Generation Z shows a greater concern for the environment than other demographics. Young adults are more likely to recycle, thrift, buy locally and engage in green activism. Colleges can support their eco-conscious students by creating sustainable campuses.
Some students struggle to shrink their carbon footprints when living in dorms. They are unable to control appliances’ energy uses and their power sources. Universities can work with eco-conscious students to meet global sustainability goals by reducing atmospheric and surface-level waste.
College Sustainability Goals
Some universities are promoting green living to achieve their independent environmental goals. Most schools follow the United Nations (UN) sustainability efforts to prevent adverse climate change effects. In 2015 the UN established the Paris Agreement, which will lower global temperatures by 1.5º C at the least.
The top green colleges in the U.S. set decarbonization or net-zero goals. The University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill has a zero-emission, landfill waste and freshwater usage goal. UNC achieves its sustainability target by installing new technologies and programs around its campus.
Install Recycling Stations Around Campus
Colleges can follow UNC’s ambitious climate actions by installing recycling stations around their campuses. Many students want to shrink their carbon footprint by minimizing landfill waste. Universities can increase students’ access to recycling by building efficient systems.
Colorado State University has an efficient recycling and waste diversion system. The school cleans and sorts through recyclable materials on campus. Professionals also recycle e-waste accumulated at the university.
Other colleges may improve their recycling systems by increasing the number of recycling cans on campus. They can also develop clear sorting guides to increase students’ education and awareness. Additionally, universities can hold used material drives and exchanges to reduce landfill waste.
Build a Community Garden
Colleges can also encourage green living on campuses by building community gardens. Vegetable gardens may significantly reduce individuals’ carbon footprints. Outsourced vegetables generate transportation emissions, which degrade the atmosphere.
Community gardens also help students minimize food waste. Most students grocery shop and cook for themselves. Stores often pre-portion products for families, creating food waste over time.
Vegetable gardens allow students to take what they need and leave the remaining produce for other consumers. They also reduce packaging waste because store-bought vegetables come in bags or plastic containers. Students may bring reusable containers to the garden and personally transport their goods.
Reduce Students’ Reliance on Paper
Some universities are making a fully digital transition to reduce paper waste. When professors rely on paper for homework assignments and other projects, they contribute to deforestation. Preserving Earth’s natural vegetation is essential to emission reduction efforts.
A single tree can absorb and filter about 48 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Professors and students can promote natural carbon filtration by reusing old papers and creating digital assignments. Online platforms help teachers evaluate students’ work without influencing deforestation.
When professors must use paper in their classrooms, they should use recycled paper. Using paper from 80% to 100% recycled materials can significantly minimize deforestation. It also reduces landfill waste.
Start a Composting Program
Another way to encourage green living on college campuses is by creating a composting program. It is difficult for students living in dorms to create their own composts. Developing a campus-wide program may help students engage in their ideal sustainable lifestyles.
Individuals may place organic waste in a university’s compost to minimize methane emissions. Composting creates nutrient-rich materials, which you can combine with the soil. The materials reduce soil erosion by improving water retention rates, and it increases crop yields.
Some universities have compost bins on campus where individuals can drop off their organic waste. Other areas have compost pickup services for off-campus students, increasing their access to sustainability services.
Install Energy Efficient Appliances
Universities can also improve students’ access to sustainable lifestyles by installing energy-efficient appliances in dorms and classrooms. About 48% of residential energy use in America comes from heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Smart thermostats target HVAC emissions by reducing their energy reliance.
The technology uses the internet of things (IoT) and sensors to maintain highly efficient temperatures. Maintenance professionals can also install light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs throughout campuses to reduce energy-related emissions. LED lights are about 75% more power-efficient compared to incandescent bulbs.
Connecting the lights to solar array power sources can additionally improve campus sustainability. Photovoltaic panels produce accessible electricity at a lower cost than fossil fuels. Universities can also reduce emissions by installing more bike racks.
Add Bike Racks and Shelters Around the Campus
Many students try to shrink their carbon footprints with alternative forms of transportation. Moreover, if universities lack bike racks and shelters, students may feel uncomfortable bringing their bikes to campus. Installing more bike shelters is essential to reducing the transportation sector’s 7.3 billion tons of annual emissions.
Holding Universities Accountable
Eco-conscious students are holding universities accountable for their atmospheric and surface-level pollution. College applicants are now taking sustainability into account when choosing a university. Universities must respond to green concerns by installing more energy-efficient appliances and constructing more green buildings.
Many universities are also establishing sustainability programs. Students expect colleges to practice what they preach and hold them to high sustainability standards. Creating active green programs and clubs on campuses can minimize waste and improve conservation efforts.
Kara Reynolds is the Editor-in-Chief of Momish Magazine and believes in science, that climate change is real, and is doing her part to keep Mother Earth healthy for the future of her four kids.