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Celebrate Earth Day By Being More Sustainable In The Dorms

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

With Earth Day approaching, it’s time to reflect on what we, as UCSB students, have been doing to protect our beautiful planet and limit our carbon footprint. Understandably, if you’re living in the dorms, which a lot of the student body is, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a sustainable lifestyle. Yet, in order to maintain the beauty of our nature centered campus, it’s so important for us to make an effort to reduce waste as much as possible. I’ve compiled a list of few things you can do to be more sustainable while living in a dorm and most of these tips can be applied to off-campus living as well!

Turn off lights

UCSB has taken several initiatives to reduce energy consumption across campus, including installing LED lights and light time sensors in hallways. While that is a great start, it would help if students actually turned off the lights when they left their dorm rooms. As a Manzanita Village resident, the number of times I’ve seen lights turned on during the day is concerningly high. I get it, sometimes you’re rushing out the door and forget to flip the switch. While it may seem like a minor thing, it can help reduce energy usage and the overall carbon emissions of the school.

Shorten those showers!

Even though California is technically not in a drought anymore, we should still try to reduce our water usage. A great way to do that is by trying to take efficient showers. Sometimes everything showers can take a while, and that is completely fine. We just have to try to take quicker showers on the other days in order to balance out our water usage.

Laundry Loads

This year, UCSB enacted the “Laundry-Like-Home” project that installed new washing machines and dryers in residence halls and made it free for students to do their laundry. It’s a really great program, but in order to continue to save energy and water, everyone should be mindful of their laundry loads. While it’s great that we don’t have to pay per load, we should still only be doing full loads of laundry. Besides, doing a full load means you spend less time folding and putting away your clothes!

Stay sustainably hydrated!

A really easy way to reduce your waste is by using a Brita filter to refill your water bottle, rather than buying packs of plastic water bottles. If you’re not a fan of the Brita filters, there are plenty of hydration stations around campus that you can use and the dining halls are also a great place to refill water bottles. The waste that comes from using plastic water bottles can be easily avoided and it defeats the purpose of a reusable water bottle if you’re using plastic water bottles to refill it.


After taking English 23 last quarter, I learned that food waste is one of the top contributors in carbon emissions across the planet. According to the National Resource Defense Council, college campuses across the country produce 22 million pounds of food waste each year. While this issue expands further than the food waste of individual students, small changes can start at the bottom. Simply by being more mindful about the food we’re throwing away in the dining halls and trying to minimize our waste can make a difference. Because UCSB requires you to have a meal plan if you live in the dorms, there is no way to avoid the dining halls. If you know you would rather eat out, consider changing your meal plan to the lowest option available, 10 meals per week. This way the school isn’t preparing more food than they need to, thus leading to less waste.

Limit single-use plastic

A couple weeks ago I realized that I had accumulated a lot of spare spoons and knives from Ortega because I would always pick up the utensil set despite only needing the fork. I have a metal fork in my room, so really there was no reason to grab the utensil set each time I went and it was just wasteful! Little things that we often don’t think about can slowly accumulate more and more waste; for example, I have a cup full of spoons and knives that realistically I won’t use. I’ve started to be more mindful when going to pick up food at Ortega, and unless I’m not going back to my dorm to eat, I stop myself from grabbing a utensil set — and you should too!

Maintaining a sustainable lifestyle while living in the dorms at UCSB is achievable as long as you remember the three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. While recycling is very important and everyone should continue to do it, the most ultimate way to conserve the environment is to reduce your waste and energy usage. We have a responsibility to protect our beautiful campus, especially since the effects of climate change are already impacting UCSB and IV.

Hey! I'm Kendra and I'm a first-year student at UCSB! I'm love journalism and enjoy writing about various topics including pop culture and entertainment. I especially love writing about Taylor Swift!