A new year means a fresh start – for you and your environmental footprint! For many of us, coming to college is the first time we’re making completely independent decisions about our space set-up, laundry, what we buy, what we throw away, food choices, and our habits at home. Here are some ways that this transition can empower us to have a gentler impact on the environment…
Packing It All In: Getting your things where they need to go
- Pack fragile items by wrapping them in T-shirts or newspaper – skip those packing peanuts!
- If you’re taking a car, pack your items in reusable bins. You’ll be moving rooms and storing stuff a lot in college, so large, portable bins are a great investment. You can also pack clothing straight into trash bags and reuse those later!
- If you’ll want a power strip for plugging in many things, consider buying one with a switch or a timer, so you can make sure your electronics don’t use energy while you’re out and about.
- If you have a roommate, check to make sure you’re not bringing duplicates of things that could be shared!
Settling Down: On-campus tips
- Pick up a reusable water bottle at campus events – the first week has tons of free stuff, and buying bottled water is a waste of your precious cash.
- It’s easy to overbuy on room stuff and school supplies at the very beginning, but keep in mind that you can always get things later, once you more fully know what you’ll need.
- Ask your greeters, RA, or Eco Rep to show you where the dorm recycling is – to get any cardboard clutter away sooner rather than later!
- There are so many alternatives to paying big bucks for new textbooks: borrow from a housemate who has taken the class, rent from the bookstore or online, buy cheap used books online, use the textbooks on reserve at the library, or share with a classmate!
Forget-Me-Nots: Things to bring
- Check out Smith’s “Free and For Sale” facebook page for cool stuff from cool people – buying from other students is cheaper and prevents things like furniture and clothing from going in the trash. (Be sure to turn off notifications, or you’ll get 30 notifications daily) Another source of great clothes is your house’s Free Box! Anyone can add unwanted clothes or take nice finds!
- Buy green for your room: There are many environmentally friendly products at a reasonable price. Everything from shampoos to recycled school supplies! Lots of these items are available at the school bookstore or downtown.
- Skip the mini fridge – Personal fridges make up a significant portion of energy usage on campus. Every dorm has a full-size communal fridge! If you do need a mini one, consider sharing it with a friend you trust.
- Make/bring/buy/share a drying rack – laundry is expensive, (the dryer costs you $1.35-1.50! That’s a slice of pizza!) and dryers are huge energy monsters. It only takes a couple of hours for clothes to dry when you hang them up!
- Bring Tupperware – Smith’s dining halls are usually open for only 2½ hours for each meal- if you’re in a hurry or planning on staying up late, having Tupperware makes grabbing food much easier. And they help cut down food waste!
Once you are here, don’t forget to ask staff in Campus Sustainability about how you can get involved – they’ll have a lot of great ideas for how you can continue to green your time on campus. You can find them in CEEDS, in Wright Hall 005.
-Shelby Kim ’18 and Ellen Sulser ’18
Shelby: I will be a junior this year (how did that happen?!). Sociology major! I grew up in Los Angeles. My main interest right now: ways that making & sharing things can bring about communities that are more resilient and more fair. I will be leading a backpacking orientation group and can’t wait to meet the class of 2020!
Ellen: I’m a junior in Capen house from Saint Louis, Missouri. I’m studying environmental science and policy, reading too many books and attempting to crochet. I can’t wait to study abroad in China in the spring.