When your child goes away to college it can be a daunting experience for many parents. Having your child live away from home for the first time can be nerve-wracking. This is especially true for parents who firmly believe in living a green life – that is, helping the environment through their everyday actions and activities.
Never fear, loving parent! There are many different ways in which you can encourage your child to continue with your green outlook on life once they move away. Here are ten tips for helping your child to live a greener life at college.
10 Ways For Your Child To Live Green At College
1. Encourage them to leave their car at home
Encouraging your child to leave their car at home means that they’ll have to take public transport (or walk!) when going out and about, which is a greener way to travel. In fact, many colleges don’t allow cars if you’re staying in residency.
If that’s the case, perhaps consider suggesting that your child sells the car rather than having it sit in your garage for months without use. That way, they’ll get a chunk of money to use at college and you won’t have to worry about the upkeep of an unused car.
2. Teach them good recycling habits
Good recycling habits start at home. Set up different recycle bins in your home for each type of common recyclables (plastic, paper, card, cans) and also ensure your child knows what other types of materials are recyclable.
‘Unusual suspects’ that you might not think are recyclable include deodorant cans, bleach bottles, and shampoo/conditioner bottles. Other items that are recyclable are batteries, electronics, mobile phones, clothes, shoes, food waste, and magazines.
3. Purchase a supply of energy-saving lightbulbs
Let’s face it, when they get to college, your child probably isn’t going to worry too much about the type of light bulbs that they purchase. They are likely to go for the cheapest rather than the greenest.
When you’ve inspected your child’s accommodation to see what style of light bulbs are needed, go out and buy them a collection of energy-saving bulbs. That way, you’ll know that they’ll be used – if it’s a choice between buying a new bulb and using one they already own, well… you know which option they’ll choose!
4. Print vs. Digital
Your child will probably be given a reading list of books that need to be purchased for their course. Rather than buying paper copies, which use up valuable earth resources, try buying electronic versions instead. Most books nowadays can be bought on Amazon Kindle – often for a fraction of the price of the printed book.
If your child doesn’t have an e-reader device, perhaps purchase them one as a ‘going away gift’. Even with the cost of the reader, you’ll probably spend less in total than if you bought the physical copies of each book.
Plus, it’s much easier to carry an e-reader to class than a big heavy textbook!
5. Eco-friendly cleaning supplies
Pack your child off to college with eco-friendly cleaning supplies to help them live a greener existence whilst away. Many standard household cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can be damaging if they find their way into waterways or are spilled on floors. Eco-friendly alternatives are a sager, greener option.
6. Teach them how to cook
Steer your child away from convenience food with its excess packaging and high energy manufacturing cost by teaching them how to cook cheap, filling, healthy meals. Pasta dishes, chicken dishes, and rice dishes are all good options and they are easy to bulk up so that they last for several meals.
Here are some cheap meal ideas for living at college:
7. Coordinate bedsheets & towels
Try to purchase bed linen (sheets, duvet cover, pillowcases) in the same color as towels so that they can all be put into one load of washing rather than having to separate them and put on several light loads.
The less washing loads your child has to do, the less water and power they will use. Many colleges have launderettes where you have to pay for each wash, so they’ll appreciate saving their dollars too.
8. Purchase a clothes horse
Not only are tumble dryers expensive when you have to pay for them on a per-cycle basis, but they use a large amount of electricity and pump hot air into the atmosphere. A clothes horse can be a great investment for your child at college. They don’t take up much space and they will dry clothes absolutely free.
Make sure your child is aware of the importance of room ventilation if they are drying clothes inside – you don’t want their room to become moldy or damp.
9. Recycle old electronics
Your child may be tempted to treat themselves to a new phone, computer, or television before moving away. If that’s the case, and you have no need for their old models, tempt them into recycling them. Some recycling systems will even pay you money for your old phones or devices.
10. Don’t force it!
One last thing to remember is that, as a parent, all you can do is steer your child in the green direction – you can’t force it upon them. Gentle encouragement on living a greener lifestyle as well as making a green living the norm when at home is often the most effective way to pass on the eco-friendly bug.
Nagging or being overly forceful about the importance of recycling, eco-friendly products, public transport, and saving electricity is likely to be met with a roll of the eye and one-word response. You’ll be ignored, or worse, your child will specifically do the opposite of what you say just because they don’t like being told what to do.
Educating your child subtly about green living before they go to college is the best way of encouraging them to take up the green mantle themselves.