By Haley Chi-Sing

You know what time of year it is it’s Earth Month, gearing up for Earth Day on April 22! So, whip out your “I’m a Tree Hugger” shirt and get ready to save the world, one recyclable water bottle at a time.

However, we’re going to mix things up a bit in this blog post. Reducing waste is the more effective of the three R’s, so here are a couple of tips for how you can reduce your waste at the dining hall. Because let’s be real that’s where we need the most help.

Only serve yourself what you know you’ll eat. There is such a thing as “seconds.”

I think most of us are guilty of this minor non-reducing, anti-Earth-friendly crime. We get over-excited by the fries or the cookies, and we pile more than we can chew onto our plates (literally). But more often than not, we’re too full to either finish or even touch the extras we’ve accrued.

So, what do we do? We just casually put a plate full of food on the conveyor belt and hope to God none of the dining hall staff sees us.

Not only is this somewhat greedy, it is extremely wasteful. Instead of grabbing more food than you know you can eat, try only placing on your plate what you know for sure you’ll eat. If you’re still hungry, you are more than welcome to grab seconds of anything your heart desires.

Only grab one or two napkins instead of the entire pile.

We know eating can get pretty messy pretty quickly. So, what do we do? We grab a handful of napkins, just in case — because that’s what our moms used to do when we were 3 years old. But is that handful of napkins even necessary? Not entirely…

Try only grabbing one or two napkins. Heck, don’t grab any at all unless you actually need one. More likely than not, the clean napkin you have waiting for you on the side just in case will just get dirty in the meantime.

If you’re the type of person who claims they are extremely messy and need ALL the napkins, I’ve got one tip for you behave like a college student and eat properly.

Grab some fruit and store it in your fridge.

For the most part, the dining hall is always stocked with bananas, apples, oranges, etc. To be honest, I think they have too much fruit at times *cough* Warren Dining Hall *cough*. I mean, kudos to them for trying to get us to eat fruit. But I bet less than half of the students actually grab an apple and sit down in the dining hall to eat it.

Take a couple of apples or bananas and store them in your fridge. Not only will you be reducing fruit waste, you’ll always have a sweet, healthy snack ready in your dorm room.

Use reusable containers and grab extra goldfish and cereal.

Instead of risking the waste of perfectly good Cocoa Puffs and Cheerios, take some tupperware or plastic containers with you to the dining hall and fill ‘em up! You can store them in your dorm as extra snacks. Another plus you’ll be saving money instead of buying snacks at City Convenience or Target. You pay for that meal plan, so you might as well make the most out of it.

Try not to use the cardboard plates and cutlery.

While it is very tempting to take your ice cream to-go in the cardboard bowls, just don’t do it. Sit down, watch some Netflix on your phone, and enjoy your ice cream in the dining hall in one of the reusable plastic bowls. If you’re really in a time crunch, throw it in a cone.

While it may not be your preference, just be comforted by the fact that you’ll be saving the Earth by reducing your cardboard waste. Plus, you won’t have to throw it out once you get to your room!

Who knows how many Earth Months we have left on this Earth? Make them count and make them last by doing your part!