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Staying Sustainable at School

2014 August 6

By Maddie Dwyer

As fall approaches, there’s one thing on every college kid’s mind: living on campus. Whether you’re excited or not, dorm life is coming, and it’s time to start getting ready. For me, this means using the things I learned at EPA this summer. Below are some tips for green living, which can help you whether you’re living in a dorm or an apartment, or at home.

  1. Saving Energy: It’s easy to save energy by making a few simple changes to your routine. Remember to always turn off the lights when you leave your room. If you’re lucky enough to have air conditioning, and the luxury of controlling it, make sure it’s not left on if no one’s around.
  2. Conserving Water: There are lots of ways to use water efficiently. Take shorter showers and turn off the water when you are using soap, shaving, or brushing your teeth. Also, fixing leaky faucets is an important way to reduce wasted water.
  3. Reducing Waste: College is a great time to get into sustainable habits. Make a commitment to recycle everything you can, even if it means carrying recyclables until you find a recycling bin. Most campuses offer green dining options, like reusable take out boxes, glasses, and silverware. Take advantage of all the green options your school has to offer!
  4. Getting Involved: Every school is different, and will have different environmental issues to address. For example, as part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, my school is working to construct bioswales to filter run-off before it reaches the bay. Check out EPA’s resources for students looking to be greener at school. Whether you are advocating for safer cleaning products or encouraging energy efficient appliances, your school will be better off with your involvement.
  5. Make a Green Agreement with Your Roommate: Helping one another is a great way to make both you and your roommate more sustainable. Ask if it’s okay to unplug each other’s unused electronics, do laundry together, and figure out a schedule to keep the lights and AC off. I’ve been lucky to have lovely roommates and other amazing friends who are committed to green living, and it has helped me to become more sustainable every day.
Maddie and her roommate Grace

Maddie and her roommate Grace

So when moving back to campus, be sure to keep these tips in mind and have a wonderful, sustainable school year!

About the author:  Maddie Dwyer studies environmental science and policy at the University of Maryland. She works as an intern for EPA’s Office of Web Communications.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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3 Responses leave one →
  1. Dan Fedak permalink
    August 6, 2014

    Hey Maddie, what about changing light bulbs to cfl’s, showering after 9pm when electric rates go down. (phantom loads) Unplug or install a surge protector to shut off the electronics.” they still draw amps in the off position”

  2. Dumet School permalink
    August 11, 2014

    Thank you so much for useful information. Really appreciate it.

  3. Peiwen Wang permalink
    October 1, 2014

    Hey Maddie, Thank you for sharing the idea!
    I think behavioral change from demand side will be a good way to stay sustainable at School. By the way, it’s important to quantify the possible savings. It will be more motivated for people to do once the saving is visualized.
    Also, technical change from the supply side can be a much better solution for sustainability. Schools can save more energy by remodeling the building to become more energy efficient,reduce carbon emission by changing power plants’ conventional energy source into clean and renewable energy, and increase the waste recycle efficiency by provide a clear guideline for disposal.

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