The amount of waste that we produce each day is directly proportional to global climate change and the health of both ourselves and the planet. Each day, students constantly use single-use plastic cups, plastic bags, throw away large amounts of food, run water and waste copious amounts of paper. The immediate effect is of these actions is hidden in our day-to-day society. However, it can leave a large effect in the long term. I urge you to focus on reducing your waste around campus—starting small, because as cliche as it sounds, everything makes a difference.
A common ground for most Keene State College students is the Dining Commons; where students eat anywhere from 3 meals a day to a few meals a week. At first, the waste from this might seem minimal because they use glass dishes and reusable cups. However, there is a significant amount of resources going literally down the drain. To start off, I urge you to look at what you are drinking for your own health and for the planet. Instead of choosing the sugary sodas and beverages I suggest water, as it is better for you and leaves a much smaller carbon footprint on the planet than alternative beverages. Secondly, I urge you to only take what you will eat, because you can always go back for seconds, whereas you cannot put food back. This will lessen the amount of food that goes to waste when you simply throw away what you didn’t eat and the amount of dishes that you use.
Another common area of waste is Lloyd’s and the coffee shop on campus. Here you constantly see many single-use plastic containers for food, coffee and thousands of plastic bags used every day. As for coffee, bring a reusable mug or travel container for your beverage and simply wash it out when you are done. This will not only save plastic, but will also save you money whereas it is $1.50 for any sized regular coffee compared to $2.25 just for a medium! The same goes for reusable water bottles; they are everywhere and very inexpensive, so next time you are out, try to pick up one up. As for the food in Lloyd’s, it will be difficult to avoid the plastic containers the food comes, in so try to balance that out by not taking a plastic bag when you check out. Is it really that hard to carry a box back to your dorm? You can even put your snacks in your backpack, as most students carry those around every day. Ultimately, try to balance out your waste wherever possible, if you truly do need to purchase single-use plastic. If you really do need to get a plastic bag, reuse it in your dorm or in your house as a trash bag, or even bring it back to Lloyd’s the next time you go, because those things will last forever!
Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about Hoot ‘n’ Scoot! The last food option on campus is another plastic hub where it is easy to minimize your footprint. If you’re making a salad or getting the pasta from H’n’S, bring a reusable container or tupperwhere to carry your food. Get an apple or orange instead of a fruit cup, because those come with their own protective covering! Bring a water bottle and fill it up at the drink station instead of taking one of the plastic water bottles. (If you want to learn about how bad water in plastic bottles are for you I urge you to watch the documentary “Tapped” to learn about the plastic leaching into the bottles, yikes.) Lastly, once again, do you really need that plastic bag to carry your things, or can you just carry it back to your dorm or house and put the rest in your backpack?
The last place to be sustainable is in the dorms. I keep some glass dishes in my room in case I decide to make oatmeal, or anything that I can wash and reuse so I am not using plastic or paper products. The same goes for utensils; don’t take the plastic straws, forks, spoons and knives from Hoot ‘n’ Scoot and Lloyd’s when you can just keep some in your dorm that you can use again. I know it seems slightly inconvenient to have dishes to wash, but it is practice for the real world. Use dish towels when possible instead of paper towels and even keep a recycling bin in your dorm room next to your trash can. A few of these simple changes will contribute to reducing climate change, help save wildlife, slow down pollution and the overfilling of our landfills.
Isabella Pratt can be contacted