What can YOU do to make a difference?
Whether you are new to UTC or have just decided to make lifestyle changes, there are many things you can do to be sustainable, even as a student! We don't need a handful of people making change perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.
Written by: Brennan Bagli and Ashley Bosecker
#1 Get involved
There are many organizations on campus that care about sustainability! Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can help you and other members of the community! The Wildlife and Zoology Club, EDGE, and the Geology Club are the most prominent on campus, and their meetings are always open to anyone interested! Check out our Student Organization page or MocSync for more details on these clubs. If you don't have time to join a club, volunteer! Our office is always looking for volunteers to help with events or everyday tasks, so don't hesitate to reach out to us!
#2 Reduce your waste
Single-use plastic is one of the biggest problems for our environment, it never goes away! Plastic is created with toxic chemicals that are bad for you and our planet. We use plastic once and it is here to stay for the rest of our lifetimes. Many plastics have a reusable substitute- like straws, grocery bags, and bottles! Try skipping the straw, going to the grocery store with a reusable bag or carry around a refillable water bottle! Use reusable silverware and utensils such as reusable metal or bamboo forks and knives and metal straws to avoid using non-recyclable plastics. Try buying a Brita filter to filter your tap water instead of buying bottled water! Even ensuring that you recycle your plastic will help sustainability efforts and help keep our planet clean.
#3 Be mindful
It is easy for us all to get swept away in our daily lives, consumed with thoughts about ourselves. However, by taking a step back and realizing how our habits and lifestyles effect our “carbon footprint” can make a huge difference. Try by taking shorter showers, walking or biking instead of driving, or even skipping the hamburger and trying fresh, locally grown veggies. Knowing where the food you eat comes from and making smarter choices while shopping will make a bigger impact than you think!
#4 Repurpose and Reuse
Instead of going to the mall to purchase brand new clothes and “fast fashion”, try thrifting or visiting a secondhand store, like Plato’s Closet or Style Encore. Donate or sell your clothes for others to enjoy instead of throwing them away. If something is broken, try fixing it or creating something new out of it. Shopping second-hand also prevents many things from going in the landfill. Check out thrift shops, used bookstores, and Habitat for Humanity for great finds!
If you live on campus, recycling amenities are within your grasp! There are indoor and outdoor recycling bins for you to take advantage of. However, if you are a commuting/off campus student, you may not have the option to recycle. There are two options for off campus students- you can either: a) collect your recycling and when you’re ready, you can travel to the closest city recycling center and drop it off. Or b) you can request a curbside single-stream recycling bin from the city by downloading Chatt311 from your app store. A bin will be delivered to your address and kept outside, pick up is usually biweekly. Our campus also has "TechnoTrash" recepticles to place old technology that you don't use anymore!
Educating yourself and becoming aware of the issues that we as a society are facing is the most important thing you can do. Become familiar with your impact and the impact of many policies.
#7 Shop Local
There are plenty of small businesses and farmer’s markets in Chattanooga. Instead of opting for Walmart, check out the Chattanooga Market at the First TN Pavillion, open Sundays 11-4 from April to December. By shopping locally, you can prevent tons of carbon emissions associated with corporate transportation!
#8 Reduce your Energy and Water Use
It may seem trivial, but conserving energy and water is a very important action you can adopt in your lifestyle! When leaving your room, make sure to turn off the lights. Make sure you turn down your thermostat to 68°F during the day in the winter and leave it up at 78°F during the summer. Take shorter showers and turn off the water when brushing your teeth to avoid using excess water. If you see a faucet dripping, make sure you call maintenance to avoid wasting water!