Let’s face it, the planet is not in good shape, and it’s going to take a group effort to change it. But good news! You’re already doing better than you may think. Sustainability is essentially being frugal, and no one knows frugal like broke college kids. You personally make an impact with every choice you make: how you get to school, what you eat and whatever you use to check Facebook. Here are some super simple tips to show how you stack up.
How you get to school is important. If you’re not one of the ubiquitous bikers on campus, chances are, you’re a pedestrian trying to dodge them. Both of these options are great because they rely on the most renewable resource out there, you! Even scooters are good options; they use minimal fuel to ferry you (and a friend) around campus. But if you must drive a car, packing it to the brim is the best way to go – just make sure your clown car impression includes seatbelts for everyone.
Speaking of high occupancy vehicles, Gainesville students have a fantastic advantage in staying sustainable, thanks to the Regional Transit Service. RTS offers students free bus rides to numerous routes throughout Gainesville, at all hours of the day. Public transportation is fantastically efficient at carrying massive amounts of people around and leaving a relatively low carbon footprint. They also reduce the number of cars on the road, decreasing traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.
Food may well be the highlight of many college students’ days, even if it’s at the dining hall. But by choosing to eat at places that serve locally grown or organic food, or choosing vegan and vegetarian options, students can easily reduce their impact on the environment. Local and organic foods require less non-renewable resources to grow and ship the crops and are more nutrient-rich. Conveniently, many dining facilities at the University of Florida are offering more of these options, labeling them and offering informational kiosks about the importance of choosing these foods.
Sustainable and frugal behaviors coincide once again with technology. The more efficient the battery life of your gadgets, the less you have to charge them, saving both money and energy. So look for electronics that have long battery life or are rated as energy efficient.
Many students that live off-campus reside in apartments that assign them an electricity cap. Most of us have experienced running into this cap at least once, and it’s not always cheap. By staying under the cap, students can be economical yet sustainable. Turning off lights when you’re not in the room, unplugging appliances when not in use and installing power strips are easy, effective ways to lower your energy bill and your carbon footprint.
So how do you fare? By continuing to make simple, conscious choices you can easily make a difference in the world around you. Stay tuned for more ways you can do your part!