This article was originally published in 2012 by The Office of Sustainability, and has been re-published in 2019 with updates from the Sustainability Council for accuracy.
With September right around the corner, UAlberta students are heading back to campus, filling residence buildings, and moving into new apartments. During this exciting and hectic time, sustainable choices can easily be made — chances are you are making many of them already without knowing it!
When outfitting your new space, or updating your current place, keep these ideas in mind:
1 . Used text books
Purchase used text books. It reduces the demand for new ones, creates a market for reused products, and helps to divert waste from landfills.
2. Purchase second-hand and vintage items
Shop second-hand and reuse materials to divert waste from landfills. This also reduces the demand for new products.
3. Clothes drying rack
To save energy, and money, air dry laundry using a foldable clothes drying rack instead of using gas or electric dryers.
4. Hit the switch
Put reminders by light switches to remind yourself to turn off the lights every time you leave the room.
5. Reusable containers
Stock up on reusable dishes. Using reusable dishes and containers reduces waste associated with food and beverage packaging. Plus, many food providers on campus offer eco-discounts when you bring a reusable container!
Food providers offering discounts:
In SUB — L’Express; Taco Time; Edo Japan; Marco’s Famous; Subway.
In HUB — Cookies By George; Bar Teca; In ETLC — Tim Horton’s
6. Green cleaning products
Conventional cleaning products may contain chemicals which can harm human and environmental health. Use green cleaners to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals and can improve the health of the planet.
7. Choose sustainable food options
Whenever possible, choose seasonal, local, organic food. Buy seasonal food that’s grown in local climate conditions (without greenhouses) and local food items. This will reduce the distance travelled from the farm to your plate and strengthen the local economy. Organic foods are produced without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
Fairtrade certification is a way to identify products sourced using equitable and ethical trading and sustainable practices. As a Fair Trade Campus, you can find ethical coffee and tea, and sometimes even chocolate, at all university or Students’ Union-operated cafes!
8. Laptop or tablet
Purchase an energy efficient computer, such as an iPad, non-gaming laptop, or Chromebook. Enabling the power-saving features can further save energy and reduce your environmental impact. Check out these other green computing ideas.
9. Recycled content school supplies
Recycling is only feasible if there is a market for recycled goods. Purchase school supplies that contain recycled content and close the loop by supporting the market for recycled materials, and reducing the demand for resources to make new products.
10. White board
Erasable whiteboards are reusable products that can replace paper notes, and therefore reduce waste.
11. Glass water bottle
Glass water bottles are durable and reusable. Also, glass is 100% recyclable at the end of its lifespan. Recycled glass can be used over and over again to make new glassware without any loss of quality.
12. Bamboo brush
Bamboo is a fast-growing grass that removes carbon dioxide from the air and does not require the use of pesticides to cultivate. It is a sustainable and renewable resource.
13. Green personal care products
Choose sustainable alternatives over conventional personal care products. This can reduce your exposure to synthetic chemicals as well as reduce your environmental impact.
14. Reusable organic cotton bag
Use reusable bags instead of plastic bags to reduce waste and save space in landfills. It’s estimated that the world consumes a million plastic bags each minute. It can take about 1,000 years for plastic to degrade in a landfill! The Sustainability Council’s bags are made from 100% organic cotton and represent a durable, reusable product.
15. Recycling bin
Recycling helps divert reusable products from the landfills. Did you know that about 92% of campus waste is recyclable or compostable? Click here to learn more about recycling on campus.
Learn more about sustainability on campus by booking a Sustainability Campus Tour.