Green campus living: a guide

June 16, 2023

As college and university campuses across the nation strive to implement green initiatives, students have a unique opportunity to take action and make a lasting impact by embracing eco-friendly habits and policies. College campus living is the perfect canvas for students to explore and create the sustainable life that works for them.

Summer isn’t over quite yet, but it’s the perfect time to plan for the steps you can take at the beginning of next semester. We encourage you not to worry about perfection, the pressure to do more, or a lack of reach, anyone will tell you it’s the small stuff that counts, so let’s get started.

Sustainable Move-In: When beginning your college year, consider using reusable or biodegradable packing materials. Swap out single-use plastic wrap and bubble wrap with eco-friendly alternatives like biodegradable packing peanuts or recycled paper. Additionally, opt for energy-efficient appliances and LED light bulbs in your dorm room.

Plug Into Green Power: Many campuses offer renewable energy options. Inquire about any available green energy programs. You can also use power strips with an off switch to minimize phantom energy usage and unplug chargers when not in use.

Green Transportation: If your campus is bike-friendly, invest in a reliable bicycle or use a bike-sharing program for short commutes. For longer trips, use public transportation or carpool with fellow students to reduce emissions.

Waste Reduction: Take full advantage of campus recycling and composting programs. In addition, encourage fellow students to participate in e-waste recycling program like ReturnCenter, which sustainably and securely recycles unwanted phones, tablets, and laptops. This will help divert harmful materials from landfills and promote a circular economy.

Conscious Dining: Bring your own reusable utensils, straws, and containers to campus dining halls. Choose plant-based meal options when possible, as they generally have a lower environmental impact than meat-based dishes. Seek out local or organic produce to support sustainable agriculture.

Efficient Laundry: Use cold water when washing clothes to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint. Air dry laundry instead of relying on power-hungry dryers. Consider using eco-friendly detergents free of phosphates and harsh chemicals.

Green Clubs and Events: Join or start an environmental club on campus to promote sustainable initiatives, raise awareness, and engage with the wider community. Organize and attend eco-friendly events like tree plantings, cleanups, and workshops on sustainable living.

Sustainable Study Materials: Opt for digital textbooks or rent physical copies to reduce paper waste. Take notes electronically or use recycled notebooks. When printing is unavoidable, print double-sided and choose recycled paper.

Advocate for Change: Encourage the university administration to invest in energy-efficient buildings, renewable energy sources, and green infrastructure. Engage with faculty to explore the incorporation of sustainability into curricula across disciplines.

Share Your Knowledge: Become an eco-ambassador by educating your peers and organizing awareness campaigns. Encourage friends and classmates to adopt sustainable habits and work together to create a greener campus.

Feeling more confident about ways to be more environmentally conscious while living on campus and beyond? Tell us about your own ideas and initiatives, tag @returncenter on Instagram and we’ll share your story.