Being a student is the best time of your life, the adults say. It does come without responsibility and a shred of care about the world, but it is synonymous with living on limited money and growing up without many of the comforts which we had at home, if you live in a hostel. As I am typing this from my small dorm room with limited amenities, I wonder how I can go green with constricted finance, resources and facilities.
If you feel that your home needs to become more energy efficient, you can switch to solar panels. If you believe that there needs to be better management of water, you can opt for rainwater harvesting. If you want a more balanced diet, you can switch to organic fruits and vegetables. If you believe your air conditioner is consuming too much electricity, you can buy the one that comes with an efficient energy certificate. If you want to save fuel and petroleum resources, you can buy a battery powered car and car pool. But what happens when you are stuck in a hostel or just a college student who hasn’t started earning yet? It is widely accepted that most of the viable green alternatives are more expensive than the normal ones. But should this stop us from going green? This article is about the phrase in a person’s life where they think of adulthood, without the financial freedom that comes with it. This article is also for people who think going green is costly. It is not expensive. It depends on how far you are willing to go to make those small changes in your life that can ultimately help the environment.
- Opt for electrical appliances with minimum voltage
When summer strikes, a cooler or air conditioner would be something we need. Purchase one which consumes limited electricity. Looking at the amount of watts consumed is something ignored while buying electrical appliances, as only the cost if often considered. This would mean lesser electricity is consumed, which will go easy on your electricity bill and bring down overall electricity consumption at the same time.
- Get a cycle
Commuting is sometimes a problem. There are many places to be in, and spending on an auto or fuel for the car or bike can be cumbersome. A cycle is a great way to move around, without contributing to smoke or emissions. You can use it to drive within and on your college campus and cycling with friends is a lot of fun. As an added bonus, it also gets you fit.
- Recycle old books
Notes and books pile up at the end of every academic year. Notebooks are thrown away without realizing there is paper left over. It may seem like a small deal, but just remember that for every few pages you save, a tree doesn’t get cut down. Shift to recycled paper notebooks that are chlorine free if you want to make a bigger difference.
- Go paper-free
Since most students have access to either laptops or computers, there are incredible apps online that reduces paper use. Some apps like Evernote, Catchnotes that are available online will help you convert all your writing to typing and storing your data in digital form, enabling you to go paper free. Also send a mail to the college administration if they are consuming a lot of paper to print circulars or leaflets. It will probably not be considered or even dismissed, but it matters because you have done your bit in making your college a greener place.
- Carry a bag with you when you go shopping
This normal and cliched suggestion finds a place here as well. This is especially apt because we end up buying a lot of small things when we are living in a hostel, and when those items are given to you in a plastic bag (which you will inevitably throw away), there is a lot of waste happening. Carry a small cover in your college bag, and it may come in handy when you want to buy cup noodles or a bar of soap.
- Join the college Environment Club
All colleges generally have activities associated with making the campus a greener place. Join such a committee because working with like minded people increases your potential to make eco friendly choices. If such a club does not exist, you can either ask the administration to create a student body or start your own informal group with other interested student. Even a small group or people who recycle or manage waste by segregating it can leave an impact on the other students.
- Take the eco-friendly route in fashion choices
Leather jackets and accessories are worn by people to make a statement. There is more to fashion than that. Instead of leather, opt for rexine, faux leather or jute.
- Spread the awareness on Environment oriented events
Did you know that Earth Day, World Environment Day, World Water Day, International Day for Biological Diversity, World Oceans Day and International Mountain Day are designated for creating awareness on environmental issues? Sadly, these dates or events like when the people of different countries switch off every light at one particular time are celebrations that go unnoticed. But these events generate the awareness of going green in people who have no idea of current environmental problems like global warming or pollution. Spread the news on social media, college notice boards or committee meetings. Things done by individuals in a group have a more positive outcome than one person doing it alone. The reason for this is that you know there are others who have the same goals, hopes and aspirations as you. One person’s aim is now reflected by the community. The people who did not want to follow it or were not aware of it realize that a lot more people are coming together for the same purpose and they join the campaign as well.
The most important thing to remember when you are trying to make a difference is that there will be people trying to bring you down. You may be faced with people mocking you for the choices you make. But remember, that is largely based on ignorance. A world where even educated people try to deny global warming is a symbol of how human society refuses to accept danger despite it being immediate and imminent. Expecting other teenage students to accept these views is also quite improbable. But remember that there is a choice you have to make. You can either be like the others who will regret the polluting footprint they leave behind or make an active effort to use the eco-friendly alternative. It is time to go green on a shoestring budget. ‘