Although most students tend to be preoccupied with their studies, many also develop a social awareness during their time on campus, becoming involved in any number of clubs and movements that pertain to social issues. Like many students, you may become concerned about the state of our planet, or more to the point, the ways in which we are steadily destroying the environment through pollution, mining, habitat loss, and so on. You might feel impotent to make a change on a grand scale, but you can take personal responsibility by changing your lifestyle and finding ways to go green. Here are a few cheap and easy options every college student can get behind.
When it comes to easy ways to go green while you’re on campus, you’ve probably heard this one from your parents a million times: Turn off the lights when you leave a room. In fact, turn off everything that’s using electricity. Even better, unplug anything that isn’t charging to stop the phantom drain. If every student on campus performed this simple task, imagine how much energy could be saved.
2. Get Thrifty
Cash-strapped college students are often aware of their budgetary restraints and act accordingly. However, you might be interested in getting more from every dollar, especially if it does something good for the environment. You might be surprised by what you can find in thrift stores. Not only can you get wardrobe items like clothing, shoes, and accessories, but at some stores, you’ll also find furniture and housewares on the cheap. Don’t forget yard sales and even Craigslist if you’re looking for something specific. There’s no need to pay full price and promote the manufacturing of new goods when old can be as good as new and save you some dough in the process.
3. Cut Water Waste
Getting students to cut back on chores isn’t a hard sell, and by taking a conservative stance when it comes to washing your wardrobe, you’ll save time, money, and water. Wait until you have a full load or split loads with your roommates/friends, and think about wearing items like jeans, skirts, or jackets more than once before washing. As for bathroom time, get on board with a 5-minute shower. You’ll be glad you did when you’re running late for class.
It’s hard to make your own food in college – you might have only a microwave, a toaster oven, and a mini-fridge to work with. However, making your own meals is going to save you in a variety of ways. For one thing, it’s better for your health than scarfing burgers in the cafeteria or hitting up the vending machine. It’s also cheaper since you can buy in bulk (to an extent – a whole box of cereal and carton of milk versus single servings in the cafeteria). In addition, you have the option to purchase locally-grown, organic, and free-range foods that do less harm to you and to the environment.
5. Embrace the Three R’s
“Reduce, reuse, and recycle” has become the mantra of eco-friendly activists across the globe. Whether you’re earning a degree in law or going for GW’s masters in public relations, you can use your smarts to find ways to embrace the three R’s in your life. Reducing waste could mean going paperless as much as possible or finding ways to stop using disposable items. Reusing might be as simple as getting a refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottled water. These days we all know how to recycle, but you can also try upcycling, or finding new uses for items you no longer need (like turning old tees into a cute new skirt or braided rugs – there are tons of ideas online). In most cases, the three R’s will also save you money, so adopting an eco-friendly attitude is good for the planet and your wallet.