Sending your child off to college can be a bittersweet experience, but at some point or another, you need to face the fact that they’ve grown up. It’s time to do your absolute best to help them start their own life on the right foot.
While your first instinct might be to go all out in making sure your child has everything they need as they prepare to start their new college life, it’s still worth taking a little time and forethought to make sure that the move is sustainably-minded too. Here are a few tips and tricks you can implement to ensure that the moving process — as well as the life your college student has on campus — is as smooth and green as possible.
Recycle Your Belongings
When your child moves from your home to a college campus, it can be wise to plan the move and create checklists of what they’ll need ahead of time. This can help them remember everything that needs to be done and ensure that you go about packing and moving things in sustainable ways that minimize waste as well.
There are big-ticket items like their bed, desk, or couch, as well as smaller basics that are helpful to have upon arrival, like dishes, silverware, and even a trash can. If you have any of these in your own house that will ultimately be unused once your child has moved out, consider sending it along with them.
If, on the other hand, you have several larger items that end up being left behind, make sure to dispose of them properly once they are no longer needed. Consider donating larger things like bed frames, tables, and chairs, and look for proper recycling stations where things like televisions and mattresses can be properly recycled.
Go Paperless Where Possible
College has traditionally been a place where paper is used in enormous quantities. From homework assignments to final papers, notes, textbooks, and more, the paper consumption of academic institutions has historically been nothing short of gigantic. One student even estimated that they alone were required to use 26 pounds of paper in a single semester … getting an Environmental Studies degree.
Nowadays, though, that doesn’t need to be the case. Some colleges, like Penn State, have initiated their own efforts to reduce paper consumption. You can help by equipping your child with a few basic items like a tablet, kindle, or laptop beforehand in order to enable them to eliminate the majority of their paper needs in one fell swoop.
Encourage “Cooking In”
Try to equip your child with things like a microwave, cooking utensils, and at least a rudimentary knowledge of food prep. Taking their cooking into their own hands allows your students to control what foods they’re eating on a regular basis, which can have a third benefit of helping them stay fit and healthy throughout their tenure at school.
This will also allow them to prepare their own food on campus rather than spend copious amounts of money eating out. This not only saves cash but also ensures that fewer disposable utensils, plates, and cups are thrown away on a daily basis, dramatically decreasing the amount of waste that they are creating.
Ditch Your Car
It’s easy for young adults to get swept up in the exhilarating, new experiences associated with adulthood, and one of the most iconic of these is getting their first car. Getting a license and a car has been a right of passage for graduating high schoolers and aspiring young college students for decades. And yet, if you’re looking for practical, affordable, sustainable ways to move to college, you may actually want to consider ditching that car entirely.
Obviously, some scenarios will require a car, such as if the student’s dorm room is too far away from their classrooms or your child ultimately decides to commute instead of fully move onto the campus. However, in most cases, college campuses are fairly contained geographically speaking. There are plenty of forms of alternative transportation to take advantage of.
Most classes are within reasonable walking distance, and if some are too far, students should consider a bicycle or having a small cash allowance set aside for ride-hailing services. Then, all you need to do is either use your own vehicle or rent a moving van in order to get everything to the campus before their first semester starts. One way or another, it’s fairly easy to reduce or even eliminate entirely the need for a vehicle on a day-to-day basis, along with the carbon footprint that a vehicle naturally creates.
Rent Some Storage Space
It’s easy to shrug your shoulders and resign yourself to investing all of the time, effort, and costs involved in lugging all of your kid’s belongings back and forth between home and your campus every semester. After all, it’s just part of the college experience, right? Before making that assumption, though, you may want to consider finding them an eco-friendly alternative: rent a storage unit.
If you find a local storage facility near your campus, it can be the perfect place to store your child’s belongings between semesters. By the time you factor in any savings from not needing to rent a moving van on a regular basis — not to mention the gas and CO2 emissions that come along with all of that extra driving — you may find it’s well worth the cost and can help keep your carbon footprint to a minimum too.
Embrace Thrift Shopping
Another obvious way to keep things green is to have your college student visit the local thrift store in order to beef up their wardrobe after they’re done settling in. This allows them to have some independence in selecting and maintaining a decent selection of clothes. At the same time, though, it ensures that they’re helping keep things eco-conscious in the process. Manufacturing clothing uses copious amounts of water, energy, and chemicals, while purchasing used clothes also avoids adding even more waste to landfills.
Get Them a Nice Parting Gift
Finally, a small but impactful gesture you may want to consider is purchasing a reusable water bottle for your fledgling student in order to help keep their waste at a minimum. In addition, consider creating an herbal care package in order to equip them with safe, green alternatives that they can use to deal with any health struggles they may encounter while away.
Going Green With Your College Move
Remember that once your child has reached college age, they’re preparing to launch out on their own. Gone are the days where you should be doing everything for them, so try to resist the urge to continue to do that now. Instead, teach and inform them about how to make clean, sustainable decisions on their own so that, once the big move is done, they can continue to live an Earth-conscious lifestyle, even when they’re not under your own roof.