“It’s not easy being green.” – Kermit the Frog.
Kermit summarized my personal attempts at living a more sustainable lifestyle. It’s not easy, especially on a student’s budget. In fact at times, it seemed downright impossible. However, somehow our froggy friend managed to keep going green, and that’s what I’m going to share with you – a simple secret on how to go green without losing the green from your pocket!
So before revealing my tips, let’s start with a little background on the Green Movement. The current Green Movement is based in the idea of sustainability. What is sustainability? Personally, my favorite definition is from Robert Gilman, Director of the Context Institute, “You might think of it as extending the Golden Rule through time, so that you do onto future generations (as well as your present fellow beings) as you would have them do onto you.“ Pretty cool, huh? Being sustainable means taking care of the environment around you -on any level, be it your room, apartment building, town, state, country, world.
While this seems simple, at times it can seem challenging, especially when you’re on a limited budget already. However, don’t let this deter you from making green changes in your life (your environment will be nicer for you and those around you!). It’s the little things that add up! It’s kind of like the idea that 100 pennies make a dollar. If you keep saving them up, eventually you’ll have 1 dollar, then another, and so it keeps going. Well, going green can be the same way. You don’t need to put a solar roof on your house or buy a Prius to do your part and make a real difference.
Here are a few ideas adapted from TreeHugger.com on how you can make small changes to go green in your day to day life. Check out their website for more tips on going green, check out their green buying guide and get more informed about the green movement.
- Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Remember this from back in elementary school? Well it still holds true. Thinking about what you’re throwing in the trash on a day to day basis is still one of the best ways to be more sustainably minded and go green. Some easy ways to put this into action. Reduce. For example, instead of doing massive grocery shopping trips and then throwing some out, shop conservatively and use what you buy. Reduce how much electricity you’re using by making a point to turn off the lights when you leave the room or turn down your thermostat when you’re not home. Reuse. Anything from food to old clothes can be reused. To get started check out “The Two Day Fiesta” for some inspiration on reusing your leftovers. Look into donating old clothes, furniture etc.( a quick google search for donations in your area will reveal tons of thrift shops that will be more than happy to take your leftovers). Recycle. Can’t reuse it? If it’s recyclable, throw it in the bin! Living on campus? There are bins all over campus, so find the one nearest you. You can also learn more about on-campus recycling, via the UNCs Recycling Program. Living off campus? The A-Z Recyclery has all the information you need to start recycling in your apartment.
- Ditch Your Car. Chapel Hill has a plethora of alternatives to driving including walking, pedaling, or riding instead. Chapel Hill is a pretty compact town (and scenic to boot). On a nice day, try walking if your destination is close enough. Not only will that be one less car on the road, but you’ll get to enjoy a nice, refreshing walk outside! Chapel Hill is also a bike friendly city, and getting friendlier every day. For more info on biking safely in Chapel Hill, check out the Cyclicious Movement, a local movement promoting and celebrating bicycle transportation. Their website has tons of great information, including “How to Bike UNC” and “Biking Street Smarts.” Too far to walk or ride? Try taking the bus! Public transit cuts down on greenhouse gasses (emitted in car exhaust) and congestion in the streets (bonus: it’s free within the town of Chapel Hill!). If you’re not sure you can part with your car just yet, start small, try walking, pedaling or riding instead of driving at least one day a week and increase as you feel more comfortable. (Super bonus, you’ll spend less on gas!!)
- Eat Local. Why eat local? Well, just like cutting down on your travel time, cutting down on your food’s travel time is good for the earth (it also supports local farmers!). This particular tip runs the risk of getting expensive, but lucky for us, here in Chapel Hill there are plenty of thrifty options for eating local. The website Local Harvest provides information on organic farms and CSAs locally and across the country (learn more about CSAs in Straight from the Farm). You can visit any number of local farmers markets in Chapel Hill and Carrboro for local and affordable fare. There are also a number of restaurants which buy and use local produce, and you can learn more about them in Eating Local.
Want to know more about what’s going on to go green on campus? Check out Carolina’s Go Green Initiative, which has information on Green Campus, Green Studies and Green Living. You can also check out our recent blog on campus sustainability programs!
With all this green Kermit would be thrilled!