There is no better time than the beginning of a new school year to get started on a fresh lifestyle. Green living has become increasingly important and trendy over the last decade and there has been an influx of resources and ideas to help people reduce their environmental waste in cheap, simple and convenient ways.
As evidenced by the lack of parking around town this past weekend, move-in day has come and gone, complete with the usual excess trash. So, what is a poor college student to do to kick off the school year the right way?
Most of us have heard it before: reduce, reuse, recycle. Though it seems like a silly reminder from childhood, these really are three words to live by as you settle into your residence hall room, apartment or house. These words have significant meaning and putting them into action can help illustrate their purpose more clearly.
One of the best ways to protect the environment is to divert waste from landfills. On move-in day, it is easy to relieve your stress by tossing anything you think you might not need and getting it out of the way. But there are many ways you could reuse that item in your new living space.
Cardboard packing boxes can be used as storage containers or recycling bins. You can also recycle them by using your old boxes the next time you or a friend needs to ship items home or move. With more than 20,000 students on campus, you can certainly find someone who could make use of the oversized floor lamp, microwave or pile of T-shirts that do not fit in your tiny room.
When decorating or buying supplies for your bedroom this school year, remember to reduce the amount of purchases you make to what is absolutely necessary. If you find yourself buying an item you know will be thrown away at the end of the year, consider purchasing something with a little more longevity.
After reducing the number of items you use, continue to reuse them in fresh ways for as long as possible. Be creative in finding hidden treasures at thrift stores, garage sales, your parents’ house and even in your own closet. Each item you reuse is one less that ends up as waste in a landfill.
Finally, recycle what you no longer need or cannot use. Whether you donate these items to the Salvation Army or take them to a recycling center, you can rest assured you have done the best you could to avoid taking the easy way out and throwing everything in the trash. In the long run, this type of thoughtful and conscious decision-making will end up saving you money, and most broke college students can’t argue with that.
Molly Hamm is a senior in English and secondary education and is the founder of K-State’s “Greeks Go Green,” the first greek sustainability organization in the U.S.