With graduation just completed, seniors are soon to join other adults outside of the college bubble. While at the University of Rochester, Facilities and Services Team Green and other green groups work hard to provide access to sustainable alternatives, these efforts are not found everywhere. Through events that promote the environment, pervasion of recycling bins in classrooms and libraries, and sustainable programs enacted at the University, the campus atmosphere incorporates many green options into its culture. In the outside world, however, this access can be limited. Some graduates may even be shocked when they discover that green options previously thought of as standard don’t exist in certain areas. Though this may make being sustainable more difficult, it does not inhibit environmentally friendly choices completely. To find out more about the realities, tips, and tricks about living sustainably off campus, we obtained feedback from a University alumnus, who offered up some helpful insights.
Q: Do your apartment and job offer recycling options? And if not, how do you still make sustainable choices?
A: My apartment building doesn’t recycle, and it’s the worst. I wish I had asked the landlord about this feature prior to moving in. Though one unanticipated consequence of this is that by knowing I can’t recycle my waste, I try to generate less of it. My workplace is in the process of establishing a recycling program.
Q: How can people stay green in apartments off campus?
A: Live on top floor, as heat rises. It is more efficient- you will pay less for heat and save energy. Also, check the insulation on your windows – they make a huge difference in containing heat. Check for dripping faucets to conserve water as well, and use self-discipline when taking showers. Also, try to unplug as often as possible, as vampire voltage adds up.
Q: How do you get around sustainably?
A: I don’t have a car, so I use the bus and carpool with friends to work and social outings. It’s nice and pretty convenient. I recommend that graduating seniors who are passionate about sustainability do some research about biking and transportation in cities before moving there.
Q: How do you pay your bills sustainably if your apartment doesn’t recycle?
A: I’m signed up for electronic billing for my rent, phone bill, an electric, as to avoid paper use.
Q: How do you sustainably consume food off campus?
A: I shop for groceries at Trader Joes and Whole Foods. I also chose to eat out at sustainable restaurants, support local businesses, get CSA delivered. Also, split meals with friends. Its good for the environment as it limits food waste, and good for your wallet, as it saves money. Also, composting is a good way to recycle food scraps and is easier to do off campus than in a dorm, as often you have a small yard.
Article by: Julie Elliot, class of 2015