Getting environmentally friendly

A large recycling center can be found in the University Center Green Room. (credit: Tommy Hofman | Assitant Photo Editor) A large recycling center can be found in the University Center Green Room. (credit: Tommy Hofman | Assitant Photo Editor)

For the past couple of decades, there has been a lot of talk about change — many people have proposed adapting our habits as human beings and inhabitants of Earth to decrease the ecological taxation on our planet, thus extending the planet’s seemingly diminishing life span. While talking, planning, and proposing are necessary beginning steps when approaching a subject as openly disputed as ecological restructuring and consciousness, the amount of definite action remains limited.

These days, being “eco-friendly” has become sort of a social norm — much like being politically correct or dressed in public. It has become the sort of characteristic that we expect from one another, and we are shocked when someone chooses to openly disregard it. While it is true that many organizations and specific individuals have made tremendous strides in green practices and technology, for the majority of people being green remains a back-burner idea — only acknowledged and practiced when it is convenient for the individual.

The question remains: What kind of life-altering, tragic event will have to occur to convince people that adapting our lives to save our environment should be at the forefront of our minds? Instead of imagining the end of our world as we know it and the chaos that will ensue, we can attempt to increase awareness of ecological issues in our own society. The chances are that wherever you are, your community offers a plethora of eco-friendly green alternatives in consumerism, transportation, and more. Here at Carnegie Mellon, some student organizations have brought more environmentally friendly options to campus, even if you haven’t been looking for them.

**Shopping **

Within the first couple of weeks, when preparing for the school year, there are plenty of environmentally friendly options to choose from when stocking your apartment fridge or hitting up the bookstore for school supplies. Entropy+, for example, sells several products that stress sustainability. From delicious soy ice cream to recycled-packaging snack foods to free-range meats, if you know what to look for you can find it at Entropy+.

Carnegie Mellon has also introduced several eco-friendly options within the campus bookstore. Recycled three-ring binders, notebooks, and paper products, and even pens made from recycled water bottles, can all be found among the bookstore shelves. With no noticeable difference between non-recycled and recycled products, why wouldn’t you buy green?

** Transportation **

Sure, when you first heard about the Carnegie Mellon campus shuttle service during Orientation, you thought, “Gee, that’s convenient,” but this service offers more than just door-to-door transportation. Many students who choose to live off-campus bring cars and use them on a daily basis to commute to school. If you know someone like this, try suggesting that he or she take advantage of the shuttle service or the Port Authority buses to save money on gas while simultaneously saving the environment.

It is also extremely hard to find a location on campus where there aren’t bike racks. If you’re worried about being late for class, or are just too tired to walk, invest in a bike and helmet to ease your commute. Many upperclassmen who live out of state choose to sell their bikes at the end of the school year, so if you’re looking for a cheap and sustainable way to get your hands on a bike, be sure to ask around.

** Disposal **

Believe it or not, almost every residence hall on the Carnegie Mellon campus offers students an array of recycling and disposal options. Do you have a stack of cardboard boxes in your dorm from when you moved in? Break down your boxes and find the nearest recycling center.

The best way to increase sustainability efforts is to discuss their importance with others and advertise opportunities for change. There is no better time than now to go green.