Sustainable Students: 10 Ways to Be Green on Campus

As a college student—especially in 2020—life can feel chaotic and cluttered, so we’ll keep this simple. Small changes in your day-to-day life not only can shrink your ecological footprint, but they can also make your daily routine more stylish, healthy, and vibrant. Here are 10 tips and changes that can help any student be more environmentally friendly this semester.


1. Carpool is king.

This one is textbook but so important! Taking public transportation, using a rideshare app,  or carpooling with friends to classes and off-campus excursions lessens the carbon emissions emitted into the atmosphere. So mask up and carpool with friends to save money and the environment.


2. BYOB: Bring Your Own Bike.

Sometimes your destination isn’t within walking distance, and you might not have access to a car on campus if you’re an underclassman. Bring your bike to school to save money on Ubers and reduce your carbon footprint. Added bonus: You’ll also get some exercise while you’re at it, so you can knock your daily workout off your already busy to-do list.


3. Turn off all the lights when you leave your apartment or dorm.

Even though most students living in a dorm aren’t required to pay a monthly electricity fee, doesn’t mean you can leave the lights on for free. Leaving your lights and other electronics on when you aren’t in the room still burns through natural resources, so it’s essential to conserve energy whether you’re living on campus or off. Always remember to unplug your devices or use power-efficient adapters.


4. Carry reusable water bottle and dish ware.

In college, it can be hard to get to a kitchen to whip up your own recipes. Splurging on takeout or grabbing dinner to-go from the dining hall results in more waste than you might realize. Styrofoam cups, carryout boxes, and plastic utensils and straws pile up. Consider bringing your own containers and reusable bottles and straws when you’re taking food to-go. Keep a container or two on hand in your car or backpack so you’re always prepared.


5. Swap plastic bags for reusable ones.

Bring your own bags when you’re grabbing a snack from a campus store, making your weekly grocery run, or shopping with friends. This significantly reduces the amount of waste acquired when shopping and fits much more than a regular grocery bag. Keep a few in your car for easy access!


6. Blue bins are your best friend.

When you can—recycle! Be cognizant when throwing away all of your old aluminum cans, paper, and glass items. Make sure to put all recyclable items in a designated recycle bin and avoid throwing them in the trash can. In 2014, landfills produced 163 million tons of carbon into our atmosphere. The less waste that sits in our landfills, the less carbon is omitted into the atmosphere! It’s a win-win.


7. Donate, Don’t Discard.

A lot of items tend to be thrown away when you’re moving out of your dorm. Instead of trashing your old clothes, be proactive and donate the items you no longer use. Better yet, plan a clothing swap with friends and roommates. You’ll end up with new-to-you items and keep textiles out of landfills.


8. Swap new for reused.

From honors society dinners to themed mixers, there’s no limit to the number of events you’ll want a new outfit for as a college student. Instead of buying brand new clothes, go to a local thrift store and find pre-loved pieces at a fraction of the cost of new items. Take a break from shopping fast-fashion pieces. Secondhand clothing is as sustainable as it gets.


9. Join a sustainability club.

Get involved!  Learn more about the environment and the importance of sustainability by joining an on-campus club. Campuses across the country have student organizations that focus on expanding environmental education, volunteering to clean up local green spaces, and even innovating new eco-friendly technology. You’ll meet new people within your community and expand your knowledge on ways to care for the planet.


10. Advocate.

Whether it’s with your student organization or with friends, one of the most meaningful things you can do for the planet is foster awareness surrounding environmental issues. On campus, participate in marches, organize seminars, and encourage your school’s administration to explore new ways your university can make strides toward sustainability. You have the power to spark change on your campus—use it!


What are your favorite ways to practice sustainability as a student? Show us on social and tag!

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