How to be More Sustainable in Newhouse

Alex Caban-Echevarria headshot
Alex Caban-Echevarria

As graduate students, many of us have very busy schedules. Sometimes being crunched for time means breezing past small decisions. Part of being sustainable is being mindful of the choices you make. To be more sustainable in Newhouse, notice these four things you can reduce, reuse or recycle. 

Single-use plastic: If you’re buying plastic water bottles, save money by investing in a water bottle and filter pitcher. Although it may seem like something that’s too trendy and something else to worry about, carrying a reusable bottle will become a habit. An initial investment of $30 could save hundreds over months. 

Printing: Whether required for a class assignment or to help with reading, before printing an excessive amount, decide whether there is a more sustainable way to get a hard copy of something. Does a classmate have a printed copy of the reading you could borrow? Is the article or chapter from a book in the library? Can you ask your professor if they have a copy or if the assignment needs to be handed in physically? While we have printing money, we don’t get penalized for not using it. 

Taking notes on paper: Buying and starting new notebooks at the beginning of the semester is satisfying, but is there another way to take handwritten notes? Whether it be finishing a notebook from last year or using your laptop or tablet if the class allows, repurposing already existing paper can help to reduce waste. Like digitally handing in assignments, seeing if an e-textbook is available can be another sustainable swap. 

a reusable water bottle
A reusable water bottle. (Photo by Alex Caban-Echevarria)

Food waste: Whether packing or buying food, reducing, reusing or recycling plastic wrap or uneaten food is something anyone can do. If you pack lunch, consider using reusable containers. If you pack lunch and end up buying something or not eating it, you can also use those containers to save it for later. 

Remember that small choices add up and big changes can influence everything you do. Sustainability is for everyone, even busy graduate students. By valuing the resources you have, you end up saving money in the long run. Asking yourself whether something is necessary or if there is an alternative way will impact every aspect of your life, not just for being sustainable. Creative solutions are out there; you just have to look for them! 

Alex Caban-Echevarria is a graduate student in the magazine, news and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.