Even though April passed, every day is Earth day. The holiday reminds us about the importance of living an environmentally friendly lifestyle and gives us a renewed appreciation for our lovely home. In college, it can feel as though it is difficult to go green, but there exist an abundance of ways you can do your part. You can never start too late.
Both simple and useful, here are 10 way you can be eco-friendly in college:
1. Use an LED Desk light
In college, everyone needs a desk lamp for those late-night study sessions when the libraries and study rooms close. Why not use an eco-friendly one? LED desk lights use less electricity compared to incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, making them energy efficient. Not to mention, they last far longer. An LED’s bulb lasts on average 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb. All in all, a great way to go green as a college student.
2. Recycle and Compost
Trash conscientiousness may seem a tad trickier in college, but if you make it simple, it will be simple. Even if composting seems difficult, dividing landfill and recycling makes a huge difference. Especially if your college provides the different colored bags and multiple cans per dorm room. Rather than tossing everything in the trash willy-nilly, take that extra second to distinguish between trash and recyclables. It requires such little effort, while having a positive impact.
Even if you do not unplug your charger every single time you walk away from your laptop, phone, kindle etc. there exists alternative habits you can build to help the environment. For instance, making a habit of unplugging before you leave for school. Aka, a time when you won’t need to plug in your devices, which can’t really be avoided when you go to bed and have to recharge them for the day to come. Super simple, right? Starting this as a daily habit acts as a great way to go green as a college student.
4. Bring A Coffee Mug if You Get Coffee on Campus
Whether you lend to one, the other or both, everyone needs to hydrate or get caffeinated. To no one’s surprise, in college, the latter typically takes precedence. Either way, the number of plastic bottles or coffee cups adds up super quick. That daily coffee on the way to class soon results in hundreds of cups a year for just one person. Bringing a reusable coffee mug or water bottle can make drastic cuts in plastics.
“I enjoy using a reusable water bottle and a coffee mug because it’s a sturdy, convenient, and eco friendly way to get water or take my coffee to go wherever I need it. It also keeps my drinks more insulated than if I was using a plastic or paper alternative, so I always prefer to use my own cup when I can,” University of San Diego Marine Ecology freshman Evy Melstrand said.
Or simply consider buying a coffee machine for your dorm if the shops on campus won’t take your reusable coffee mug. According to EarthDay.org, using a reusable water bottle means that you can save on average 156 plastic bottles per year. Considering how Americans purchase on average 50 billion water bottles per year, this makes quite the difference. You can even personalize your own mug or cup. It is super simple to make it your own with fun stickers or designs.
5. Walk To Class (if possible)
Running late to class? No problem: take a bird or rent an electric bike and you will arrive right on time. I mean, this form of transportation offers a quick and easy option with minimal cost. Or, even better, just walk. Getting to class in ways that cause minimal emissions remains a great way to practice eco-friendly methods in college. Of course, there will eventually come a time where walking may just not get you to class on time, but for the most part, put on your favorite music and enjoy that time outdoors.
6. Share Ubers
Ever heard of sharing is caring? Well in this case, sharing is caring for the environment. When you share an Uber you limit the amount of carbon emissions it takes to travel. This way of carpooling helps both the environment and your wallet since the cost will get divided. As a college student, when funds get low and you need to get around just share an Uber. It will help both you and the earth.
“I share Ubers mainly it is cost friendly. Also, it’s a safer option than using public transportation or walking especially at night,” UCLA Pre-Public Affair freshman Nya Palmer said.
“Uber sharing is great for college students because most of us don’t have cars, and it’s an efficient way to save money and time by having the share feature on the app,” San Diego City College freshman Mariela Barbosa said.
Safety equates to importance. When going out on the town, whether to grab food, watch a movie or enjoy a party or two, getting back to campus safe and sound equates to: a priority. Luckily, this priority can coincide with going green in college by carpooling with a reliable driver. Uber offers a low cost and a safe way to get around. A perfect solution for any college student who wants to get around.
7. Turn Off the Lights when you leave the room
This may seem like a simple or obvious no brainer. Who doesn’t turn off the lights when leaving a room? Well, it may surprise you. According to ElectronicHouse.com, 90% of Americans said that a member of their household forgets to turn the lights off when they leave a room. Most likely this pattern continues when some house members leave to go live at college. I would leave the hall room light on in my room without thinking much of it, but in actuality such a simple action can reduce carbon emission and other harmful greenhouse gasses.
8. Go Thrifting! (Second Hand Clothes)
As the popular TikTok sounds says, “Get in losers, we’re going shopping.” Who doesn’t love a good shopping spree? More than that, who doesn’t love to go thrifting. The Gen Z popular app recently shined a spotlight on thrifting, making it trendy. It just so happens to also work great for the environment. Looks like a win-win to me.
“I love thrift shopping because one, you never know what you’re gonna find and there are so many interesting pieces that have been thrown away. Two, it’s affordable and environmentally friendly because everything is second hand which means everything that was made in fast fashion sweatshops and then thrown away is put to good use because the fast fashion is so unethical and wasteful and, three, it’s just fun!” ArtCenter College of Design Film and Television Major freshman Tehya Rivette said.
Second hand shopping ultimately acts as a great way to reuse items rather than have them sent straight away to a landfill. It also doesn’t hurt that the clothes tend to get marked down. Cute clothes meet good prices could not be a better combo for the average college student. Let alone for the eco-friendly college student. Now, go get your shop on.
9. Buy a Bamboo Toothbrush
When you go to college get yourself a bamboo toothbrush. Need convincing? Here are two great reasons: one, they bring cleanliness benefits as they are anti-microbial. This means they combat bacterium that causes disease. And two, shocking— bamboo comprises the handle of the brush rather than plastic. Overall, a bamboo toothbrush functions as a superior option for both your teeth and the environment. So, if you want to go green, consider this easy option.
10. Water Usage
Long story short— shorten those showers. As an eco-friendly college student, you can turn off the water while brushing your teeth rather than leave it running. Try shaving off 5 minutes of your shower time. The United States Environmental Safety Agency shared that it should take on average 8 minutes to effectively clean yourself. If you see yourself exceeding this time quite a bit, consider cutting down. Showers alone result in the usage of more than one trillion gallons of water per year only in the United States.