The Oberlin College Shower Drill
While previous generations may have focused on recycling and environmental cleanup, students at Oberlin College want to combat global warming by figuring out ways to reduce carbon emissions in their own lives, starting with their own colleges.
Oberlin’s new sustainability house – SEED, for Student Experiment in Ecological Design – is just one example of movements like this across campuses nationwide.
Students at Oberlin are doing everything from simple adjustments like studying in one room to save electricity to lowering the thermostat to not plugging in appliances when not in use (including the refrigerator).
And yes, it’s a relatively small thing like taking a shorter shower, so there is an hourglass timer for keeping track of your shower time and water usage. Got your timer ready? How about 3 minutes?
Sustainability at the RIT Campus
Consider a huge project like LEED. Rochester Institute of Technology made sustainable choices for new buildings by improving the energy efficiency of new and renovated buildings. This school is also big into recycling.
RIT currently recycles around 2,000 tons of waste. The school participates in Recyclemania, a nationwide competition between over 400 universities to see which schools can reuse and recycle the most waste.
“Go Green” for Harvard University
Even one-time initiatives help. Athletes from Harvard University helped with recycling by heading over to Fenway Park this past May to pick up plastic bottles and cups that were left around the park. Plus they educated some of the baseball fans about how to live a “greener” life.
Is it Really That Hard to Walk Up the Hill?
Colgate College assesses everything from construction practices to power usage. Administrators, faculty, staff and students meet to figure out ways that the school can reduce its impact on the environment.
Even something as simple as walking makes an impact. “Walk up the Hill Day” is an annual event at Colgate that encourages students and staff to walk instead of driving up the hill.
Some other specific policies and initiatives include:
• Colgate will reduce its energy demand by an estimated 9,320 kilowatt per hour to 17,400 kilowatt per hour per year due to participation in an energy curtailment program called Operation Save New York.
• The university has moved to biodegradable, non-toxic cleaning products for all areas of campus.
• The campus Green Bikes program rents bikes to students to use instead of driving to or around campus.
Southwestern is Changing the Way Students Think about Transportation
A bike collective was started at Southwestern in Georgetown, Texas, which gives refurnished bikes to people who need one with the goal of encouraging people to rethink transportation and conservation. They also teach bike repair and accept donated bicycles in any condition.
What started out as a class project has evolved into an entire initiative.“Perhaps they will consider bikes more when thinking about how to get from one place to another,” said Ansa Copeland, a civic engagement specialist who has been serving as faculty advisor
Taking Care of Our Environment is Everyone’s Job
Maybe you, or your school, are doing some worthwhile things too. This is just a sampling of some of the innovative programs and efforts being undertaken at college campuses across the US. We’d love to hear of other initiatives and programs being put in place at your college or university as well!