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Three Easy And Efficient Ways To Be Sustainable As A UMass Student

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Don’t worry, we all make mistakes when it comes to being environmentally friendly. We think we are doing the right thing when it may actually be harmful or not helpful at all. For example, recycling is a great way to support the environment; however, when food remnants are left in containers, these containers are considered contaminated and end up in landfill. Compared to most college campuses, I would rate UMass Amherst a 9 out of 10 for its sustainability methods. UMass pledges to be carbon-free by 2032, and they are the first university in the United States to have a carbon rating and carbon literacy project. They heavily advocate for recycling and composting, and have separate bins for differentiating waste and reusable objects in every dining hall, residential hall, academic building, and student center building. UMass Amherst also has designated funding for sustainability initiatives. A project they are currently working on is transitioning from oil-based heat to geothermal heat.

But what more can the students do to implement an eco-friendly community? Let me help you!

1. Go Vegan or Vegetarian

Hear me out. I know it may seem tough to completely cut dairy and meat out of your diet, but consider taking baby steps to get yourself there. Try it for three days and evaluate how much it impacted your life. Was it more difficult than you thought? Was it much easier than you thought? Does your body feel healthier?

This is the time of year to try new things! If you discover that going vegan or vegetarian has no negative impacts on your life or is worth the sacrifice, keep doing it! If you are not able to go cold turkey, consider limiting the amount of dairy and meat you digest. UMass dining has tons of great vegetarian options in the dining halls and cafes. When you order your vegetarian and vegan options from Blue Wall, make sure to use a glass plate when you are not taking your order to go. Additionally, try your best to not have your eyes be bigger than your stomach. Overfilling your plate at the dining hall adds to a large amount of food waste.

2. Take Public Transportation To Travel

I understand it can be more convenient to drive yourself to certain locations, but for UMass students, the PVTA, otherwise known as the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, is free transportation! In Amherst, the bus schedule is extremely effective, with buses running exceedingly frequently. For people who live in North Amherst, the 31 bus route will stop at every bus stop every 20 minutes. The PVTA can even take you to other towns, such as Northampton, where you will not have to stress about finding a parking spot, parallel parking, paying for parking, or getting a parking ticket. In addition, for those who are over 21 years old, it is a great option for free sober transportation. Who needs a 35-dollar Uber ride when you have a free source?

3. Use Reusable Bottles And Cups

Did you know that you can get money off of your drink purchase when you use a reusable bottle or cup on campus? Although it is not much, UMass Amherst does a 25-cent discount, and it can add up over time to save you so much money! Theoretically, if you buy a coffee, preferably a vanilla oat milk latte, four days a week for a year, 25 cents off your purchase would save you over 50 dollars. Also, the UMass Amherst campus has a good amount of hydration stations to fill up your water bottle for free instead of paying for a plastic water bottle. Saving money is the best feeling, so make sure to try it out!

Furthermore, switching out dairy milk for oat milk in your coffee is a great sustainable option. Although almond milk is a plant-based option, it is extremely harmful to the environment because of how much water it uses.

Protecting the planet is not only important, but it is actually more convenient as well. Being environmentally friendly saves you money, reduces stress, and is healthier for your body! Some other great options for you to consider are using metal straws, shopping secondhand, carpooling, turning off lights before you leave the house, and so much more. Not only does turning off lights, fans, and AC units help the environment, but it saves you money on your electricity bill as well! Let’s make it a trend to be sustainable!

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Brook Masse

U Mass Amherst '23

Brook Masse is a Senior at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is majoring in Digital Marketing, Media, and Society and minoring in Psychology. She enjoys taking Communication, Marketing, Sociology, Legal Studies, and Psychology classes. You can find her thrifting, taking a walk, drinking coffee or boba, socializing with friends, or painting when she is not writing.