Being a ‘Green Student’

As I’m sure you all know, this week has been ‘Go Green Week’, in aid of raising awareness of issues related to environment and climate change. Today’s post is on being a ‘green student’ and what I do to be environmentally-friendly.

To be honest, I rarely think about how my studying-related activities impact the environment. I usually only consider the utility of the resource (e.g. books or modes of transport) and don’t stop to think how eco it is. However, upon reflecting on the issue this week, I realised its importance and resolved to make more of an effort to factor the impact on the environment into my decisions about whether to use certain resources.

I think the crux of being a ‘green student’ is replacing physical resources with online resources. In the case of eBooks replacing physical textbooks, they save an enormous amount of paper, transportation and storage. When weighing up whether to buy an eBook or a physical copy, usually I would only consider its convenience of use, for example its portability, ease of note-taking (you can copy and paste text on an eBook) and highlighting (done with a mere click on an eBook), and for these reasons I tend towards buying eBooks anyway. Before this week, I hadn’t really considered the impact my textbook-buying choices had on the environment.

However, even after resolving to make more of an effort to be more environmentally friendly, I still wouldn’t rank it as more important than the utility and quality of the resource. For example, if there were two versions of the same physical textbook on sale, one made from recycled paper and one not, the first thing I’d consider was whether there was a difference in quality. Assuming there was no difference in price, I’d probably go for the higher quality one, whichever that was, because for something as expensive as a textbook, quality would be my highest priority. In addition, I would be confident that the textbook would be reused, as I would aim to sell it on to a fellow student after I was done with it.

I have similar answers to other studying-related issues. I usually choose the digital option because it’s more functional; the fact that it’s more environmentally-friendly is merely a happy coincidence. I choose to take notes digitally because I find it easier to edit and add to them, and I like the neatness and simplicity of a paperless note taking. Environmental impact was not a factor in this decision, and although I recognise its importance, it still wouldn’t rank as highly as the aforementioned factors.