The sign to look for is a conscious attempt to minimize unnecessary use of paper. If you want to be a paperless pioneer at your school, reach out to the powers that be with suggestions for how your college can actually benefit from going paperless, such as those provided by Forbes.
3. It Encourages Alternative Travel
Environmentally conscious colleges strive to encourage students to walk, bike, take public transportation, and carpool as much as possible. Some signs that your college is focusing on this are safety initiatives such as well maintained and lit walking paths and bike paths that lead both through campus and off campus, plenty of bike racks, and discounts on transit passes and parking spaces for students who carpool or take public transportation. Some colleges even host walk-a-thons and steps competitions to get students moving.
4. It Sells Sustainable Products
Take a stroll around your college’s shops, food courts and dining halls. Some signs of environmental consciousness include locally-grown food, locally-made products, biodegradable silverware, and take-out containers, plenty of opportunities to use dishes rather than disposable products, and products made out of recycled materials. Clubs and organizations frequently give away swag to draw members; look for those who give away water bottles, travel mugs, and other goodies that will promote environmental consciousness. They get bonus points if the swag itself is made of recycled materials!
5. It is Energy-Efficient
Many colleges are creating ways to save water and electricity. Some things to look for include solar panels on top of buildings and parking structures, lights and water faucets that automatically turn off when not in use, fountains that turn off periodically or recycle water, and minimal use of air conditioning and heating. Some colleges utilized landscaping techniques that provide aesthetic enjoyment without the need for water. Some professors get really creative and take advantage of nice weather by moving class discussions outside instead of staying inside and wasting electricity.
If any of these signs are present at your college, it is clearly thinking along the lines of environmental consciousness. If anything on this list is missing, consider taking action to implement them. This is a great opportunity to make a difference in your school and in the world.