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Carrington College Blog

Simple-Yet-Effective Ways to Go Green on a College Budget

September 14, 2011

These days, going green isn’t so much a statement of activism as it is a statement of awareness. The idea of a more sensible approach to consumption and production has gained ground quickly not only because of its value to the environment and the health of mankind, but also because of its value to your pocketbook. There is a much vaster wave of repercussions and benefits to going green than ever before.

So, who would be keener to the green tidal wave than the future of our nation? College students. They’re politically mindful and they’re always looking for ways to save money. Sure, they may also have the awareness thing down, but in the chaos that is college life, many easy and rewarding opportunities to go green may be overlooked.


Let’s start with reducing your waste production and impact on the environment.


Solar literature: One way to divert your energy is use to more natural sources. Need to do some heavy reading? Use the sunlight. Reading outside cuts down on your electric bill, and you may find it reduces stress and helps keep you awake better than the dreary glow of a desk lamp. Speaking of lovely weather, if you pay close attention, you may find more opportunities to leave your windows open, which not only cools down your house or apartment it also brings in a healthy dose of unbeatable fresh air and costs you nothing.

solar-ovenGreenie Roast: Reduce your carbon footprint by hosting a solar cooker party. You can build your own with the help of YouTube, which houses a wide variety of DIY videos that walk you through the process. Most designs require relatively cheap ingredients that you might have lying around already, such as cardboard boxes, black paint, and tin foil.

Natural Products: Concerned about the effects of using harsh chemicals found in household cleaners and pesticides? There are many homemade formulations that combine common household items including spices, soap, peppers, cooking oil, and vinegar to help keep your house clean. Not only will these have a less detrimental effect on the environment, they can be made in smaller batches out of safe supplies that may already be in your kitchen cabinets. Plus you’ll no longer have to worry about housing bottles of toxic junk with warning labels so foreboding you’re afraid to put lighter fluid next to it.



Dumpster dive: The concept of dumpster diving is no longer the respite of hobos looking for rags and leftover food; it has evolved into an acceptable form of commerce. Dumpster diving now includes everything from digging through trash or monitoring student apartment complex mass exoduses to browsing upper-crust neighborhood trash pick-up dates. Either way you’re sure to find at the very least a delightful coffee table that became bothersome to the previous owners merely because they bought a newer, hipper one. One important warning when it comes to furniture: beware of bed bugs. Avoid picking up plush furniture like seemingly unmolested couches and armchairs that could have been ditched in an effort to eradicate the bloodsuckers.


Around the house: Make your next party a green one. You can re-use the cases the soda came in as wastebaskets for that very same soda. Strive to make the disposable red party cup a thing of the past; your local 99-cent store ought to have some sturdier reusable ones that will fast surpass the disposable sort in value and lack of waste production. And lastly, opt for aluminum cans over glass bottles; they’re much easier to recycle.



Composting: All you really need for this one is the right kind of garbage and container to hold it. At a very basic level, compost piles require carbon, nitrogen, air, and moisture to create the proper environment for the microbes that break down your trash. Among the appropriate items are grass clippings, leaves, fruits and vegetables, eggshells, coffee grounds, sawdust, and the list goes on. Make sure to not use any kind of meats, oils, and human or pet excrement that can cause odor and disease and attract pests. There are many different container options, both closed and open; do a little research and find out which ones can work best for the items you expect to be composting and also for what can work best in your climate. Turn your container or churn the compost regularly so that there is fresh air circulating throughout; otherwise you may end up with pockets of built- up CO2 that nurture the organisms breaking your trash down in a much smellier way. You may also need to add a little water as necessary to maintain a moist environment. In return you get free, nutrient-rich soil that can be used to grow your own vegetables or to add organic material to those barren spots on the lawn.


Recycling Programs: Many towns and cities have recycling services, but some place restrictions on certain items. Contact your local recycling service provider to make sure you’re recycling the right types of containers. Luckily, for the municipalities without recycling services, there are often independent companies that focus on recycling. These companies operate under the assumption that they will make money off materials that the general populous views as seemingly useless, and are often willing to arrange for pickups of these items from any high volume areas, including offices and educational facilities. In most cases, there will be no charge for the service; it simply necessitates an opening of the lines of communication. So, be the bold and explore the options for your frat house, apartment building or neighborhood recycling options.