Being Green at school is more than just a fashion statement — it’s a way of (university) life
Catching the green thumb in college and university is becoming a growing part of the post-secondary experience.
“It is not only important to reduce your personal carbon footprint, but to get involved in the on and off-campus community to make a difference bigger than your individual acts,” says Miranda Maslany, a UVic sustainability intern.
Kelsey Mech, a leader of UVic’s environmental club Common Energy, agrees. “When you’re in an environment like a university, you have the ability to have an impact on how a larger institution works.”
If you are just starting out and want to reduce your carbon footprint (the amount of carbon emissions you contribute to the atmosphere) there are many ways to get involved.
Rita Fromholt, UVic’s sustainability coordinator, says students should, “think of sustainability as three broad areas: transportation, waste and energy.”
“The main thing for students that don’t live on campus is to turn off the lights when you leave the classroom or study space,” says Fromholt.
Living on campus presents students with other ways to conserve energy. “In residence there is usually a sustainability themed building,” says Maslany. “You don’t have to be in that building to be sustainable, there is just a stronger culture within that building.”
Choosing alternative forms of transportation is both an encouraged and effective way to make an impact on the environment.
“Use the UPASS, take the bus around,” says Fromholt. Nannette Plant, Camosun’s executive assistant at the Strategic Development Division, adds that more students are definitely choosing alternative transport from biking to walking depending on their campus.
Both Camosun and Uvic have facilities for students who want to bike. UVic has showers for bikers and special lockers, while Camosun has bike fix -it stations and secure bike parking. UVic also provides students with a borrow-a-bike program called SPOKES and has a Bike Kitchen, where students can maintain bikes.
Get politically active, join a club, get engaged, says Fromholt.
One of the best ways to make a positive change within the community and the country is to advocate for better environmental polices and initiatives. Whether it is joining a club on campus that advocates for environmental issues or writing a letter to your local member of parliament, anything helps.
Reduce your waste creation by taking advantage of your campus’ waste reduction plan. Whether your school has implemented a three-bin system (compost, garbage and recycle bins) or has put in a plastic bottle ban, you can do your part.
Be a Tourist
Take an environmental tour of your new campus to get acquainted with what green tools and resources the campus offers you. “Take a green tour of your campus,” says Plant. “If you’re really interested in knowing what green things are being done on campus, ask, don’t hesitate.” M