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10 Ways to Lead a Sustainable Lifestyle on Campus and in the Community

field day
students learn outside
students sort trash after football game

1. Learn and Research

Education provides us with the knowledge and critical thinking we need to be better global citizens. Education plays an integral role in building a more sustainable community on two levels. First, a liberal education provides the broad perspective that helps people understand the world and its needs, along with the interconnectedness of the various aspects of sustainability. Second, education provides practical skills, knowledge, and opportunities to apply that know-how for the betterment of society. 

Take a class, attend a workshop on campus or in the community, stay up to date with current information and engage with others who share similar passions!

Sustainability Courses  Sustainability Programs  Peer to Peer Education Programs

2. Get Involved

Find community with peers who care about similar issues as you by joining one of Grand Valley's many sustainability related organizations. 

Sustainability Student Organizations LakerLink

3. Alternate Transportation

Not only is the bus free for faculty, staff and students but it will massively reduce your carbon foot print! 

Reliable transportation is essential in day-to-day life, and the method of transportation we choose has a direct impact on our environment, health, and pocketbook. Reducing the number of vehicles on roads minimizes traffic congestion, accidents, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and air pollution. 

The Rapid Bus System GVSU Bike Services Rapid Green Ride

4. Reduce Waste

Americans generate 4.4 pounds of garbage daily. 

Waste is a distinctly human problem. In nature, there is no waste, as all is recycled back into the earth, while humans use landfills that have significant negative impacts on our society. Landfills are a big ticket expense for municipalities and local governments to maintain. Landfills also can leach toxic chemicals into the environment, and they tend to be disproportionately located near marginalized communities. Therefore, working to minimize waste has social, economic, and environmental benefits. 

How to Sort Waste

5. Stay Active

Healthy lifestyles help to create balanced, fit, and vibrant individuals, families, and communities. With rising health care costs, there has been increased focus on health and wellness programs, as it is more cost effective to prevent issues than treat the problem after diagnosis. Feeling connected with our bodies and achieving a healthy state of mind through eating well, enjoying leisure activities, and living an active lifestyle can lead to a higher quality of life. 

Campus Recreation 

6. Save Energy

Reliance on fossil fuels has numerous negative environmental consequences, including climate change and pollution of the air and water, along with social effects like higher asthma rates for inner-city children and political instability in oil-producing nations. Reducing reliance on fossil fuels through energy conservation and development of renewable energy sources is a way to lessen these impacts. 

Energy Saving Tips

7. Conserve Water

Water is an essential building block of life, so the growing demand and pollution of it is gaining increasing attention. Along with thinking about how to reduce the amount of water we consume, we also need to be conscious of what we put down the drain and how pollutants are ending up in our water systems through runoff. Water that originates from rain, snow melt, or too much irrigation and that does not soak into the ground becomes surface runoff, carrying with it pollutants from impermeable surfaces. Government studies have shown that up to 70 percent of the pollution in our streams, rivers, and lakes is carried there by storm water. 

GVSU Water Initiatives 

8. Shop Green

Sustainable purchasing is all about taking environmental and social factors and considerations into account when making purchasing decisions. It is about looking at what your products are made of, where they come from, who has made them, and how they can be disposed. For every dollar you spend at a local business, 68 cents will stay and circulate in the local economy. However, if you spend that same dollar at a non-local business, only 43 cents of that dollar will stay in the local economy. 

Purchasing at GVSU

9. eat Green

Sustainable agriculture is a way of producing food that’s healthy to eat, doesn’t harm the environment, is humane for workers, respects animals, provides a fair wage to the farmer, and supports and enhances local communities. Since there is no “sustainable” label, eating sustainably means understanding the issues, getting involved with your food, and knowing the people who grow and sell it.

GVSU Sustainable Agriculture Project  Farm to Table 

10. Volunteer

In addition to the positive changes that are possible when you become involved with your community, there are numerous personal advantages. Community engagement can enrich your life by helping you connect with others, giving you the opportunity to develop your personal interests, and providing a way to “give back.”

Grand Valley is dedicated to being a good neighbor in the West Michigan community and to engaging with the community in a leadership role. GVSU faculty and staff members and students have developed collaborations, working relationships, and partnerships with numerous businesses and organizations to benefit the community.

As an institution where “shaping societies” is part of the mission statement, Grand Valley offers students multiple opportunities to make a difference. Sustainability is incorporated into almost every field of study, from the humanities to business to health sciences, so students can learn about the topic and then share their knowledge and service with the community. 

Community Service Learning Center 

Page last modified July 8, 2019