Going green:

Alex Kamczyc

People on this planet use a ton of energy every year, so much so that scientists are saying that it’s the reason for our current global warming.

College students are no exception. The average college student produces 640 pounds of solid waste each year, including 500 disposable cups and 320 pounds of paper, according to a Boston University study.

“I think it’s more important than ever for students to care about it because the consequences will impact them and their life,” said Joe Clark, associate professor and faculty advisor to the Kent State Environmental Society. “The earth can’t just give and give and give. There are limits and with nine billion people (on the planet), the Earth is starting to reach those limits.”

A carbon footprint is a measure of how much emissions, like greenhouse gases are emitted by an individual, group or product. The higher your carbon footprint, the more you’re damaging the climate.

Here are five ways you can reduce your carbon footprint:


Be careful about the amount of energy you use.

If you live in a dorm room, be mindful about plug loads, or how many electronics are plugged into the wall. Minimizing these plugs can help cut down the amount of energy you consume during the day, even if they’re not in use.

“Most of our electronics these days have what’s called a phantom load or vampire load, which means that even when it’s turned off, it’s still drawing power,” said Melanie Knowles, the sustainability manager for Kent State.

If you want to decrease your energy load, remember to unplug devices you’re not using every day, and use power strips to let your electrical outlets breathe.


Consider alternatives for getting to campus.

“I’ve worked at Kent State for eight years now, I have yet to buy a parking pass,” Clark said. “I either walk to work or I ride my bike to work, and that was a conscious choice that I’ve made.”

Ride a bike, walk to class, carpool or ride the PARTA bus system instead of driving your car to class every day.

Kent State offers solutions such as Zipcar, and the carpooling service Gohio Commute aimed at connecting students together to ride together to class.


Reducing how much food and other products you consume weekly is also important to living sustainably.

Things like what food you eat can really affect the environment because the livestock industry, which involves raising cows and chickens, creates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all of the cars, trucks and other vehicles combined. It also directly affects the environment because those in the industry have to create new grazing pastures to meet the demand of their products.

“We’re not saying that everyone has to become a vegan or vegetarian,” Knowles said. “Even by having a meatless Monday and reducing the amount of meat consumption can help because meat production has a big environmental and energy impact.”


One of easiest ways a student can reduce their carbon footprint is by recycling.

“Recycling really does have an impact,” Knowles said. “Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to power a laptop for five hours.”

Kent State’s sustainability office has taken the initiative to put recycle bins in almost, if not all, of the buildings on campus with information on what you can and can’t recycle.

It’s all single stream too, which means you don’t have to worry about separating the products into groups before recycling them ­— items like water bottles, cardboard boxes and paper.


The final thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is just be aware.

“It’s a misconception to think of the environment as something that is separate from us,” Knowles said. “Every resource that we use comes from the environment, and every waste product that we produce goes back into that environment.”

Alex Kamczyc is a features correspondent. Contact him at [email protected].