College urges students to ‘go green’

Travel in car pools, Turn off the lights

Recycling is often the first thought that emerges in discussions of environmental awareness. But whether it is protecting endangered species, driving solar-powered cars, or using recyclable products, students around the globe are setting examples of earth-friendly behavior.

The nation’s largest higher-education institution by enrollment, Miami Dade College, is trying to get students to “go green.” The college provides a car-pooling system, recycling bins in every classroom, and even has an environmental center.

Many students get the message and stay environmentally active when they are off campus.

Diana Gonzalez, 20, who attends the college’s Kendall Campus, volunteers in a privately owned wildlife preserve for endangered species.

“When people think of helping the environment, they instantly think of recycling or solar-powered cars,” Gonzalez said. “Animals are a huge part of the environment. They keep the natural cycle of the earth going, and by helping the endangered animals or those that are almost endangered, I really feel that I am helping.”

Another environmentally conscious student is Matt Mansilla, 25, a student at the college’s North Campus. “I make sure to turn off all of the lights and fans around my house when I’m not using them,” Mansilla said. “I also unplug a few electrical items because even if they aren’t on, they can still use up electricity by being plugged in.”

Mansilla carries a reusable water bottle rather than buying plastic water bottles because, he said, it would be a poor use of plastic that rarely gets recycled or disposed of properly. Studies have shown that only one out of five water bottles is recycled after use in the United States.

Student-run projects nationally are attempting to minimize pollution. At Seattle University, students use leftover vegetables and fruits to fertilize gardens. At Pacific Lutheran University, a math class meets in a building without a carbon footprint. Students and staff members at the University of Washington drive hybrid cars.

American campuses are not alone in setting the pace. Australia has banned inefficient incandescent light bulbs at universities and colleges. The Japanese have found an eco-friendly way of cooling homes and buildings during the summer by using the snow from the winter. China and Europe use energy-efficient cars.

Sarah Romero, 22, also a student at the Kendall Campus, said her whole family is involved in protecting the environment. They  carry reusable bags when they go grocery-shopping and carpool or ride bicycles whenever possible.

“I make sure to buy things that are made out of reusable items like recycled paper and plastic,” Romero said. “I‘ve even gotten used to using less hair spray.”

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