Reducing Consumption on Campus
With the record number of students at Iowa State this year, consumption of paper/coffee cups/EVERYTHING is bound to be at an all time high. It’s great to have such a busy, buzzing campus, but along with that comes plenty of wasted materials. Here are a few simple tips to help you form good habits for the school year.
Carpool/bike/bus/walk to class
A lot of students are living off campus, meaning classes are no longer a hop, skip, and a jump away from your door. Instead of driving individually to campus each day, try comparing schedules with friends and come up with a carpool schedule. If you prefer to work on your own schedule, biking is another great option. As far as I know, there are no wicked steep hills in Ames, so your route to campus won’t have you feeling like you’re participating in Le Tour de France. Campus also has tons of bike racks and some bike lanes here and there, so it’s easy to get around. Taking CyRide is great when you’re farther away, and walking is the perfect time to enjoy the scenery and clear your thoughts. So many options better than wasting gas (and money!) every single day.
If you’re a big coffee drinker, chances are you’re a frequent cafe visitor. Even if you just grab a couple cups of coffee once a week, that’s still around 60 paper cups, plastic lids, and cardboard sleeves that you’re tossing out each year. If you invest in one reusable coffee mug or thermos, not only are you preventing all of that waste, but you also get 35 cents off your drink in all ISU cafes! That might not seem like a lot, but say you had coffee all 5 days of the week, you’d save $1.75! That’s another cup of coffee (whooo!). Another benefit to having a thermos is that you’re generally just charged for a small since it usually doesn’t say how big it is on the thermos. Yay, more coffee. Same goes for water bottles, just grab a reusable one and fill up as much as you want! Reusable ones look snazzier anyway.
Ditch the plastic bags
Now that we’re all living outside of our childhood homes, groceries have become our own responsibility. A weekly trip to the grocery store gets you all of the essentials for cooking, late night snacks, and TONS of plastic bags. Those pesky plastic grocery sacks pile up everywhere and mostly just get in the way of everything. There are some smart ways to reuse them, sure, but even better: get a reusable bag! Reusable bags are stronger and less likely to break and drop your fruit all over the ground, plus they can often fit more food in them, reducing the number of bags you have to carry. Another benefit is that you often get a small discount for going reusable instead of plastic. Again, it’s not a huge chunk of change, but overtime, it adds up!
Another place to ditch the plastic bag on campus is when buying meal bundles. Sure, it’s nice to bag up your entire lunch/dinner so you have it altogether, but nine times out of 10, you probably have your backpack with you. You can toss it all in there and kiss your plastic addiction goodbye.
Stop taking flyers
Flyers are everywhere on campus, and when you walk by somebody handing them out, it’s easy to go on autopilot and grab one. But you don’t need to! Most information on flyers is available online, through email, or you can just talk to the person if you’re interested. If you’re interested in what the person has to say, definitely grab one so you can learn the information, but there’s no need to mindlessly grab it just because it’s put in front of you. Groups that hand out flyers will look at how many were given out and decide on how many are needed for their next event, so the fewer that are taken, the fewer they’ll print next time.
That being said, if you are part of an organization that wants to advertise a meeting or event, try out some alternate methods for sharing your information. Mass emails can be sent out for a lower cost than flyers can be printed, a few large posters in busy spots could be successful, tabling in the free speech zone works, or sharing information on social media gets the job done. Next time you’re putting on an event, try one of these methods out!
Reformat your printing
Think about how many readings/study guides you have to print out each year, and then think about how much paper that requires–TONS! So get creative! As long as you’re not printing out an assignment for class that has to be formatted in a certain way, you have free reign on how you lay out each paper you print. Microsoft Word has some pretty nifty features that allow you to condense each page so you can fit anywhere from two to six pages on one single sheet of paper. Print front and back on that piece of paper and you can print out a 12 page paper on a single sheet, how crazy is that?! It keeps your backpack light and your binder more organized as well, so give it a shot!
Rent products you need
Sometimes you need an object for class that you don’t already have and don’t want to spend a lot of money on. Renting is what you need to do! ISU has several great rental services. If you need a nice camera for a project, a tripod for making a video, or speakers for an event, check in with the Communications Building. They rent out all sorts of equipment like that. If you’re hoping to go on a weekend camping trip and don’t have everything that you need, check in with Outdoor Rec for a tent, sleeping bag, or even just some general sports equipment. They have everything! Finally, if you live in a residence hall, most of them have vacuums, cleaning supplies, and even movies for you to rent. Instead of newly buying everything you need all of the time, reuse items that you can rent on campus! It’ll save you some money and the materials needed to make new products constantly.
As the year goes on, I’m sure you’ll come up with your own ways to reduce consumption, but these are just a few things to keep in mind!