Student’s Corner

I took the Go Green Pledge my freshman year in college. I’ve just begun my junior year and I thought this would be a good time to look back and reflect on how I’ve done since making the pledge.

The pledge is composed of 20 options, with a 21st option to make your own unique pledge. My freshman year I pledged to fulfill all 20 sections.

  1. I pledge to use reusable containers for food instead of disposable items.

I always use reusable containers when packing my lunch. Since my zero waste challenge I also carry around reusable utensils and straws with me. Check! Bonus: if you eat on campus often, check out University Dining Services Eco Clamshell program.

  1. I pledge to right-size my meal to avoid food waste

Ok I am definitely guilty of thinking I can eat way more than I actually can but I always save my leftovers to eliminate as much food waste a possible. Check!

  1. I pledge to go “meatless” once per week or more.

Coming into college I was already a vegetarian for around 5 years but I still checked this option because I wanted to push myself further. I became vegan this past January so I am going to also give this one a check!

  1. I pledge to use energy savings on my computer

I use my laptop a lot so I don’t really ever turn it off unless it dies. I do however have energy saving settings on my laptop, my display is always down, and my laptop automatically enters sleep mode when I close it or don’t use it for more than 30 minutes. I could definitely still use some work on this one but I’ve also made a lot of progress since my freshman year. Tentative check!

  1. I pledge to volunteer or otherwise give back in my local community.

I’m really active on campus but I could really try harder to reach out to the greater Rochester community. Although I do regularly donate items, I’m not going to put a check on this yet because I want to push myself to get more involved with our local community. I hope to not only donate my items but also donate my time to helping the community.

  1. I pledge to turn off the lights while leaving the room for more than 15 minutes.

I definitely do this! I am the queen of making sure lights are off when no one is in the room. Check!

  1. I pledge to reduce paper consumption by utilizing web technology.

My email and google drive have everything in them. Essays, e-books, my calendar, and so much more are all online. Technology is an amazing thing. I do, however, handwrite my notes for classes as there are studies showing that this helps absorb and process information more effectively.  Check!

  1. I pledge to attend and promote educational sessions about sustainability.

I do this! And you should too! Follow UR Sustainable on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to keep up on events regarding sustainability on campus. Check!

  1. I pledge to buy used rather than buying brand new items and attempt to repurpose old items rather than throwing them out.

I thrift like no other. Being a college student this is also economically beneficial. Check! Also check out Move-out Cleanout and Dump & Run at the end of every year.

  1. I pledge to use shared refrigerators, microwaves and coffee makers instead of personal appliances in my office or residence hall.

Ok so I didn’t do this my freshman or sophomore year. However, I recently moved into my first apartment where I have 3 roommates. We all share the appliances there so…. Delayed check!

  1. I pledge to reduce my water consumption in the kitchen and bathroom

I take really short showers and turn the water off when brushing my teeth or washing dishes. Check!

  1. I pledge to use a reusable coffee mug and buy Fair Trade Coffee when available.

I don’t actually drink coffee. I know, what college student doesn’t drink coffee? I do, however, drink tea and whenever I do I’m always sure to bring a reusable mug. The only thing I have to work on is using a reusable cup for Starbucks Frappuccino’s and iced drinks. It feels wrong to me putting a cold drink in a mug meant for hot drinks. Does anyone else feel like this? Let me know I’m not alone. Anyway, I now have mason jars I plan to use for this. Half check?

  1. I pledge to use a reusable water bottle and not buy bottled water.

Check! This saves money and it’s super easy with all of the Universities refill stations.

  1. I pledge to move around buildings more efficiently

Revolving doors are fun, taking the stairs is good for heart health, the handicap buttons should only be used when needed, why wouldn’t you do this? Check!

  1. I pledge to use alternative transportation when possible

Ok, so I have a car. I’m not the best at this. I do, however, walk around campus. I only use my car to drive to campus and Wegman’s because it is quite a long walk. I’m going to say check with this because I think I’m doing the best I can given the current situation.

  1. I pledge to use reusable bags and to reuse any plastic shopping bags that I already have.

I was on the Plastic Bag Reduction Committee for EcoReps my freshman year. This is something I’m really passionate about because of that. I always use reusable bags and any plastic bags that do accumulate I reuse in some way. Check! Check out the reusable bag discount and EcoBag reusing program at Hillside as well as the plastic bag recycling stations outside of Hillside, in Hirst Lounge, and in the Gilbert One Lounge.

  1. I pledge to use rechargeable batteries whenever possible.

I don’t think I’ve actually been using rechargeable batteries but to be fair I can’t think of a time in the past 2 years that I’ve bought or used regular batteries either. Check!?

  1. I pledge to recycle and put waste in the proper places.

This is super easy to do and the University makes it really self-explanatory with our easy to use signage. Check! To see all of our recycling programs go here.

  1. I pledge to choose double-sided printing whenever possible.

Double-sided printing is super easy and it’s cheaper! Check!

  1. I pledge to share the experiences I’ve had with this pledge to educate my friends about sustainable behaviors.

I’m doing that right now! Check!


Take the pledge and let me know how it goes for you!


Written by Patricia Van Valkenburgh, Class of 2019.

Photo provided by the University of Rochester, J. Adam Fenster.