Waste Reduction for the College Lifestyle – Part 1

Remember back in elementary school when you learned about the three Rs? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Well, the three Rs still apply even though you’re in college now! Let me remind you why these three concepts are so important. Americans consume three times more stuff now than they did in 1960. This consumption rate would require 1.3 Earths to keep up with the demand (World Watch Institute). Well, since we have only one Earth, we need to get better about reducing, reusing and recycling our waste.

The first step is to reduce how much stuff we consume in the first place. This means actions like not buying a new cell phone every time a new design comes out or buying groceries with less packaging.

Below are some ideas that should fit into your life as a college student.
Schoolwork waste reduction ideas:

-When your pen runs out from all your note-taking, don’t buy a whole new pen. Just buy a new ink cartridge.

-Use refillable ink cartridges for your printer. That way, when it runs out, you can just go back to the store and have it refilled.

-Don’t print e-mails. If your e-mail program has a “folders” feature, just organize your e-mails into folders and print only when necessary.

-When you need to print off class notes or research, print double-sided to save paper.

-At the beginning of the semester, ask your professor if the papers you hand in can be printed double-sided.

Kitchen waste reduction ideas:
-Have you seen those stainless steel drink bottles? Drink from those on-the-go instead of using single serve plastic bottles.

-Did you notice how much packaging your last take-out order came with? Heavy plastic bowls with plastic lids, plastic utensils and a paper bag with a plastic handle? Dine-in, when you can, to reduce your consumption of this packaging.

-Next time you’re at the grocery store, buy some reusable fabric shopping bags instead of using plastic grocery bags.

-Taking your lunch from home tomorrow? Don’t pack your PB&J in a throw-away plastic bag, put it in a reusable container.

-Ask your dining hall if it can start offering fewer disposable food containers (like Styrofoam trays and throw-away plates) and more reusable containers (like hard plastic trays and plates).

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