8 Ways to Live Green on Campus

Friday, June 24, 2011

Photo credit: Jonathan Rausseo

I will never forget when I was a student and the Government of Canada announced the ONE TONNE CHALLENGE, a program that encouraged Canadians to reduce their carbon footprint by one tonne in order to help the country meet its Kyoto obligations.

And then I will never forget when I got the first pamphlet for students to take up the challenge. “Buy an energy efficient furnace – buy a hybrid vehicle – conduct an energy audit of your home”. Yeah not really the kind of thing that a poor student is going to be able to do. So, after all these years, here is a list of the top ten things you can do on campus to live a green lifestyle and reduce your environmental footprint.

Do it in the dark
Get your mind out of the gutter! But seriously, turn off the lights when you are not in a room. You would be surprised how many people still have the bad habit of over-lighting (using more light that you need) or ghost-lighting (lighting areas where no one is around). You can also do your part by using more task-lighting (using lamps to more effectively light your workspace rather than just lighting an entire room ineffectively).

In the past couple of years the campus has become plastic bag free and bottled water free. Both of these programs are designed to encourage people to Bring Your Own BAG and Bring Your Own Bottle. But you can do more. You would be surprised how many good things happen when you bring your own stuff. For example, if you bring your own coffee mug to campus on Mondays you can take part in Muggy Mondays (free coffee, tea, or hot chocolate for those with a reusable mug) or if you bring some Tupperware on Wednesdays, PRD will fill it with free vegan food.

Use your U-pass
This really isn’t that hard to do but seriously, you should use your pass whenever you get the chance. Not just to go from one side of the campus to the other, but to get to know your city a little. Just a little fact, each person that uses a car to commute to campus generates 8 times more greenhouse gas emissions than someone who takes the bus. Learn more about the U-pass

Get a Paper-Cut
Last year we did some number crunching and it turns out that our campus uses over 100 million pieces of paper every year. Well it turns out that there are tones of ways to reduce your paper load. First, every printer and photocopier has been updated and can print double-sided paper. Second, you can also sell back your textbooks to the bookstore so that others can use them in the future. You can even use e-books if they are available. And finally, ask your prof if you can submit your assignments electronically. Many people think that their prof want allow it but more and more, submitting on-line is becoming the norm.

Eat locally
Eating locally is becoming a more and more popular thing. And why not, locally sourced food generates way less greenhouse gasses. On campus a few places offer local food, most notably local bread at the Café Ecolo and local beer at the Café Nostalgica. And if you want some more substantial local offerings, check out Market Organics on York St.

Get to know your bike
It is true that bicycle use balloons on campus in the summer time but in comparison to cities, like Copenhagen, we can do better. Slowly cycling infrastructure and programs on campus are improving. There is now a bike share program a secure bike enclosure, a bike coop, and oodles of more bike racks on campus. And if that isn’t enough for you, keep your eyes out for Car Free Day, Bike to Work Week, and the new Bicycle User Groups sprouting up around campus.

Activate the energy settings on your computer
I know this seems like I am reaching way back into the stone age with this one but seriously, check the power settings on your computer. Make sure your computer goes in to standby mode in an appropriate amount of time (something like 5 to 10 minutes). Just a quick tip, many screen savers actually use more energy than leaving your computer running normally. And if you want to improve your energy efficiency will surfing the web, reduce the amount of tabs that you have open. Each additional tab draws more energy. Green computing tips for your computer

Eat less meat
Eating meat represents as much CO2 generation as driving a Hummer all the time. I know it is hard to believe but it is true. Now I am not saying you have to go vegan or anything but cutting back a little couldn’t hurt. There are a tonne of places on campus that you can go to find some good meat alternatives. At the top of my list is Café Alt, Nostalgica, and the Perfection Satisfaction Promise restaurant on Laurier.

Hope this helps. Get back to me if you have any thing you would to add.


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