10 Tips to Be More Sustainable at School (or Home)

 

1. Learn about the recycling program for the school or town: UNH has a new process for recycling this year. Only plastics with numbers 1, 2, and 5 are accepted.  Like always, if your recycling is in a plastic bag, or if a plastic bag is in the dumpster, the trucks won’t take it, and then all those could be recycled items are taken to the landfill.  This happens WAY more often than you think, just ask your Hall Director.

2. Remove your lint from the dryer: It seems too simple to have a big enough impact on the planet, but it does, especially at school.  For starters, the person who uses the dryer after you will thank you.  But, when the lint tray is full, the dryer has to work harder, using more energy to dry your clothes.  Another alternative to this is hanging your clothes to dry, ridding the energy use entirely.

3. Reusable bags: If you’re like me and you like to buy your own snacks, or just enjoy shopping more than your bank account can handle, you’ve probably acquired a decent number of plastic bags over the semester.  I’m sure I’m not the first to tell you that plastic bags are bad for the planet.  No store will force you to take a plastic bag, in fact several across the country are encouraging customers to bring their own bag.  You don’t have to break the bank and buy reusable bags, consider bringing your backpack along while you shop or check out these cute DIY bags!

http://spiderwomanknits.typepad.com/swk/2010/04/vintage-pillowcase-grocery-tote-tutorial.html

https://www.curbly.com/2064-make-a-bird-seed-bag-grocery-tote

 

4. Eat smaller portions: No matter your meal plan, once you’re in the dining hall you’re not limited to how much you can eat.  People often take more than they will eat or grab a large helping of something they’re not sure they’ll like.  We all dread the days the dining hall staff collect the wasted food because we feel guilty, but we only feel guilty when there is someone there to guilt us. Try getting just one slice of pizza, you can always go back for a second one (and bring your plate back up with you).  You can bring this practice home, the smaller your portions, the less you use, the less you buy, the less you waste.

5. Meatless Mondays: It doesn’t have to be Monday, but pick one day a week and eat vegetarian (bonus points if you eat vegan instead). It takes 1,799 gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef, 576 gallons of water to produce one pound of pork, and 468 gallons of water to produce one pound of chicken!  Our dining hall has a great deal of meatless options, even just eating oatmeal, pasta, and vegetarian stir fry once a week can make a huge difference.

6. Turn the lights off if you’re the last to leave a room: Every time I walk by my empty lounge and I see the lights on it disappoints me.  Yes, most lounges have motion sensors and eventually the light will turn off but, still! My dorm has a motion sensor and I watched three episodes of Glee before it turned off. Turning off the lights is not a difficult task, but it saves so much energy.  This is advice you should take from Tom DeLonge and blink-182

7. Clean up your trash:  Follow these tips to make your trash environmentally friendlier:

  • Skip the liner. You don't need to use a trash bag just dump your waste straight from the trashcan into the dumpster.
  • Don’t overflow. If the most convenient trash bin is overflowing, find another.  Holding on to your Wildkitty container until you get back to your dorm is not that much of a hassle.
  • Close the dumpster door. The other day I went to throw out my trash and a squirrel jumped out the side door just as I was dumping my bin.  Not only did this nearly give me a heart attack but, it is so easily preventable.  Animals dig around in trash looking for food, and too often mistake inedible objects for food; leaving the side doors open also allows the wind to blow light objects out and around, littering campus.
  • Pick up your butts. If you are smoking cigarettes to get your nic-fix make sure you aren’t leaving your cigarette butts on the ground for wildlife or even all the dogs on campus to mistake as a snack.

8. Donate, sell, or upcycle your unwanted clothes: Locations close by for donations are Echo Thrift Shop, Savers, and Goodwill.  If you have clothes you're looking to get rid of but donating isn't your style, try and earn a little extra cash!  You can sell your unwanted items on Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, or threadUp.  There's also millions of DIYs out there for old clothes. Check out some of my favorite below:

http://diy.2ndfunniestthing.com/2013/05/crop-top-diy.html

https://www.handimania.com/diy/sweatshirt-pet-bed.html

https://www.thewonderforest.com/2015/01/how-to-make-no-sew-round-braided-rug.html

9. Turn off the tap: If you live in a dorm that doesn’t have automatic sinks, make sure to turn the tap off while you’re brushing your teeth or washing your face. 

10. Reduce your plastic use: Try shopping smarter! Opt to buy toiletries and cleaning supplies that do not come in plastic bottles.  Using bar shampoo, conditioner, and body soap creates virtually zero waste.  Try powder laundry detergent or soap strips that come in paper boxes instead.