'Going Green' Starts Here: One Student's Quest for Sustainable Living

Editor's Note: University of Michigan student is attempting to cut his carbon footprint in half and blogging about his experiences.  Thanks to an arrangement with UWire.com, FoxNews.com is carrying his postings.  Here is his first entry.

It's everywhere you look -- green jobs, green energy, green infrastructure, green technology, green policy.

An influential force in American life since the 1960s, the environmental movement has grown exponentially in the past few years, with catchwords like "organic" and "sustainable" and "green" entering our daily lives more than ever before.

Accompanying the green movement is a major push to change the way we live -- from a buy-buy-buy, consumer-driven lifestyle to one that's more environmentally friendly and ecologically sustainable.

The green movement is becoming more inclusive. It's not just the stereotypical tree-hugging, hemp-wearing, green thumb types, but savvy urbanites and rural farmers and everyone in between with a concern for the environment and our stewardship of it.

Integral to the movement are college students, the politically, socially and environmentally active young generation. In the move toward a more environmentally sustainable future, college students are a crucial part of the equation, as eco-friendly habits begun now will last long into the future.

The college life, however, is far from normal, and presents a few more hurdles on the way to sustainability. Whether crammed into the dorms, squeezed into a small apartment or sharing an old house with six roommates, the big question -- How do I start living green? -- gets a bit trickier as a college student.

For instance, what ways can I reduce my carbon footprint that are easy and effective? And, given the tight budget of the average college student, what are the cheapest ways to do it?

Over the next month, I'm setting out to answer these questions -- and many more -- here on "Going Green: Cutting Environmental Impact on Campus," a special UWIRE project in which, for the month of March, I will try to live as sustainably as possible and do as much as I can to decrease my personal impact on the environment.

I'll be blogging about individual changes I've made to my daily routines and habits, like swapping the grocery store for the local farmer's market or starting a compost pile in my backyard.

With the help of Kaitlin Urka, a reporter for Palestra.net, I'll be posting a couple of videos each week on my attempts go green.

And I'll also be posting longer stories that tackle big-picture issues like the growing use of alternative energies on college campuses and the brave new battery-powered future of the Big Three automakers in Detroit.

My starting point for "Going Green" is my own carbon footprint -- about 35 tons of CO2 equivalent per year -- calculated using The Nature Conservancy's Carbon Footprint Calculator. (I highly recommend anyone interested in their environmental impact to do so -- it's an eye-opening experience.)

According to The Nature Conservancy, I have a rather sizeable carbon footprint: It's above the U.S. average of 27 tons of CO2 per person per year and well above the worldwide average of 5.5 CO2 per person per year. Which means I've got my work cut out for me.

After talking with Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Prof. Catherine Badgley, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where I'm a senior, together we decided that my ultimate goal for the "Going Green" project should be to cut my carbon footprint in half by the end of March.

And in doing so, I hope to demonstrate to other college students how they too can decrease their carbon footprint in easy, affordable ways. Imagine if all 19 million or so college students in the U.S. decided to cut their carbon footprint in half.

So for the next month, check back for my latest stories, photos, videos and blog entries writing here at "Going Green." I'll also offer up some tips and how-tos for readers who want to go green.

Got a suggestion or comment, question or qualm? An idea for a blog topic or video post?

Don't hesitate to leave a comment on any of the posts here, or if you'd like, you can e-mail me at akroll@umich.edu.