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The Green Life: Hey Mr. Green, How Can I Be Cool at School?

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August 13, 2013

Hey Mr. Green, How Can I Be Cool at School?

Mr. GreenI’m an environmentalist going off to college. What’s the best thing I can do for the earth once I’m there? --Ted in St. Louis, Missouri

To misquote the immortal Johnny Cash, “Don’t take your car to school son / Leave your car at home.”

Abandoning your wheels is one of the greatest things you can do to shrink your collegiate environmental footprint, since burning a gallon of gas emits almost 20 pounds of carbon dioxide. That’s 600 pounds of CO2 in just four 200-mile trips home and back.

If you must travel off campus, take the bus or train—or sign up for a car-sharing service like Zipcar, which has locations at more than 100 U.S. colleges. Most schools also have online ride-share boards.

In addition to preventing all that pollution, not having a car at school will also save you from excruciating parking searches and keep some serious cash in your wallet: Campus parking passes can cost as much as $300 per semester, plus there’s the wad you would have to spend on fuel.

Many schools make the environmental decision for you, banning vehicles for freshmen or enacting other tough vehicular restrictions. In fact, frosh aren’t allowed to have cars at five of the top 10 liberal arts colleges in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking.

If you were already planning to be car-free at school, you can ditch the popular but energy-sucking dorm-room mini-fridge. And if your campus doesn’t ban cars, you could start a campaign encouraging administrators to do so, which will give your university a better shot at placing high on Sierra’s annual ranking of eco-colleges. --Bob Schildgen

Got a question? Ask Mr. Green!

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