As April is now coined Earth Month, it is time for students to reevaluate the lifestyle that they pursue both on and off campus. By recycling, choosing alternative transportation methods and changing study methods, they can easily become much “greener” individuals.
Beginning with the most obvious way to increase sustainable practices, recycling is something all students can do with ease both on and off campus. In virtually every building, students have the option to recycle bottles and cans, as well as paper and cardboard, when they are throwing out trash. The abundance of opportunities to easily separate your trash allows for all students to create the habit of recycling. Beyond campus, the state of North Carolina offers many ways for individuals to recycle even more products. For instance, one can recycle electronic devices, metals, batteries and even cars at certain drop-off locations throughout the state.
When it comes to food consumption, there are many ways that Wake Forest students can live more sustainably with a little bit more effort. First off, always bring reusable bags when shopping to reduce your use of plastic and paper bags. Another easy switch is to start buying snacks and other dorm staples in bulk. To do so, go to Publix or Whole Foods with a few mason jars and fill up with nuts, dried fruits, trail mix and more. Not only are these snacks healthier, but buying in bulk completely reduces the waste that comes along with extra packaging.
Although it requires a bit more willpower, reducing one’s meat consumption is another option for reducing waste. The production of meat contributes to the existence of greenhouse gases, destroys fertile land and uses an extremely large quantity of water, so simply participating in “meatless Mondays” could immensely reduce one’s carbon footprint. This is particularly easy at Wake Forest, as there are many vegetarian options, including the omelette, pasta and vegan stations at the Fresh Food Company.
Another obvious way to live a more sustainable life is to purchase a reusable water bottle. With an abundance of water fountains on campus, there is no need to purchase a plastic water bottle every time you are thirsty. To further reduce waste, students should also invest in a plastic or metal reusable straw, which can be easily cleaned with a rinse or wipe. By carrying this around in your backpack or purse, there is no need to use the wasteful, flimsy plastic straws that most restaurants distribute.
While most college students are already avid computer users, many still take handwritten notes. By transitioning to an electronic note-taking system, students can reduce their paper waste immensely, while also consolidating their academic materials. Especially with the high storage capacity of programs like Google Drive, the switch to electronic notes is easy for all.
Lastly, students should invest in bikes to always have on campus. Even though it is convenient to jump in a car to get across campus, bikes are a much cleaner transportation option. While promoting your physical wellbeing, you will also be working to help reduce air pollution. Another way to pursue this idea is to utilize Wake Forest’s shuttles that run everywhere from Downtown to Hanes Mall. Instead of using your individual car, this form of “carpooling” is a combined effort to reduce emissions.
To become even more cognizant of how your actions affect the environment, the Office of Sustainability provides many different routes of learning. For instance, they offer workshops and lectures to learn more about recycling, among other topics. The office also offers volunteer opportunities for those interested in actively working to increase “green” practices on campus.
Living sustainably at Wake Forest is not, and should not, be difficult. By adopting these simple tips and tricks, all students can easily transform into environmentally-aware citizens.