August 26, 2009

101 Ways to Go Green in (Dartmouth) College

Over the last decade, Dartmouth has made pioneering advances in environmental sustainability (apparently they are even making an academic major out of it). But for you serious environmentalists coming to campus, you might want to go one step above. Take a look at the 101 Ways to Go Green in College (tip to Amber Johnson) for a collection of interesting ways to reduce your environmental impact while in Hanover. Now I'm no environmental radical myself, and a few of the suggestions struck me as a bit much, but I think there are a lot of great ideas to consider. My favorites:
  • Recycle paper (and used recycled paper: Dartmouth loves to use printouts and at the end of each term, I always have an impressive stack.)
  • Repurpose items: Use empty cans for pencil holders, turn old shoe boxes into storage, and more.
  • Carry a refillable water bottle (e.g. your nalgene from freshman trips)
  • Use cold water: Cut down on electricity and heat damage to your clothing by using cold water in your washing machine.
  • Use plants instead of air fresheners
  • Get used textbooks
  • Avoid disposable cups and plates (looking at you, frat basements)
The more intense/questionable:
  • Donate supplies to artists: Give paper towel tubes, rubber bands, even oven doors to artists who can use them.
  • Handwash: Conserve electricity and water by hand washing your clothes.
  • Line Drying: Cut down on costs and save energy by drying your clothes on a line. (maybe at home, but this is pretty unrealistic for college. Dartmouth would look like a Hooverville if closelines suddenly sprung up all over the green)
  • Use an e-reader: With an e-reader like Kindle, you can download books instead of buying paper items. (did give them a sponsorship? Paper books are my only reprieve from glowing rectangles)
  • Shop at thrift stores/Go vintage/Swap Clothes/Avoid chasing trends/Shop indie (nice try hippies, you can't trick us into donning your uniforms)
  • Eat Raw: Cut down on the energy of preparing food by eating fresh, raw foods
  • Support local business (This always struck me as being a bit protectionist, though after watching Food Inc. I've started to reconsider the merits of buying organic, which is often only available locally).


  1. If one has the time and the weather, line drying makes sense, but it is a bit much for mere environmental purposes, yes. And an e-reader makes sense but only if you've got the money.

    But there's a lot at thrift stores that isn't hippie, and that's insulting to the people who HAVE to shop there. What really confuses me, though, is why do you find it radical or intense to donate towel tubes instead of tossing them? And as for buying local, it's both good environmentally (less transit), economically (help local businesses without massive profit margins), and in terms of health for the reasons you mention.

  2. Donating paper towel rolls to artists seems a bit '3rd-grade' to me. I'd question how many serious artists would accept your garbage as a sort of condescending donation of inspirational material. For sounding so silly, I doubt artistic paper-towel drives have any measurable impact on sustainability. And for that I included it in the latter section.

    The buy local/organic movement is in diametric opposition to the mass production method of food that keeps prices low enough for the poor to buy. For that reason I think the point warrants some examination. We should recognize that to buy local or organic is a luxury many cannot afford. We shouldn't demonize large farms with tremendous returns to scale or those who use higher-yielding genetically modified crops, because, with almost seven billion people on Earth, we need all the food we can get. Either the price of food goes up and people starve (as they did when the price of corn rose due to the increase in demand from ethanol refineries), or we cut down more forests for farmland. Take your pick.

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