If you haven’t spent much time in the library before, it’s a place you are bound to be well-acquainted with very soon. For many of us, college is the first time we really get to make decisions about our education. What should I study? Which classes should I take and when? While you’re assessing the content of your classes, start to think about the supplies you’ll bring to class with you. While you’ve probably bought your own school supplies before, have you ever looked for sustainable options?
Reduce your paper use.
Many schools and professors make this easy, using online platforms where they assign work, and post class materials. Many textbooks are available for purchase or rent electronically. Even renting a book or buying one used can reduce your waste each semester. These options save paper and money. When I must buy books new, I sell them back to my school’s bookstore which buys them back for some portion of what they’re worth. This option is nice because the books don’t have to be shipped, reducing the fossil fuels consumption of that item.
When studying for exams, make online flashcards on websites like Quizlet, instead of plowing through packages of notecards. If you’re studying with a group you can usually find a whiteboard in the library or an open classroom to study so there’s no need to print anything out! You can also hook your computer up to the projector to review class notes and powerpoints.
Buy post-consumer products.
In addition to your books, you can minimize your paper use by taking notes on your computer. If your professor doesn’t allow computers (yes, this does happen) then look for notebooks that are made from recycled materials or contain post consumer products. This applies to just about any school supplies. The Green Office has sustainable options for almost everything you might need. One way to stay pretty green is just by avoiding anything made of plastic. Look for products made of cardboard, like binders, notebooks, and even pens – the less plastic the better!
In your dorm, make sure to use a powerstrip that reduces energy waste, such as the one made by EcoStrip. You can also unplug electronics like your computer and phone charger when they’re not in use. Anything plugged into an outlet still uses some electricity, even if it’s not plugged into your device.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by schoolwork, especially during your first semester. Stress is a natural response to all the change that college brings but worrying won’t raise your grades! Make sure you leave time for things like yoga, meditation and a good night sleep to help alleviate some of the tension. Find what works for you, whatever that is. Light a candle, put on your favorite artist and just take some deep breaths.