Sustainability on Campus

May 20, 2024
a graphic earth with large hands cupping it; people doing recycling and planting tasks to help

Sustainability requires everyone to do their part

Jasmine Cardenas

As we pass Earth Day, it is valuable to our planet to be conscientious about our waste and sustainability as college students. Here are a few ways we can be sustainable on campus and at home. 

For starters, we need to note why it is important to be as sustainable as possible. Our planet depends on us to take care of it and do our part. Living sustainably sounds difficult or challenging but in reality, it can be very easy as the smallest changes can make a difference. Sustainability is important, especially now, because we want to be able to maximize our resources for as long as possible. Ideally we want to minimize our impact on things like air, waste, and water.

Bamboo made household items

Here are some environmentally friendly changes you can make in your everyday life. 

  1. Minimizing single use plastic is an excellent way to cut back on waste, and swapping to reusable materials is the best alternative. Reusable ziploc-like bags are available and very easy to clean and maintain. Swapping out plastic toothbrushes for bamboo ones is a very impactful way to cut back on plastic waste. The bamboo one can even be tossed in the compost bin instead of ending up in our landfill. There are a lot of plastic household items that can be swapped out with bamboo ones. Next time you head to the dining hall, kitchens, or SIP, bring your own reusable cup from home. Don’t forget, there are many water bottle filling stations throughout campus for you to use as well! 

[Related Blog Post: Simple Ways to Save Your Health, Money, and Planet: Tip 4 -]

Use a Reusable Water Bottle]

  1. When it comes to clothing, thrift shops are awesome! There has been an increase in thrift stores in many suburban areas making thrifting more accessible. Thrifting is not only more affordable but it helps limit fast fashion that is often tossed and sent to landfills. Another great way to minimize clothing waste and can be totally free, is swapping clothing items! SSU holds fashion swaps you can keep an eye out for where you can take home some new-to-you items.  

  1. Unplugging devices or appliances when you are not using them cuts back on the amount of power and energy being used in your home. Some items you can try this out with would be your phone charger, hairdryer, blender, or toaster.

  2. Beeswax Wrap

    Limit the length of your showers and be sure to turn the water off when brushing your teeth. A lot of us like plants, chances are we have small little plants around and want to water them. You can reduce water usage through harvesting water when it rains and storing them in small containers for when you need to water some plants in your dorm. It’ll also help a lot if the plants you have are smaller so that they use less water and minimize your water waste. If you live off campus, you can modify the water pressure of your home to control the flow of water. 

  3. If you do need to purchase disposable items, purchase paper items! Paper items are great for one time use materials and are more sustainable than plastic or styrofoam. On campus you can reduce plastic use in your dorm! This means sticking to reusable containers, using notebooks made of recycled paper, and investing in water purifiers so you do not need to buy and use single use plastic bottles of water.

Rain water stored in reusable jars

As sustainability awareness grows, so do the alternatives. You can find many different things like reusable beeswax food wraps to use instead of traditional saran wrap. There has even been an effort made to produce more recycled items like phone cases made up of older reused cases.

On campus, you can join clubs like Students for Sustainability as well as other organizations that uphold the sustainability core value like the Center for Community Engagement, Center for Environmental Inquiry, Geography, Environment, and Planning Club, and more. The effort to become more sustainable is rooted in wanting a healthy planet. We want to ensure we have plenty of resources to last us as long as possible. We are the voice for the Earth. The current condition of the planet is because of humans. But, we are also the solution. Let's continue to aid our planet for as long as possible and maintain sustainability.

Shannon Casteel, President of the Students for Sustainability Club here on campus and second year Biochemistry major, believes that students should know about sustainability because we, as college students, are the future of society.

“Soon enough the majority of the employed people will be millenials/gen z, including our government employees. This gives us a chance to change things.”

Casteel believes, as do many environmental/sustainability activists, that “we, as growing young adults, and as climate change worsens, need to figure out how we can coexist with earth and improve conditions.” 
We love our planet; it's time to start showing it that love through these small and impactful efforts.