Student Sustainability During the COVID-19 Pandemic
After months of being transitioned into remote learning environments, students across the nation are home more than ever. Fortunately, this is great for the environment as college campuses are no longer producing large amounts of waste on a daily basis.
UC Davis plans to keep all classes remote for Fall 2020 with the exception of classes with students of 50 or fewer. These smaller classes will meet in person only if it is deemed important pedagogically. The instructor on record along with the department chairs, deans, followed by a committee review, will determine if in-person classes are pedagogically important. Many professors have also made their class materials electronic, such as textbooks, which immensely decreases the amount of paper being used by students.
In addition to de-densifying classrooms, UC Davis plans to de-densify campus living spaces and study spaces such as Shields Library, Memorial Union, and the Activities and Recreational Center (ARC). These spaces will be de-densified so that students are able to follow social distancing measures.
Student sustainability during the pandemic
With students being at home more often, they are likely to use more energy to power the different devices needed to complete school work and work assignments. It is important for students to find ways to be sustainable in this new state of normalcy. With on-campus housing only being guaranteed for their first year, the majority UC Davis students live in apartments where they don’t have much control over their apartment’s insulation or waste collection services.
There are many ways that students can be sustainable while working, social distancing, and
staying at home.
“I make sure that I only turn on the air conditioner during the hottest times of the day. When it is on, I have the temperature set to 78 degrees because it makes my apartment cool enough without having it on for so long,” says UC Davis Senior Juan Talamantes. With the sunny days in Davis, a 98 degree day is not out of the ordinary. Turning on the air conditioner only during the hottest times of the day is both cost effective and beneficial to the environment. It is easy to take advantage of the cool air at night by keeping the windows open to let the breeze in.
“When it comes to eating, I fell into a bad habit of ordering food four times in one week. I saw how much trash accumulated so I began to meal prep for the week and it makes everything so much easier,” Juan says.
Being at home can make it easy to just order take out food but that will result in the
accumulation of plastic waste. It’s great to support local restaurants but meal prepping every
week is affordable and easy as your meals are prepared for the whole week. Meal prepping will
also help reduce the amount of non-recyclable and non-compostable waste you produce.
Traveling during the pandemic
A lot of students do not own a car that they can use to just go shopping for groceries. Biking to
the store is great but only allows someone to carry a certain amount of groceries back home with
them. One way to solve this problem is by carpooling with housemates.
Another way to solve this problem is by buying items in bulk so that fewer trips to the grocery
store are needed. Buying items in bulk also reduces the amount of plastic wrapping and
containers being purchased that hold the products.
Riding the bus is an easy way to get to the grocery store but that will result in encounters with
other people. If riding the bus is your choice, make sure to wear a face covering at all times and
only purchase an amount of groceries that can be held on your lap. Carrying a travel size pack of
disinfecting wipes is always great to ensure that you clean anything that you touch or sit on. The
Unitrans bus service stated that they have the air ventilation system on and windows open the
entire time of service. In addition to that, they ensure that drivers sanitize the interior of the buses twice daily.
Read the UC Davis Campus Ready Plan
Anthony Montes is a fourth year UC Davis student finishing his degree in Community and Regional Development this summer. As an intern with Cool Davis, he has worked on data collection from past outreach events and written a couple of articles for the Cool Davis newsletter. Athony hopes to use his experience interning to educate his home community on how to implement sustainable practices in their everyday lives.