A Gainesville Guide to Going Green
Whether you’re wandering through the lush, green wilderness of Loblolly Woods or taking a plunge into the crystal blue waters of Ginnie Springs, it’s easy to take Gainesville’s natural beauty for granted. It seems to always be there, ready to bring you into it’s wild embrace.
But if you take a step back and look at our earth’s larger environmental health, not everything is sunshine and daisies. From global climate change to devastated ecosystems right next door, each one of us need to do our part to preserve our planet for generations to come.
Luckily, going “green” in Gainesville is a lot easier than you might think.
Don’t be trashy.
Gone4Ever Recycling, located at 3303 NW 83 St., is a place where you can not only recycle ordinary items like paper, plastic, and cardboard, but electronics too. They are a division of The Arc Alachua, which is a nonprofit organization who supports those with developmental disabilities.
Not to mention, every U.S. Best Buy, included ours on Archer Road, has recycling kiosks inside the front doors where you can drop off batteries, wires, cords, and cables. The Customer Service counter also accepts most electronics.
Lightbulbs & Batteries
Disposing lightbulbs and batteries in landfill waste can be dangerous, so be sure to drop off special items at Home Depot or Lowe’s. The recycling center at the Gainesville Lowe’s provides an easy way to recycle rechargeable batteries, cell phones, plastic bags and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
If you are near Archer Road, Batteries Plus Bulbs offers battery and lightbulb recycling services. The type of batteries they recycle include car, camera, cell phone, and laptop batteries, and they accept various types of lightbulbs, including UV lamps.
For those who want to dispose of hair straighteners and curling irons that no longer work (or maybe you’ve finally decided to love your natural hair texture?), donate them to facilities that can use them for scrap metal. Trademarks Metal Recycling, which is the largest full service scrap-metal recycler in Florida, will accept and pay cash for all types of nonferrous (aluminum, copper, brass and wire) and ferrous metal at their recycling facilities located at 817 NE Waldo Rd.
UF is notoriously known for limited parking spaces, so why not save yourself the hassle and money (which will inevitably be spent on parking violations) and bike to class? If you’re not ready to purchase a bike of your own, you can check out the Gator Gears bike rental program for a no-fuss way to get on two wheels.
Other non-motorized modes of transportation include, but are not limited to: skateboarding, longboarding, rollerblading or unicycling. (Yes, we have really seen it on campus.) Or for you ‘90s kids: why not bring the ole’ Razor Scooter back?
Hitch a ride with the UF Campus Cab, Gotcha Ride or SNAP. UF Campus Cab offers point-to-point transportation with a reservation at least an hour in advance, Gotcha Ride provides free rides for students and faculty in a 100 percent battery powered vehicle and SNAP offers late night escorts on their trusty van.
Long ago, I heard this ancient proverb about not buying textbooks at the bookstore and it turned out to be 100 percent true. New textbooks are extremely overpriced, and it makes no sense to buy something you may hardly use. Borrowing and renting textbooks is a surefire way to be sustainable for the planet and your wallet. Purchase used books from the UF Textbook Exchange group, Chegg and Amazon, or find an electronic copy! Second-hand novels, records, and textbooks can also be found for cheap at the Friends of the Library Book Sale.
Admittedly, I am guilty of buying bottled water on occasion, but in a region where we are privileged enough to have clean tap water, we need to do our part and actually use it. According to The Water Project, plastic water bottles account for 2 million tons of waste in landfills. Reusable water bottles are your friends; they can be refilled at the many filtered water fountains all over campus. You can also save money and reduce waste if you bring your own travel mugs and tumblers to Starbucks!
Repurposing used items brings new life into something that would otherwise be thrown into a landfill. For instance, take Satchel’s upcycled scrap-metal art as a prime example, or their seating made from a vintage van! Repurposing can make for a Pinterest-worthy DIY project or serve as a creative solution for many of household needs. To get yourself started, pay a visit to The Repurpose Project, a store here in Gainesville that salvages items that aren’t accepted by other second-hand stores. Their mission is to divert useful resources from the landfill so that we may use them for art, education, and creativity. You can also purchase eclectic recycled items is Flashbacks Recycled Fashions and Furniture, a funky consignment shop that has been serving Gainesville since the ‘80s.
Instead of buying new clothes, check out Gainesville’s awesome circuit of thrift stores here.
It’s no secret that the meat industry is a massive contributor of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. It’s also no secret that telling people to make dietary changes is often a very sensitive subject. Our food choices are tied to our culture and traditions, so it’s not easy to abandon habits we’ve had our whole lives. Instead of committing to full scale vegetarianism or veganism, start small. Figure out how many days per week you eat meat and commit to going meatless just one or two days. Gainesville is home to a ton of incredible vegetarian food, so you certainly won’t go hungry. You’ll be scarfing down tempeh sloppy joes before you know it.
We often become too inundated with all that technology has to offer that we forget to look outside. Challenge yourself to unplug from technology at least an hour a week. In doing so, you not only conserve energy, but also become more in tune with nature, yourself and your health. Gainesville is a prime location for this! Go for a hike through Paynes Prairie or meander through the Kanahapa Botanical Gardens. Gainesville has a lot to offer for outdoor recreation, so take advantage. You can use this guide to help you get started.
Every choice we make can leave lasting impression, even the small ones, like buying a used book or recycling the batteries from your TI-89. We’re lucky to live in a city that makes it easy and enjoyable to adopt a more eco-friendly lifestyle. So, Gainesville, go green for yourself, the Earth and all the future baby Gators out there.