Tips for living “green” on campus

Forest McKenzie

The first weeks of the academic year bring new students not only the beginning of classes, but also an abundance of choices about living here at Lawrence University. These choices are a result of living a more independent life, away from parents and — for some — away from their hometown.
Every choice made takes into account values that we have learned and developed over our lifetimes. Here at Lawrence, we are embarking as a community to foster values that encourage environmental responsibility.
However, just being a member of the LU community will not sew these environmental values within you. They must be developed on a personal level, through your own choices and not those of your university.
The advantage of being a part of Lawrence and the Fox Cities communities is that so many opportunities exist for discovering your own environmental values. These opportunities present themselves in everyday decisions but can also be planned events — like walking down by the Fox River or organizing a trip to High Cliff State Park.
The following are recommendations that may energize your interest for living a more environmentally friendly life here at Lawrence. This list does not include double-sided printing, turning out unneeded lights, recycling, using fewer napkins at Andrew Commons, etc., because I assume most have tried and partake in these activities already.
Here are some conservation tips regarding two essential Lawrence activities: computer use and showering. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it is not detrimental for your computer to be shut down during periods of inactivity — for example, shutting it down before you go to bed. Powering off will not shorten the useful life of your computer.
Additionally, the DOE recommends that you use a power strip to turn off your electronic devices completely. This prevents “phantom” energy users, devices that use energy even when they are shut off, from drawing power. Computers are one of many culprits.
Another natural resource that deserves considerable attention is water. To give an idea of water’s importance, consider that freshwater available in lakes, swamps and rivers makes up only about 0.0082 percent of water on Earth.
So, to help play your part, consider taking a “Navy” shower. This type of showering involves turning the shower on only to initially wet the skin and hair and then on again to rinse the lather off. Now, if you were actually in the Navy, this would probably be limited to around two minutes. However, feel free to try this method and adjust it however you need.
Since the 1970s, improving our environment has been portrayed as synonymous with improving human health. While this idea may not always be proven, environmental sciences have demonstrated numerous connections between human health and environmental quality.
One way to insure the quality of our drinking water is to properly dispose of prescription and over-the-counter medications. When these drugs are flushed into the sewer system or infiltrate groundwater, the chemicals are not filtered out by current wastewater treatment technologies.
To prevent the accumulation of these drugs in drinking water, it is recommended that you take appropriate measures when trying to dispose of expired or unwanted medications.
Call your pharmacy to see if they will take them back. If not, participate in a municipality sponsored medication collection, such as these for residents of Outagamie County:
Oct. 17 — Aurora Pharmacy, inside Copps Food Center, 1919 E. Calumet Street, Appleton. 10 a.m. – noon
Oct 23 — Thompson Community Center, 820 W. College Ave., Appleton. Noon – 3 p.m.
You can continue to check the Outagamie County Web page for more collection dates in the future here:
As a last resort, pills and capsules are to be dissolved by adding some water to the original vial. Secure the vial and remove all identifying information from the label. Then place it into a bag and secure everything inside a larger opaque container with tape. Make sure this second container is clean so as not to attract wildlife or pets.
Liquid medications should be made unappealing by adding salt, spices, flour, etc. They should then be packaged and disposed of in a similar manner. These disposal methods are a last resort and should be taken seriously when disposing of medication in the trash.
“PBS Frontline” has produced a documentary titled “Poisoned Waters” on this and related issues. It can be watched online at this address:
Certain environmentally conscious services available for students at Lawrence are well publicized, such as environmental documentaries, speakers, student groups — such as Greenfire and SLUG — and classes.
However, a few things tend to be overlooked. Batteries can be recycled by placing them in the designated can in the library foyer. New Trek bikes are available for student use — just use your student ID at the Warch Campus Center to check one out — and the caf***eacute**** staff in the new campus center will fill your reusable travel mugs instead of using paper cups. Small steps like these are just a few ways that sustainable choices can be made on campus.
As for getting around when you are not on campus, try using some of the Fox Cities’ trails. Nearest to Lawrence is the Newberry Trail, which has points of access just across the Lawe Street and Old Oneida bridges. The following Web site provides a detailed map of all trails within the Fox Cities area:
Appleton’s Valley Transit bus system also provides a bus stop nearby the Mudd Library. For fare information — multi-day/ride passes are available — and route schedule, check out the Web site here: For an added bonus, all buses are equipped with bike racks.
Just Act Natural, LLC, is a new downtown business that opened in 2009. The business is dedicated to sustainable and ethical products “that will benefit the well-being of your body, home, community and planet.”
The store provides a large selection of environmentally responsible products and is located downtown at 129 E. College Ave. The store also offers a discount to Lawrence students who inquire, and it has a Facebook page.
The mission statement of Just Act Natural, LLC describes a commitment to researching and supporting manufacturers “who create their goods in a sustainable and socially responsible manner using natural, organic, non-toxic or recycled materials.”
Other environmentally and socially responsible goods can be found downtown at Kindred Spirits Organics, 10 College Ave. Suite 112A in the City Center, and Globally Sound, 604 West College Ave. I highly recommend stopping in at these places and voting with your wallet.
Also, do not forget that the farmer’s market continues every Saturday — except Sept. 26th — until Oct. 31. This market is a great opportunity to meet people and live a little more locally.
Lastly, to truly discover your environmental values, make it a point to talk with others and volunteer together on projects that interest you. While it may seem small, the combined impact of your hours, dollars and words will be worth as much to you as they will be for the planet.