Going Green: the Revolution

Kathleen McFadden

Green was once just a color. Today, it is a movement, a revolution, a term coined to an eco-friendly lifestyle. People are “going green” across the globe, and no, this does not mean they’ve caught some sort of strange illness. “Going green” is the term used to signify a change in lifestyle. This change involves shifting daily activities and habits into environmentally friendly ones.

There are many ways to limit personal impacts on the environment, but many students do not know about the simple changes in their daily routines that help reach a “greener” lifestyle.

The key is to start out small, kind of dip your toes into being green and then gradually increase your environmentally friendly activities. After a while, it will come naturally.

A problem with switching to greener habits is that many involve changes to one’s household. This excludes a large portion of the population: college students living in dormitories.

Although not able to slap some solar panels onto your residence hall roof or install low-flush toilets into the bathrooms, you can make individual changes to reach a personal greener lifestyle. Every student can make a difference. With the Villanova undergraduate student body reaching 6,425 as of fall 2008, individual changes add up.

Some things to do while in your baby steps to becoming green are changing the products you use inside your dorm room, such as cleaning and energy products. Change cleaning products to environmentally friendly ones, such as Clorox’s “Green Works” line. Change regular light bulbs to energy efficient bulbs.

Energy-saver bulbs are eco-friendly, but an additional step to take toward energy conservation is unplugging all electrical appliances when not in use. Even if not turned on, these appliances suck energy out of the wall sockets.

“The easiest thing students can do is turn off the lights when they leave a room,” says Caitlin Green, a sophomore co-president of VEG, the Villanova Environmental Group. Green says that simple things to unplug when not in use are laptops, phone chargers and hair dryers.

Another effortless lifestyle change deals with laundry. To save energy, wash and dry clothes on cooler settings. This reduces the amount of energy needed to heat up the water. An even greener step is to air-dry clothes.

Speaking of water, take shorter showers. The showers in dormitories are not always the most appealing, so get out of there as quick as possible for yourself and the environment.

These energy-saving actions can really make a difference, and they are simple enough that you don’t even notice a change.

In addition to energy conservation, reducing personal waste is a major factor in becoming green. Instead of using plastic bags at the grocery store or school shop, use cloth reusable bags. They hold more items and can be reused. Plus, the handles don’t rip under pressure like the bags from Kennedy Hall, something with which many students are all too familiar.

Another reusable product is a mug for coffee or hot beverages. Many students rely on coffee to prevent them from falling asleep in class and doing “the head-bob.” Instead of buying coffee in a disposable paper cup, get a thermos or mug for coffee. It’ll keep your drink warmer, is easily washable and won’t end up in a landfill after one use.

While switching to a reusable mug for hot beverages, get one for cold drinks as well. Nalgene refillable water bottles are sold in the Kennedy Hall. They hold more water, are easily transported, and combat our country’s huge problem of non-biodegradable water bottle waste in landfills. As Villanova’s signature Nalgene water bottle says, “Refill, not landfill.” After all, why buy cases of water bottles when you can refill your own for free?

Another stop to reducing waste is to limit your car use. Students living off-campus or on West Campus: do not drive to class! Why drive from West to Bartley when it takes the same amount of time? Every time you drive, carbon dioxide is emitted into the air and contributes to global warming. Get a nice walk to class and enjoy our campus. Driving to class is completely pointless and wasteful.

With all of these changes, anyone could go green. Probably the most important step is to recycle waste. People have gotten in the habit of throwing everything in the trash, but many trashed items belong in recycle bins.

For example, most paper products are thrown into the trash and end up in landfills, even though all paper products are recyclable.

Villanova has recycle stations in all buildings including dormitories. Paper, plastics and glass & cans all can be recycled separately.

Any paper product can be recycled, and once you realize this, it becomes more obvious just how many paper products are recyclable. This includes pizza boxes, cigarette packs, packs of chewing gum, paper cups, paper towel and toilet paper rolls, old newspapers, frozen food boxes, cases of beer, paper bags, non-glossy receipts and old class papers. Rather than throw out the hundreds of sheets of paper from your classes once finals conclude, recycle them for reuse.

Plastic water bottles are by far not the only recyclable plastic. Villanova Recycling Services recycles one and two plastics, so anything labeled with those numbers is recyclable on campus. This label can be found on the bottom of any container. Surprising recyclable plastics include shampoo and conditioner bottles, body wash bottles, any half-gallon or gallon drink bottles, soap containers, soda bottles and some yogurt containers.

Glass and cans are recycled together at Villanova. This includes soup cans, salsa jars, beer and soda cans or bottles and jelly or jam jars. If it’s made of glass or aluminum, it’s recyclable.

“Some of the most basic ways to practice green living is to use the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle, (refuse)’ mantra,” says Sam Silverman, a senior co-president of VEG, the Villanova Environmental Group. “Reduce- Ask yourself how much you need. Reuse- Get the most of our items with several runs. Recycle- Reuse through a different purpose. Refuse- To take wasteful items.”

This mantra is the key to living a greener lifestyle, a lifestyle that realizes that saving and conserving are possible and necessary.

“To move toward a ‘greener’ lifestyle is to understand how you’re interconnected to the world, understand yourself as a part of the community, and act accordingly,” says Silverman.

Switching daily activities to be greener is not only easy, it is important to the rest of the world.

“If we take care of our environment and natural resources, we can ensure a more healthy future,” Green says. “We should respect the environment, not take advantage of it.”

So on campus, conserve your water and energy intakes, recycle your beer cans and old papers, and don’t you dare put that water bottle in the trash.