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5 Ways for College Students to Lessen Their Environmental Impact

Five Ways Every College Student Can Go Green

  • Use Cloth
  • Walk, Run, Cycle
  • Buy Local
  • Just Thrift It
  • Exercise Scrutiny at the Shops

The college experience is unique for each individual. However, pursuing higher education doesn’t mean abandoning a commitment to environmentally friendly practices. There are simple ways everyone can pitch in to preserve the earth while also having a great time, cramming for tests, and making new friends. Ecologically responsible behaviors are also often cost-effective, too, which is fantastic news for young adults managing their budgets for the first time. The article below covers five great ways to get into the habit of environmentally sound behaviors for every college student.

You may also like: 50 Great Affordable Eco-Friendly Colleges

1. Use Cloth

Whether living in a dorm suite or rooming off-campus, this is a perfect way to cut paper usage and also ensure that laundry loads are efficiently full. A hand towel in the bathroom and one in the kitchen can help reduce paper waste. Dishcloths and drying towels are a great way to keep the counter clean. Another way to replace materials unfriendly to the environment is to invest in a couple of cloth shopping bags. Keep these handy for any weekly grocery run or impromptu picnic shopping, and you can skip the non-recyclable plastic at the checkout.

2. Walk, Run, Cycle

Having a car when going off to college can come in handy, especially if students like to take road trips or travel home for holidays. However, college towns are geared to make getting around easy. Many universities are planned as communities, with grocery stores, retail outlets, and restaurants clustered within walking distance. Established college campuses and the surrounding towns are also often modeled to accommodate cyclists and ensure the safe usage of bicycles. Using this to one’s advantage can help the environment, save money at the gas pump, and improve personal health. By walking or cycling for local trips, students reduce their carbon footprint substantially.

3. Buy Local

Remember those cloth grocery bags mentioned in tip one and the healthy practice of walking or cycling to get around town? This is where those two ideas come together. While the national hunger for organic produce and responsibly crafted products isn’t a new idea, many are only now learning about the hidden environmental costs of feeding this trend. Organic baby greens might be better for gut health, but the 3,000 miles they traveled by truck to end up in the local grocery store isn’t doing the environment any favors. During the growing season, many small farms offer their produce for sale. College towns can be an excellent draw for these farmers, and several markets may open once the weather grows warm.

4. Just Thrift It

Another way to keep consumption local is “thrifting.” While sometimes it can be great to own a new product or piece of clothing, thrift shops and flea markets offer a great selection of furnishing, cooking and bath items, décor, and gently used clothing that is already on site and often less expensive than a retail outlet. Clothing and furniture are reservoirs of hidden environmental costs. Most clothing is manufactured in countries thousands of miles away and may incorporate less than eco-friendly practices. While there’s no undoing the initial manufacture and shipping, each individual can make a difference by purchasing second-hand clothing or furnishings. In this way, large manufacturers aren’t rewarded for less-than-friendly business practices, and each purchase supports the local economy.

5. Exercise Scrutiny at the Shops

According to U.S. News and World Report, being an informed consumer is one of the best ways for college students to practice an earth-friendly ethos. This means peering beyond the buzzwords and bright colors of the label and selecting products made with recycled materials, crafted locally or sourced ethically. It also entails selecting products that last longer, such as compact fluorescent light bulbs or refillable ink pens. When it comes to electronics, not all computers and printers are created with equally eco-friendly practices. Luckily, resources such as Energy Star and the Electronic Product Environment Assessment Tool help consumers to select products in keeping with their commitment to the environment.

College presents each individual with a suite of challenges, from developing study habits and managing time to following a budget and building positive consumer habits. The great news is that it isn’t difficult to incorporate an earth-friendly ethos in how one meets these challenges. There are a number of ways for college students to lessen their environmental impact, many of which save money, bolster good health, and support positive adult habits.