Ahh, it’s almost Fall again. As an entering senior in college, I know all-too-well the anxiety and excitement that comes with entering or returning to school. While my college experience did not take place in a typical college town, I’ve lived on campus all through my college career so I know a thing or two about what comes along with it.
Today, I wanted to talk about leading an eco-friendly lifestyle while living on campus. Having your own space in a dorm, whether it’s a shared suite or an apartment, means that there will be no adults breathing over your shoulder telling you what to do. But this doesn’t mean that you should automatically let your morals and inhibitions fly out the window. Remember your morals, your standards, and what you believe. Don’t get suckered into convenience and laziness promoted by many fellow students. Heard of the “Freshman 15”? It’s real.
1. Interacting with Fellow Students:
- First of all, as a vegetarian/vegan living on campus, you must realize that continuing this lifestyle may be difficult although certainly not impossible. The most difficult thing you might face is being in contact with others who don’t understand or respect your lifestyle choices. That’s okay, because you will always meet people who simply don’t understand – in the end, those are usually the people who will be gaining the weight and leading a lazy life while in school, missing class and getting a little too “wild” at your next party.
- Don’t spend too much time worrying about what other people think; simply tell them you’re a vegan and that you care a lot about your lifestyle choices and close the discussion if you sense the person isn’t supportive. They’ll move on and eventually it’ll just become normal. It’s all about exposing others’ to different things and getting them accustomed to it.
2. Dining Hall Survival
- Eating a vegetarian/vegan diet in college is not as difficult as one might imagine. Thankfully, most colleges and universities have adopted the vegetarian-friendly menus and there are plenty of options for us to choose from. Simply ask the cafeteria employees about vegan options. They will have no problem telling you today’s vegan option on the menu.
- If there is no vegan menu, write to the campus board or suggestion box, encouraging them to include more vegan and vegetarian options. Most of the time, they will view these suggestions positively and comply.
3. Stocking your Dorm Room
- Another good idea for leading a healthy lifestyle on campus is to buy your own groceries whenever possible. Locate your nearest grocery store and get your fruits, veggies, and healthy snacks so that you aren’t stuck in the middle of class with hunger pangs and nothing but a vending machine nearby. Plan ahead.
- If you are living in a suite rather than apartment, think about buying a mini-fridge so that your food can stay fresh longer.
4. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
- In addition to healthy eating, remember to continue being eco-friendly as well. Many dormitories provide students with separate recycling bins – make sure to use them and separate your garbage accordingly. If you haven’t been provided with a recycling bin, do the job yourself and have two garbage bins – one for recycling and one regular, and insist for the campus to get a recycling system.
- Make sure to also reuse products whenever possible- this is not only eco-friendly, but it will also save you a bunch of money. Reuse water bottles by refilling them with filtered water, use grocery bags as garbage bags, or better yet use a reusable grocery bag. Instead of buying coffee at the store and having them use paper cups, bring your own thermos and have them put the coffee or tea in that.
- Also make sure to turn off lights when not used in the room. While you aren’t paying for utilities when living on campus, it’s not pleasant having a light bulb go out in the middle of a study-session in your room, so avoid that by planning ahead.
Vegan and eco-friendly lifestyles are not as difficult in college as one might think. All you need is some creativity and the willingness to make it happen! Have a great school year!
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