The World Needs You – 10 Ways to Live Sustainably at RIT

Man using Ozzi reusable machine

Earth is our home. Now, more than ever, we need to be mindful and make strides towards sustainability. Although there are efforts to save the planet, such as major ocean cleanups and testing new sustainable energy alternatives, nothing will be enough until we all pitch in and do our part. Everyone is busy in college; it can be easy to prioritize convenience over sustainability. However, there are small things that all of us can easily do on campus that will help save our planet. Here are 10 ways to be more sustainable right here at RIT:

1. Separate the recyclables out of your trash

a small pug putting plastic bottles into a recyclable bin and paper into a paper bin.

Don’t just toss everything in the trash. Think about what can and cannot go into a recycling bin before throwing it all out together. Read the labels on the trash and recycling bins that indicate what goes where. RIT does a great job of providing both recycling and trash bins outside on-campus apartments, throughout dorms, in all academic buildings, and around all dining areas.

For reference, you cannot put food waste, caps & lids, plastic bags, wrappers, styrofoam, wood, or used tissues and paper towels in the single-stream recycling containers. You can put in plastics 1-7, paper, cardboard, glass, and metal. However, if there is food or product in the containers, make sure to empty it before you do. For example, if the pizza box becomes covered in excessive grease, the fibers in the paper box cannot be recovered.

2. Try the Ozzi system

Each incoming freshman will receive a token that will get them one reusable and recyclable plastic to-go container. The containers keep food warm and are microwave safe, as well as BPA-free. You can use your container at Gracie’s, Sol’s Underground, and Brick City Café. Hand your token to the employee in charge of the containers, fill up it with your food, eat, and then return the container to the Ozzi machine. It is not only sustainable, but it is also a super easy way to pick up food on the go!

3. Use the water filling stations

Ditch the single-use plastic water bottles. There are plenty of water filling stations around campus at RIT. RIT is even implementing new ones that are sensory operated. Buying a reusable water bottle will even save you money in the long run.

young girl kicking a plastic water bottle off of a punching bag and then kicking it again while it is in the air

4. Use reusable utensils and straws

two red straws and a "kapow!" hitting them out of the photo

Think about every time you get an iced coffee from Midnight Oil, a soup to-go from Nathan’s, or a salad from Ritz – and all of the single-use utensils you use. Each year, 40 billion plastic utensils are produced. Because recycling rates are so low, many of these utensils end up in landfills or in the ocean. Bring your own reusable utensils and together we can make a difference!

5. Buy from Goodbye, Goodbuy

At the end of the year, donate your unwanted items to Goodbye, Goodbuy instead of throwing them in a dumpster. At the beginning of the following school year, students can come and buy the gently used, recycled items for cheap! Resale stores don’t always take everything and it can be a hassle to drag all of your unwanted items there. There are many Goodbye, Goodbuy collection spots on campus, so it’s just as easy as throwing things out. Plus, Goodbye, Goodbuy takes just about everything. Clear out your room, and your conscience!

a gif from the macklemore thriftshop music video of him putting on a fur coat he had thrifted

6. Try different methods of transportation

4 men biking and high fiving each other

Skip the car ride and try biking to class. There is a limited time to do this since the weather quickly turns bitter cold – so, don’t wait! IF you need to go shopping on weekends, try taking the bus! Sharing a bus cuts down on the amount of gas used. If you live in one of the on-campus apartments the shuttle system is a good alternative to driving, and walking is an even more environmentally friendly one.

7. Turn off your lights when you leave for class

So simple, so obvious, but sometimes we forget. Flick the lights off before you leave. Making this a part of your routine literally takes seconds and will save electricity. Also, try to keep your lights off as much as possible. Open the curtains and let the sun light up your room. Although you may not think that this does much, over time you will save a lot of energy and cut down your energy bill.

gif of a light bulb turning off

8. Bring your own coffee mug

a close up shot of someone filling up a coffee mug, that reads "always do what you love"

Single use cups, lids, and straws have a detrimental effect on the environment. Instead of using these, opt out for bringing your own coffee mug! Not only is this good for the environment, but your wallet will thank you too. Beanz, Artesanos, and Midnight Oil only charge the size of a small if you bring your own mug. Javas also charges a discount.

9. Get reusable bags for shopping

NYS recently passed legislation to ban single-use plastic shopping bags! Although this is great news for our planet, it may serve as an inconvenience to some. Instead of using paper bags at the store, buy some cheap reusable shopping bags for all of your future trips. Some stores, such as Target, will give you discounts if you use these bags.

shot from "home alone" where kevin is walking with plastic bags and they break

10. Reduce food waste at Gracie’s

Throwing out uneaten food wastes nearly a quarter of our water supply. Additionally, when it is dumped in landfills, it rots and becomes a significant source of methane. This creates 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Finish your plate or simply don’t take too much! This will help with generating better portions for food supply. When in doubt, take a little less and then go back up for seconds if you’re still hungry!

We desperately need to change the way we are treating our planet before it’s too late. Although this only scratches the surface of what we need to do, following these 10 sustainability tips will make a big difference. Remember, the Earth is our home; everyone is obligated to take care of it.  

Tagged: going green, health, RIT, tiger health