30 Tips to Be an Eco-Friendly College Student (And Save Money in the Process!)
- When it’s time to buy school supplies, opt for eco-friendly school supplies whenever possible. Staple-free stapler, paper tape instead of plastic, a high quality backpack that will last, recycled paper notebooks, you get the idea!
- Buy food and snacks in bulk. This will reduce packaging, save you trips to the store and save you money.
- Do textbooks right. Rent or buy used textbooks whenever possible. Choosing used textbooks is not only more affordable, but also means that the textbook will be reused for another year.
- Cover your textbooks to keep them nice. This will keep the resale value up as well and keep them in good shape for future students.
- Don’t buy bottled water. Instead, invest in a water pitcher with a filter and a reusable water bottle
- Keep plants in your dorm room. Studies have shown that plants are a natural air purifier and mood booster.
7. Adjust the energy settings on your computer. Keep your screen saver dark, close your laptop when you leave the room, and turn your computer off when you’re not using it for a long period of time (wait, is that a thing in college?)
8. Opt for CFL bulbs rather than traditional ones. They last longer, are more energy efficient, and you’ll buy them less frequently
Be Body Healthy and Eco-Friendly
9. Take the stairs rather than the elevator in public buildings and dorms. Not only will you save energy, but help to avoid the “freshman 15” at the same time!10. Set your phone to airplane mode when you’re not using it. Driving? Walking to class? Actually trying to pay attention in class? (Good for you girl!) Airplane mode saves battery meaning less hunting for an outlet for a mid-day charging session.
11. Commute using public transportation or walking whenever possible. One vehicle carrying many people is much better for the environment than everyone taking their own car. Many campuses have excellent public transportation options for students. If you live on campus and can walk to your classes, even better! Choose walking for the healthiest form of transportation. Plus, you’ll feel energized and alert when you get to class!
12. Plug your electronics like your cell phone charger, laptop, printer, etc. into a power strip and then flip the switch off whenever you leave the room.
13. If you have the option, turn assignments in online, rather than turning in hard copy. You’ll save paper, printer ink, and it’s one less thing you have to stress about bringing to class. Phew!
14.If you wear makeup and use disposable makeup wipes, switch to a reusable face cloth and makeup remover. Or, opt for biodegradable natural makeup wipes like these!
Eco-Friendly College Laundry Tips:
15. Hang dry your clothes in your dorm room. You’ll save money and energy!
16. Do a sniff test. Laundry in college is probably the last thing on your mind until you realize you’re out of clothes. Make sure to do a sniff test. Does that hoodie you wore for less than an hour really need to be washed? Can that drop of food on your sleeve be cleaned off easily with a towel and water in the sink? You’ll save yourself money and laundry-lugging trips to the laundromat. More fun less laundry!
17. Switch to Soap Nuts. Don’t carry around heavy liquid detergent or wasteful laundry pods. Soap nuts are lightweight and eco-friendly. You can also save money and reduce chemicals from dryer sheets by choosing wool dryer balls instead.
18. Keep all of your dirty laundry in one place. Don’t toss clothes around your room. Keep a single bag under your bed or in your closet. This will save you time and confusion about what is really clean and what is dirty – plus keep you from that overwhelmed feeling of how messy your room is!
Do note that many of these tips can be taken with you long after graduation!
19. Take awesome care of the items you do own. Don’t leave your headphones on the floor and run over them with your rolling desk chair. (Can you tell I’m speaking from experience?) Don’t wear brand new light colors pants walking to class on a rainy, muddy, day ::cries:: Treat all of your belongings like priceless treasures. Appreciate them. You’ll feel more fulfilled and you’ll have them for much longer.
20. Keep reusable utensils in your backpack. Include at least a fork, spoon, cloth napkin.This way if you grab food while our and about you won’t need to take plastic cutlery
21. Always carry a reusable take-out container in your bag. Restaurant meals are typically much larger than the recommended serving size. If you go out to eat, eat half of your meal and bring the other half home for tomorrow. Not only will you save a disposable container from hitting the trash, you’ll stretch your dollar by getting two meals out of one. Rebel tip: these containers can work in the dining hall too ::wink::
22. Get creative: Do not not NOT get hung up on “needing” overpriced dorm decor. My college had a giant poster “sale” every fall right after school started and every freshmen ended up with one of the 10 cliche college posters that everyone else had. (I guarantee you can think of at least one.) Create your own decor, a vision board goes a long way for inspiration. Also keep in mind that usually simple, minimalist decor is better for focus and less stress
23. Go paperless: with your address likely changing yearly in college, make it easier on yourself with paperless billing. Everything going to your e-mail inbox not only keeps things simple, but some companies actually offer you a discount if you enroll in paperless billing.
You can also cut down paper by using a wipe away dry erase board for studying, rather than flash cards
24. B.Y.O.B.C. Beverage container that is! Express yourself at parties in the land of the quintessential red Solo cup. Bringing your own beverage container to a party not only does the earth a favor, is a conversation starter, (“hey cute cup!”) but also keeps your drink safe and not in the wrong hands.
25. Make cleaning a breeze. Who has room for 100 different cleaners in their dorm or apartment? Keep it simple and opt for a single eco-friendly multi-purpose cleaner.
26. Keep it fresh! Air fresheners are a must when you have hundreds of students crammed into a dorm building. Skip the aerosol cans and chemical-filled air fresheners and opt for potpouri, or an essential oil diffuser. Switch up the essential oils for a natural variety of smells and health benefits.
Eco-Friendly College Tips for the Dining Hall
27. Go tray-free in the dining hall. Taking a tray every single time means an extra item that needs to be washed and sanitized in hot hot water every single time. Skip the tray, take only one cup, and fill your plate to the brim.
28. Be mindful of food waste. So you got the unlimited meal plan and the dining hall is your all-you-can-eat buffet. Keep in mind though that food waste is still waste, and that the gross pizza you tried last week and took only a bite of before tossing is probably going to be gross again this week. Sure, food decomposes easier than say a plastic cup, but someone needed to use water and energy to grow the food, harvest the food, transport the food, wash dishes used when preparing the food, use energy to cook the food, etc. Taking just what you will eat will help to decrease the tons and tons of food thrown away by college students each year.
29. Meatless Mondays! The meat industry produces a significant portion of greenhouse gases. By cutting out meat one day a week you’ll help reduces those gasses as well as your risk of heart disease and certain cancers
30. Remember your 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse Recycle! Always keep them on your mind and eco-conscious decisions will soon be second nature to you ecogirl!