As I reflect upon the past week and contemplate how I personally have worked towards minimizing my own impact throughout the week, I realized that I have impressed myself more than I expected in terms of reaching my own goals. I found personal water use to be the most “attainable” goal as it requires complete awareness and once the awareness part occurs, there is little sacrifice that is compromised by working towards the goal. Sure it would have been nice to soak under the piping hot water in excess of 30 minutes, but I definitely was able to avoid this temptation without too much mental or physical “stress.”
During meals throughout the week I noticed my improved proper disposal of assorted waste items, thinking carefully about whether items can be recycled or composted before resorting to the trash. I think what I really learned from this area is to take the extra few seconds before disposing of said goods and evaluate what needs to be done with them. The next best step will be to encourage my friends to do the same. This might be a challenge, because I think a lot of college students don’t like being told what to do.
Energy consumption and use has been an eye-opening one. Before commencing with NI Week, I never truly noticed how electricity I used on a typical day. Cell phone chargers, computer chargers, iPod chargers, over head lights, refrigerators, televisions, and fans, have contributed to a substantial amount of energy use by one college student. I am however, in the process of training and conditioning myself to unplug chargers more frequently even if they are in difficult places to reach. I’m looking forward to next year when energy use display monitors will be constructed in all of the residence halls. It will be important to keep track of whether students’ consumption habits change or remain the same over the course of the semester and the school year.
Overall, I am glad I took the NI week challenge and worked towards achieving my goals and gradually changing “unhealthy” habits. During the busyness of the spring semester, it has been difficult to fully devote myself to the cause, but I think it is a good lesson that as consumers, we need to “take a step back” every so often and really re-evaluate what is most important to us, and how we can maintain and continue to live sustainable and environmentally compatible lives.