Sustainable living as a student

This article was written for my JRN 472 class in January 2011.

Driving around Lansing in January with no heat may seem like an inconvenience. But to MSU student Tabitha Skervin, it is a small part of a larger mission.

Skervin, a junior majoring in international relations, is striving to live a sustainable lifestyle while being a college student, which, in a world of takeout and on-the-go living, is no easy task. Things that seem simple and harmless to the average MSU student are taboo to her. Instead of driving to McDonald’s to get a hamburger, Skervin is more likely to be found in her kitchen cooking a locally grown vegetarian meal.

Products and food coming into Skervin’s apartment are thought about from manufacturing to disposal. Chemical amounts are as limited as possible and local and organic are king. Once used up, recyclable waste is sorted out and food excess is tossed into a worm bin. This process is especially important for beauty products.

“For various reasons, I have come to believe that all the chemicals we put in our shampoos, styling products, toothpaste, etc. are just cheap imitations of what nature has already provided for us. For example, there is no need to use toothpaste with petroleum in it. My family is Jamaican-land of the sugar canes. Even though the children of poor families may not be able to afford dental care, their teeth are still healthy because of the natural process of chewing on sugar canes,” said Skervin.

But, even a dedicated environmentalist like Skervin has her weak spots. For her, the biggest temptation is driving.

“I can be pretty lazy sometimes and, if my car is just around the corner, there’s a good chance I’m going to drive it,” said Skervin. Reaching for a can of Raid for comfort when an insect comes around is another vice she says she has found it hard to give up.

Skervin’s eco-conscious living has been met with mixed results by her roommate, MSU junior Sneha Abraham. Abraham appreciates what Skervin is doing and her dedication to her cause, but sometimes it is hard to go without certain things.

“I wish we had paper towels. It’s annoying using towels and washing them to wipe things. I also wish we had plastic bags for food, but we use Tupperware,” said Abraham. But, she does enjoy having low electricity bills.

For Skervin, sustainable living is more than just conserving resources in her home. As an active member of MSU Greenpeace, she campaigns for clean energy and for staff to make decisions with the planet in mind.

“To live sustainably is to do your part to fight for a future where we have something to ‘go green’ for’,” said Skervin. “Join a movement, sign a petition, go to a rally or a protest-tell your congressman, administration, or university that you want them to change; that’s how we as students can start truly living sustainably.”

MSU Greenpeace is currently focusing on transitioning from coal to a cleaner form of energy. To learn more about the group visit MSU Greenpeace on Facebook or send an e-mail to


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