How do UC Berkeley students practice sustainability?

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Before we know it, back-to-school season will be here, thus bringing crowds of college students searching for dorm essentials and trying to figure out which dining hall serves the least-soggy eggs. This time around, take a more sustainable approach to the upcoming school year. The following will serve as the perfect guide to help you be a sustainable student while on a college budget.

“The most important (thing to remember about sustainability) is getting a sense of how to quantify emissions from our daily lives, and how that translates into climate change,” said Ioanna Kavvada, a campus PhD in civil and environmental engineering.

Kavvada explained that sustainability classes helped her change her lifestyle to become more eco-friendly. 

She minimizes her usage of heating and cooling systems in her home, explaining that changes such as these are not only helping the planet, but are cost-effective.

“In my daily life, I try to be as sustainable as possible. For example, I recycle, and before, I didn’t used to, as well as composting,” Kavvada said. “I don’t have a car. I bike, and that’s not only for sustainability.” 

Camille Roberts, a campus junior who is also in the civil and environmental engineering department, encouraged students to use public transportation in the Bay Area. 

“We’re given free Clipper cards, so we have free access to all the buses,” Roberts said. “That’s something that a lot of students don’t take advantage of.”

Making changes in the products you use is also a great start. A small shampoo bar can make a big difference. Kavvada switched to using only soap bars after she learned about the high rates of water waste in the liquid soap industry. Isabella Peters, a campus senior also in the civil and environmental engineering department, pointed out that materials you think are unusable may not be. She shared that her family grows a large garden in their backyard and that she reuses coffee grounds and banana peels as fertilizer.

“Usually about one-third of your fridge goes in the trash, so buy less,” Peters said. “Only buy what you need.” 

Sustainability is definitely college-student friendly. You can find ways to be sustainable that don’t break the bank. 

The same goes for dining halls. We know it’s hard to control yourself when there’s all that food for a fixed price, but these situations can create a lot of food waste. 

“I think that practicing sustainability is not that hard, it just takes getting used to,” Kavvada said. 

To remember little changes you can make to stay sustainable, Roberts suggested thinking about your habits. Maybe even make a list, or, if you’re forgetful, set a couple of reminders for yourself. Pretty soon, those conscious efforts will make a regular habit. 

Spread the word — don’t be shy to tell your family and friends what you learned, or use social media to talk about it. The more sustainability, the merrier!

Contact Sophie Horvath at [email protected].