Sustainability On Campus

By Tracy A. Tchintchin


School is right around the corner and many of us are shuffling to prepare ourselves for the new year.  As we head back to campus, we are reminded that remaining eco-friendly in a conventional environment can be difficult – and also a bit pricey.  We all are familiar with the limitations of the typical college student budget; however, students around the country are making an effort to promote conservation on campus in small but significant steps.


One key to sustainability on campus lies in making use of local resources.  When furnishing dorm rooms, visit thrift or second hand stores to shop for used furniture.  Doing so would reduce the demand for commercially manufactured furniture and would also avoid adding to the bulk of landfills.  Yard sales are also a good outlet for used furniture, and when shopping for eco-friendly dorm room furnishings, be sure check online!  Also remember to resell or pass the furniture on when items are no longer of use.

In dorm rooms or apartments, turning off the lights when they are not in use helps reduce carbon emissions. In addition, we should unplug chargers and set our laptops to sleep mode or shut them off when they are not being used.  Conserving water helps reduce the burden of distribution systems and water treatment plants, so turn off the faucet when running water is not needed and refrain from washing clothes until you have a full load.  When cleaning, using green laundry detergents and organic cleaning solutions will reduce the amount of chemicals that end up in our water cycle, and greatly reduce pollution.  Avoid letting harsh substances find their way into our water supply. 

The meals provided by the majority of college campuses aren’t very healthy.  Fast foods chains and packaged goods seem to dominate the food market.  To prevent falling into the habit of eating these foods, visit a local supermarket that sells organic foods and learn to fix your meals.  Your body will thank you!  Visit search for supermarkets that sell healthy foods in your area.  Shopping at farmers markets are also a good alternative to dining at the school cafeteria.  Regularly packing our meals can substantially reduce our carbon footprint.  Use a reusable lunch box instead of a paper or plastic bag, and reusable containers instead of plastic baggies and foil. Remember to recycle plastics and aluminum or better yet, invest in a stainless steel water bottle.  Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.  Go a step further and make sure that they are organic.  When practicing these habits, we create less waste and decrease the demand for manufactured materials.

Try starting a green revolution on your campus!  You can make simple changes and encourage your friends to do the same.  Join a sustainable club on campus to monitor your school’s usage of soaps, pesticides and other potentially harmful substances.  You will be benefiting the overall health and wellbeing of your fellow classmates as well as the planet we inhabit.  Make a difference this year!


"Gree   Green Student U." GreenStudentU: Green Students, Environmental Education, & Eco-Lifestyles. N.p., n.d. Web. Aug. 2012.      .

"Sust       Sustainable Campus Home Page." Sustainable Campus Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. Aug. 2012. .




tracy_resizedTracy A. Tchintchin is a student at the Pennsylvania State University studying Health Policy and Administration.  She is pursuing a career in dentistry with a special interest in holistic care.  She is also a member of the university’s United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). When she isn’t studying, she can be found painting, reading, participating in cultural events and volunteering.

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