How to be sustainable at the VU?

The Green Office is the sustainability platform at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam that aims to make a sustainable impact for the VU community. It consists of 5 coordinators and many volunteers. The Green Office constantly organizes events and communicates with higher instances to make the University more sustainable. It educates students and teachers regarding environmental practices. In this week’s blog, we will review its collaborations and provide you with tips on how to be sustainable at university.

Be sustainable at the VU

Most of us already know the environmental problems that the world has to deal with currently. The actions we undertake: traveling, eating mangos from South America, charging our electronic devices for hours every day, might be controversial to our values. However, there are some ways to make a change. And it begins with small daily actions.

  1. First of all, bring your own coffee cup. We are students, we lack sleep and need caffeine all the time. But wasting 3 cups a day for coffee at uni isn’t ideal. Bring your own instead, and refill it as many times you want. Plus, you can get a discount on your coffee at the coffee corner in the main hall if you bring your own cup. Same goes for water bottles. The VU provides you with many water fountains: you can find it at Spar and in the main hall. The water is good and it is budget friendly!
  2. Secondly, use the recycling bins. On every floor, you can find three different bins for plastic, waste and carton. Think about recycling also at the cafeteria!
  3. Thirdly, be aware of what products you use. Try to reduce the use of plastic, especially at Spar: plastic bags for bred, plastic cutlery, the lids for coffee cups. This is all small stuff that you could easily get rid off or replace with more sustainable alternatives.
  4. Lastly, every week you can buy through the Green Office a box of fruits and vegetable from a local farm. The box is made without any unnecessary wrapping, and is guaranteed local to reduce your ecological impact.

Green Office

Recently, the Green Office did a collaboration with a section of the WWF. The latter created an algorithm that measures your environmental footprint. The only thing you have to do is answer some questions about your daily habits and it gives your results after a few minutes, along with some tips on how to improve it. You can do it here.

If your results are worse than expected (like mine) you can still do something about it and donate to the Rainforest Trust. It is one of the best and safest NGO that protects tropical rainforests, and the wildlife that goes with it. You can choose from many areas in the world and fictionally buy rainforest lands. The land that you buy is then protected from deforestation and illegal hunting of endangered species that live there.

Saving forests is very important given their capacity of absorbing high levels of CO2. To give an example, an acre of trees absorbs enough CO2 over one year to equal the amount produced by driving a car 42,000 km.

We hope to have helped you understand how important sustainability is, and how you can also make a change by undertaking small steps daily. Don’t forget to check the Green Office website for future events. On top of being sustainable, the VU is also a place where you can relax. Check this blog to discover places in and around the VU where you can take a break.