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Retaining Sustainable Habits While Transitioning Back to Campus

As many of us learned, studied, and worked from home last year, we often intentionally or unintentionally found ourselves living more sustainably. These earth-friendly habits can carry over to our on-campus lives as well! Check out our tips for maintaining sustainable habits as we return to in-person activities.

Getting Around: Take public transit or bike to your day’s activities.  

In the U.S., energy emissions from transportation decreased by 15% during 2020, thanks in large part to people cutting out their daily car commutes. Our campuses are walk and bicycle-friendly, and the free campus shuttle and public transit make it easy to get around without a car.

Eating: Avoid individually wrapped food items, reduce waste, and eat more plant-based meals.  

Many people found joy in cooking when social distancing at home. Cooking with whole ingredients instead of purchasing individually wrapped food products cuts down significantly on waste. If you are eating in the dining halls, you can reduce waste by selecting more plant-based foods, only taking the amount of food you plan to eat, and using the reusable OZZI container when taking food to go.

Printing: Do not print unnecessarily. 

Were you able to still be productive without a printer at home? Perhaps printing isn't always necessary! If you do need to print, print black and white, double-sided, or consider electronic/digital formats for reading and saving documents.

Shopping: Shop at local thrift stores and donate items. 

Dreading leaving your pajamas and sweatpants behind but need to update your wardrobe? Rather than buying new items, shop at your local thrift store. Nearly 10% of global carbon emissions are released by the fashion industry. You can contribute to a positive change by reusing gently used items and donating your old clothes and other possessions. 

Temperature Control: Turn it down when you’re not around

As we spend more time away from home, consider a programable thermostat that allows you to raise and lower temperatures based on when you will be home. During the fall and winter, lowering the temperature of your space by just a few degrees can have a significant impact on the carbon footprint of a building.

Health: Get outdoors!  

Step outside for some mindful activities, whether you take a walk along the lake or read in the Evanston Campus Shakespeare Garden. Getting outdoors together is something we can benefit from, beyond our quarantine days.  

Get Involved: Stay involved in campaigns advocating for environmental and social change.

This was a year of political and social upheaval, and it is important to stay engaged. Many of us found the time and desire to become more socially aware and active. Carve out time in your week to learn about local social and environmental justice issues and how you can get involved.