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A Student’s Beginner Guide To Sustainable Living

Can’t afford an electric car and your roommates aren’t down with composting? I’ve got your back. Here are some simple tips and tricks I’ve picked up while in college to live more sustainably…even if that’s in a dorm room.

  1. Unplug

Don’t skip this one just because you make sure to turn your lights off every night. Even when your electronic devices are not in use, they can still be using energy. Try to unplug all of your appliances when you are not using them. The planet will thank you and so will your wallet if you pay your own electric bills. A trick that helped me was getting a big power strip with a switch on it. Before bed I simply flip the switch and my air fryer, microwave, and blender can all rest as well. 

2. Get thrifty with it!

The fashion industry contributes to so much of our industrialized pollution, yet its effects have not gained much awareness. Before stopping in an Urban Outfitters or browsing online for clothes, check out your local thrift store! It’s cheaper and you’re much more likely to find original and one of a kind pieces to add to your closet. While you’re thrifting, it’s worth mentioning to not limit yourself to just clothes. School supplies, kitchenware, and room decor are all also great items to thrift. My friends and I picked up most of our furniture from Goodwill for our house–durable and looks great!

3. Do you really need a paper towel?

Next time you spill coffee on the counter and you go to grab a paper towel, stop yourself and see if there’s a rag nearby. If you have no rags, maybe sacrifice that old t-shirt that you never wear. This is such an easy fix, yet it’s something we just don’t tend to think about at the moment–sometimes it’s all about just staying mindful. 

4. Invest in some reusable containers

Reusable containers might just be my favorite thing ever (that is not a joke and I wish it was). They’re environmentally friendly and they keep my refrigerator organized. I recommend getting a lot of different sizes to maximize space. Another tip: those containers you get for takeout food–use them, wash them, and reuse them. They’re literally just free reusable containers. 

5. Electronic notes

Anna Schultz-Girl Using Laptop On Bed
Anna Schultz / Her Campus

The pandemic and progression in technology over the past year has made laptops and students best friends–or worst enemies, depends who you’re asking. With our computers at our fingertips, it might be worth considering using less pencil and paper and more keyboard and screen. Taking digital notes has made me much more organized with my schoolwork; I make color coded spreadsheets and have a Google calendar that is usually more up to date on things than I am.

6. Take a class

As students we are always told to “use our resources”; as students we don’t normally do. But I’m telling you–take advantage of what your school has to offer. As the effects of our own environmental impact on the planet become more and more visible, more and more people want to help. It is worth checking out your school’s website to see if there are any environmental classes you can take to learn more about what you should be doing to help and why.

College is a weird time where our brains are so scattered it’s hard to think of anything other than school, friends, and food, but it really doesn’t take too much to live a bit more sustainably. I hope you find these tips and tricks helpful and easy to incorporate in your daily routine.

Remember–it is the little changes from all of us that will make the big difference.

Bridget Cleary

CU Boulder '23

Hey! My name is Bridget and I am currently a student at the University of Colorado Boulder. I hope to spread awareness of environmental issues through HerCampus which will be a main theme encompassing my articles. You can also find some lighter topics throughout my page such as music, film, fitness, travel, and all-around wellness! If you would like chat feel free to contact me through email or instagram. Contact: Email- [email protected] Insta- @birdge
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