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College students can avoid waste too

Our culture is such that most products are pre-wrapped for you, consumer X, because you’re special, and this was mass-produced just for you.

Don’t you feel warm and fuzzy? We live in a disposable society.

The average American generates a little more than four pounds of waste a day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

But what about the average college student? Does your carbon footprint grow or shrink if you live on campus? And what about commuters?

The good news is, there are a lot of ways to become more environmentally conscious on campus. Students for a Sustainable Campus President Chris Skovron says there is one important thing students can do to “go green” ­­­— adopt a mindset to lessen their impact on the planet.

At Ohio State, students can bring their own bags and mugs to the dining halls instead of using plastic or paper products. However, Dining Services continues to use plastic cutlery and containers because of their low costs.

“As far as the cutlery choices, we are hoping to find a cost-effective option that also meets single-dispense criteria,” said Karri Benishek, marketing director of Campus Dining Services. “Currently, at 32 cents a piece, it just is not a feasible choice for our student population.”

One bright thought to consider next time you eat on campus is this: 30 percent of Dining Services’ purchases come from Ohio farms, helping not only Ohio’s economy, but also the environment, as the distance from the farm to the table (or the reusable tray) is significantly smaller, Benishek said.

Oh the joys of transportation. The average American will spend 36 hours behind the wheel by the end of 2010. That’s more than a day of doing nothing but accelerate, brake, inch forward and brake again.

Anyone living off-campus knows how much time and energy is wasted just trying to drive to and from class, work and most places in between. It can be overwhelming.

So what’s to be done, turn State Route 315 into a pedestrian highway? The EPA suggests carpooling, biking or walking when possible and cutting down on travel in general. So become friends with that guy in economics class who lives in your apartment complex (unless he’s totally creepy), and don’t stress about finding somewhere to park.

If one thing’s been pounded into our heads throughout the years from teachers, parents and most Disney movies, it’s that one person can make a difference. Next time you go on a coffee run, grab a mug before you leave and skip the paper. Or instead of taking four cars to go out, split the gas money and take one. As we become more conscious of our actions and their impact, we will make more responsible decisions. Maybe we can’t turn into Captain Planet overnight, but a few simple changes can amount to something substantial.

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