8 Green Initiatives for College Campuses

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Campuses all around the globe have been finding ways to go green. With various environmental issues, like climate change, pollution, habitat destruction and filled landfills, students everywhere want to make the earth a healthier and better place to live. 

Sustainability goes beyond reducing, reusing and recycling, although those three practices are still essential. Going green involves ensuring that future generations have the same, or better, opportunities you have today, from an environmental, social and economic position. 

Students, professors and leaders on college campuses can make a significant difference in both their campus communities and communities beyond by starting to make small changes in habits in their day-to-day lives. Here are eight green initiatives for college campuses. 

1. Grow a Campus Garden

Campus gardens are becoming more popular at universities and colleges everywhere. Students can come together to plant produce or even raise livestock that can be used in the dining halls or provide free fresh food for the surrounding community. It’s a great way to reduce emissions from food transportation. Plus, students can learn about growing food in an urban setting, preparing them for life after college. 

2. Encourage Reusable Water Bottles

There are too many single-use plastic water bottles to count that end up in landfills and in the environment through pollution. Many schools have been trying to counteract this by adding more water fountains and refill stations. This encourages students to use reusable water bottles instead of purchasing single-use plastic bottles of water. Having multiple refill stations makes it easy for people on campus to rehydrate sustainably. 

3. Set Out Distinct Receptacles for Trash and Recycling

Another simple green initiative for college campuses is to set out various receptacles for trash and recycling. Campuses can encourage recycling by providing recycling bins for different materials, like paper, plastic, aluminum and glass. When students have a place to put their recyclables, they’ll be more likely to participate in this sustainable act. Students can also compost food scraps if the campus installs a compost bin to eliminate waste. 

4. Opt for Low-Emission Transportation

College kids love their freedom, which means many bring their vehicles to campus so they can go anywhere they want whenever they want. However, having thousands of cars on campus increases emissions, and on larger campuses, students may opt to drive to their classes. Instead, colleges can encourage students to carpool, walk or bike around campus. Additionally, students can use public transportation or participate in a carsharing or bike-sharing program. 

5. Offer Environmental Degrees and Organizations

Colleges need to teach subjects that can help the students on campus understand the importance of environmental issues and possibly enter a career path that promotes conservation and sustainability. These can either be in the form of individual courses for a degree or electives. If this isn’t an option for colleges, then the students can take the initiative to start clubs or organizations to teach others about sustainability on campus. 

6. Limit Food Waste

College campuses are notorious for food waste. Thousands of people on campus can lead to thousands of pounds of food waste every week. Dining halls often have to produce enough food for a certain percentage of the campus population. If students don’t show up or don’t like what’s being served, most of that food ends up in the trash. Campuses can provide containers for students to take leftovers or start a composting program through the dining hall. 

7. Invest in Clean Energy

Investing in clean energy is an excellent way for college campuses to go green. Although clean energy such as solar power and wind power have been becoming more popular, many buildings on college campuses still rely on nonrenewable energy sources for heating and cooling, electricity and other power needs. Colleges can easily invest in solar energy and can place solar panels on the rooftops of buildings or even create a solar field off-campus as an energy source.

8. Choose Electronics Over Paper

The world has adopted digital communication, learning and other applications. Many colleges are equipped with online versions of once-paper material. Professors opt to use electronic textbooks over paper ones, and students take notes digitally via laptops or tablets. As long as college students and faculty continue choosing electronic learning instead of traditional paper products, they’re becoming greener. Colleges that still opt for paper can participate in recycling and textbook buy-back programs to limit paper waste. 

Try These Green Initiatives for College Campuses

Whether you’re a professor, student or other staff of a college, you can use these green initiative ideas to make your campus more environmentally friendly. Do it for the planet and for yourself!

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About the author

Jane Marsh

Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.