It can be a challenge to be eco-friendly in college. You have a jam packed schedule, tons of studying and homework, and probably want to enjoy some social time as well. Fortunately, being eco-friendly often doesn’t take much effort or money. In fact, in many ways, it saves you money! Can’t beat that, right? Here are 10 simple ways to be an environmentally friendly college student.
Buy used textbooks
The cost of college textbooks is a serious challenge for many students who may have difficulty affording them, but there’s an environmental benefit to purchasing used books. Used items help reduce your carbon footprint and, if they’re still in good condition, your textbooks can often be sold back to school libraries or online.
Know what supplies you actually need
Keeping a good inventory of your school supplies will help you save money and the environment by reducing the amount of superfluous supplies purchased. Choosing sturdy, well-made supplies will help them last longer too, which is ultimately better for the environment.
Avoid single-use plastics
Some college campus cafeterias have done a great job of phasing out single-use plastics, but many do still offer plastic straws and cutlery. If your campus is one that does so, bring your own reusable cutlery instead of using their plastic cutlery. Doing so will help you reduce the waste footprint not just of yourself but your campus too!
Live close to campus
It’s pretty common to start off your first year or two at college living on campus in the dorms, but older students often find themselves being given the option of living off campus. That can definitely be an enticing option, but if you do move off campus, try to stick someplace close to your college. Doing so will make walking or biking to school much easier, thus reducing your need for a car while you’re finishing up your education.
Take electronic notes
The most eco-friendly way to take notes is probably debatable. Paper can be recycled, but it does require trees being cut down to make it and paper can only be recycled so many times before it begins to break down. Taking electronic notes requires devices like lap tops and tablets, which also have a considerable carbon footprint. If opting to work electronically instead of on paper, always look for devices that perform well long-term and use them for as long as you possibly can. When your electronic devices are no longer usable, e-waste recycling is a good option for disposal.
Take advantage of recycling
Most college campuses have become keenly aware of the issue of waste, not just from an environmental standpoint, but a cost-benefit one as well. Many universities now make recycling available by default, and some even have composting receptacles available as well. Take advantage of these services. If they aren’t available, organize with your fellow students and lobby for them.
Shop second hand
Back to school shopping can definitely be expensive, but many school supplies, like notebooks and clothing, can be found in second hand shops. Shopping second hand is better for the environment and often provides opportunities for underserved members of your community.
Keep a reusable bottle
It may come as a surprise, but college campuses are well known to actually consume more single-use plastic water bottles than other, similar organizations. Some campuses, like Vassar College and the University of Las Vegas at Nevada, have begun the process of banning plastic water bottles. If yours hasn’t quite reached that point, you can get started on reducing single-use plastic waste by carrying a reusable bottle with you everywhere you go! And it probably wouldn’t hurt to tell university staff that you’d like to see a bottle ban too.
Join a campus club
There’s a lot you can do as a single student to making your campus a greener place, but joining an environmental club on your campus can help you take your efforts to the next level. If there is no campus environmental club, talk to some of your fellow students about organizing one!
Lobby for green campus efforts
Ultimately, colleges will listen to what their students have to say, especially when they’ve gotten organized with other like-minded students. Work with your peers and with members of the faculty to propose new efforts to make your college campus a more environmentally friendly place! The little things you do in your own life are important, but creating lasting change is key!