Sustainably Back to School – College Edition

While the heat of summer wanes, for many, the thought of school just around the corner hammers our nerves and sense of freedom even more. So, why not make the most of it? Look forward to that new year of classes. Now add to that a hint of green thinking, and it might just be the best school year ever!

Let’s focus our sustainable minds on the products college students need. To make sure life in the dorms is as comfortable and efficient as possible, there are a few key areas to address: technology, clothing and school supplies.

Technology

Unlike the school days on campus that your parents reminiscent over (perhaps way too frequently for your taste), today’s supplies include some high-tech gear. While laptop computers, cell phones and tablets are energy sinks, they do offer some sustainable benefits. Most notably, these products are eco-friendly in that their existence makes other products unnecessary.

desktoppic

Working at a desktop can be less expensive. You definitely lose the mobility, though.

One can take an endless amount of notes in class, thus limiting the necessity for notebooks. The fewer notebooks used, the fewer trees cut down. And, if you want to take it one step further, read how to find the most energy-efficient laptops.

The same goes for MP3 players: One of these puppies means you don’t need to buy CDs (if anyone even does that anymore). No CDs, no plastic discs, no packaging, no paper booklets. Moreover, if you have a modern cell phone, you’ve got your MP3 player wrapped up nicely. No need to purchase anything.

Lastly, one Kindle requires a lot less material than a library of books, textbooks, and

overdriveapp

Overdrive is a free program that pairs you up with your local library to download (check out) books & more.

novels. This is best if you want to have ownership of these titles. However, there is a phenomenal program to use with your electronic reader called OverDrive. It pairs you with your local public library to give you digital copies of books, audiobooks, magazines, and more…FOR FREE! It’s just a modern take on your library.

Clothing

Along with a new grade level, every person needs some new stitches for the year, that’s the American way. But maybe it’s time to change the way we do things. Think about how much you might really use that new hat or belt … oh, maybe three times. One of most common “green” challenges these days is making something new with something old, by altering some of your least favorite clothing into a new, fashion-forward and not-so-harmful-to-the-earth style. And hey, if you mess up then you just have a new set of rags to wash your car with on the first day back to campus.

However, if you’re like most people, you’ll end up purchasing at least a few new pieces. When doing so, look for clothing that comes from sustainable materials like bamboo or hemp. Again, unlike our parent’s generation, today’s clothing made from such natural materials can actually look stylish and most importantly not be so itchy.

But, the biggest way to “increase your green” is to not buy anything new at all. Just like we talked in our last blog post, reusing clothes from either thrift shops or hand-me-downs is a great way to shorten the loop.

School Supplies

Today’s university bookstores offer a much wider selection of products than the simple notebooks and binders of yesteryear. Think spiral notebook with post-consumer recycled paper, pens that utilize soy-based ink and planners that combine both green-thinking practices. The pen-and-paper medium is quickly becoming obsolete, but in the interim, those supplies we still find necessary can be as sustainable as possible.

These are just a few ideas for those taking their first steps onto campuses this year. If you’re interested in becoming more sustainable at your dorm, library, student center, or local kegger, there is most definitely a group of like-minded students or professors that will help you take your first step. Look for environmental groups or clubs. They will most likely already have a running head start for you learn from and finally take that leap into the world of sustainable college living.

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