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5 Tips for an EcoFriendly Back to School

Welcome back to campus! As classes are starting up again, I’m sure many of you are working on creating some good habits to make this your best semester yet! Time management, healthy eating, and self-care are all great ways to take care of yourself, but what about taking care of something even bigger? What about habits to take care of the environment? There’s no denying that humans are having a profoundly negative effect on this world. So this school year let’s all get into a habit of reducing waste on campus, and making our world a better place! These tips will get you on the right path:

1. Have that meal to stay!

With early classes and busy schedules, it’s hard to find time for meals, but all of those to-go containers make an awful lot of waste. Try to make time in your schedule and have a meal that doesn’t require to-go containers. Not only will this allow you to enjoy your meal, but it’s also a great time to relax and catch up with old friends, or even make some new ones. If you do have to take something to go, be mindful of taking only the to-go materials that you really need. Then when you’re done, dispose of your waste properly. The to-go containers at Mount Holyoke can either be composted or recycled!


2. Get a best friend for your reusable water bottle: a reusable travel mug!

It’s great to see so many students on campus with their reusable water bottles, drastically reducing the use of plastic bottles. But with the amount of coffee and tea we’re consuming throughout the semester (here’s looking at you midterms!), we create a lot of waste through single use cups. Get your reusable water bottle a partner in crime with a travel coffee or tea mug! Some coffee shops will even give you a discount for bringing your own cup!


3. Yes, the compost bin is a real thing–use it properly please!

I know there are some rumors floating around Mount Holyoke that the compost is just for show,but it’s far from a hoax! Mount Holyoke staff are working hard to make sure that we reduce our waste through this service, so please do compost properly. If you’re struggling to figure out what’s compostable, have a look here.


4. Find a recycling bin (even if it feels like a scavenger hunt!)

Proper recycling bins aren’t available in every room on campus. While this is unfortunate, that doesn’t mean that everything should automatically go in the trash! If you have a plastic or paper item that can be recycled, hang on to it until you find a proper bin. It may be a bit of an inconvenience, but the planet thanks you! You can even request a special recycling bin from the EcoReps, so that you can practice recycling in your dorm room as well!


5. Your voice is your most valuable tool, use it to spread the message!

Now that you have all this knowledge, it’s essential that you share it! If you see someone consistently using a single use coffee cup or composting incorrectly, it’s okay to give them a friendly reminder or suggestion. Especially with first years on campus, some people may simply not be aware of the many ways that they could be reducing waste on campus. Your voice is a powerful tool – use it!

The core idea is still that old adage you heard in elementary school: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. When all else fails, use this three R rule to help reduce your carbon footprint, and you’ll be saving the planet in no time!


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Hallie Lorde

Mt Holyoke

I am a first year at Mount Holyoke College interested in fashion, politics, and environmental issues.
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