A little environmental School House Rock

Eco School

Working on my Undergrad degree has been a broken trail for me as I have steadily committed to give it a place of importance, but never wanted it to be The Most Important piece in my very full life. There are other things that I have come before and will always come before my formal education. That being said, it has over the years remained important to me to graduate with a Bachelors degree and because of this I made a return to school last September. I am now attending University of Washington and it has been a very positive experience and I am very much enjoying this part of my life. There are some changes to my schooling habits that I have made upon my return that I would like to share with you.
In the spirit of ecological responsibility at universities around the world, I now present you with NOTES on Environmental Changes for Students (or anyone really):

  1. Travel Mug filled with: fair trade, organic tea; fair trade, organic, decaf coffee; or fair trade organic hot chocolate. So, good. Drinking a warm beverage is lovely on these cold, wet Seattle days.
    • Produces less waste than disposable cups
    • On campus they have a Tully’s that only uses fully compostable cups. However, unless you actually put these cups (like any compostable products) in your compost they are not compostable.
    • It provides a lovely treat while sitting in class or studying.
  2. Bring a refillable water bottle
  3. Take public transportation (or of course walk, bike, or carpool)
  4. Rebinders
  5. Recycled notebook paper
  6. Take notes on my computer through WordPress (how to below):
    • Install a webserver on your laptop. It’s easier than you think. There are packages that make it easy to install and setup (MAMP for a Mac and WAMP for a PC).
    • Create a database using the tools installed with either MAMP or WAMP.
    • Install WordPress. There will be some manual text editing you need to do for setup, but it’s minimal.
    • Create categories for each of your classes.
    • Start a new post for each class session.

    When you use this method of taking notes, you can easily look back at past class periods by date, and also there is a search function installed by default. If you run into trouble, my husband has offered assistance to those who need some direction. You can get in touch with him over at his company web site Vigilanteweb.

  7. Print only when a Professor requires a hard copy of an assignment and print on both the front and back of each paper.
    To print on the front and back from my computer I:

    1. Press Print
    2. Within the Print Detail page select Paper Handling
    3. Select “Print Odd Numbered Pages”
    4. Print
    5. Place either the single sheet or stack of printed pages face down in the paper tray with the bottom of the page closest to me in.
    6. Repeat steps 1 and 2
    7. Select “Print: Even Numbered Pages” and “Page Order: Reverse”
  8. Buy used Text Books. There are plenty out there already and they are usually cheaper. You can also check text books out of the library instead of buying it. A final suggestion is to book share. If you have a reliable classmate it may work out for you to share a text book and split the cost. Everyone has their own study habits and you know what works best for you.

If anyone else has tips feel free to share them through comments!

  • Elisabeth

    Just wanted to add that in addition to purchasing used textbooks, there are also several publishers who offer e-book versions of the textbooks for half or less of the price of purchasing a hard copy book from the store. When you get your class requirement lists, go online to the textbook publishers website and poke around for the text you need. Since your taking notes on your laptop (hopefully) anyway, its much easier to have an e-book and saves your back with carrying around tons of books :-)

  • Mollie


    The evernote site is so cool. What are ink notes? Thanks for sharing this site with your eco-clients. How is your "greening" coming along? ;)

  • Mollie


    Yo. I was thinking that if you are still into the enviro audit that I finally have some time and could work on that with you a bit. Let me know.

  • Mollie


    Oh good I am so glad!

  • Amy

    Hi Mollie! I just showed your blog to some eco-friendly clients today and they loved it. Great tips, and by the way I am REALLY glad that you're putting your college education high on your list right now. As for Wordpress for notetaking-- interesting idea. Having come from the paper-and-pen days of yore, I don't know what tools you kids use nowadays for that, and I have never used Wordpress or any other blogging software. But for all my business notetaking, I've really enjoyed Evernote: www.evernote.com. It lets you take freeform notes, add whole or part of websites as notes, include images easily, do ink notes, and it has a great tagging and search feature. It's kind of like a continuous roll of (recycled) toilet paper-- you just keep adding notes to the end of the roll. It auto-saves, and it's free.

  • Now that is some green schooling right there. Great job!

  • D. Lee Grooms

    Even though I'm not a (matriculated and tuition paying) student, some of these tips are still very handy as an urbanite and administrative type. Thanks for this!

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