The Green Scene in College

Personal improvements are important, especially with us stuck inside most days. We are all wondering what we can do to improve ourselves and our lives. What better way to do that than helping the planet on the way?

In college, it can seem a little hard to be eco-friendly with the amounts of food wrappers and general waste. We are all looking for cheaper options with money being tight. It can sometimes seem impossible to recycle and make environmentally conscious decisions but trust me, it is easier than it seems. Some changes do not cost any money and can save you money. Some may cost some money but can be a great investment for later. Whether in a dorm or an apartment, here are a few tips that should be able to give the world a helping hand. 

Unplug Everything You Are Not Using

white and rose gold bedside table lamp next to bed with plant Photo by Burst from Pexels Especially when you pay your electricity bills, it is so important to unplug and turn off electronics. Even when your electronics are turned off or fully charged, they are still using electricity. Turning off all your lights and devices helps a lot. Unplugging the power strip and chargers from the wall can also severely cut down on your electricity usage. Also, avoiding drying your clothes in a dryer when you can is important to cut out energy use. Air drying clothes work just as well, just a quick space and time adjustment.

Try to Cut Out Plastic

Trash, outdoors Photo by John Cameron from Unsplash This is a big one. Plastic has seemingly consumed our lives. It seems like we cannot live without plastic. But there are ways to cut out most plastic uses. Instead of plastic baggies, use reusable silicone storage bags. Buy a reusable water bottle and a reusable straw too. Plastic bottles and straws are some of the worst things for our environment, but everyone uses them. Replacing your disposable razor for a safety razor is another great idea and it's cheaper in the long run. Do not use K-Cups. If you have a Keurig, they have reusable coffee filters for them. Use bar soaps instead of body wash. They are making bar shampoos and conditioners, as well as toothpaste that is not in a tube. Getting rid of all single-use things is important too. Buy reusable cotton rounds and cotton swabs. Get reusable bags for grocery shopping! Don’t use the little plastic bags for your produce, and try to buy products with the least amount of packaging.

Use Less Paper

Woman with planner Photo by Paico Official from Unsplash When in school, it is normal to use paper to take notes. Assignments and essays are written on paper. Recycling is great, but it is not best to use a bunch of paper in the first place. Limiting your paper use can lessen the need for paper which can, in turn, lessen the number of trees being cut down for paper use. Start by writing your notes on your computer and only printing out essays when it is necessary. COVID-19 has seemed to help us transition to more digital work in class, so take that as practice.

Reduce Water Usage

Ryan Norville At the risk of sounding like a broken record, gets a reusable water bottle. It will cut back on the use of bottled water. Also, taking a shorter shower helps a lot. Turning off the water when shaving can cut down on the water waste a ton. It can also help lessen your electricity bill and save you hot water for later.

Eat Less Meat

Stijn te Strake This does not mean cutting out meat completely, which is a great option, but just cutting down meat consumption to a few days a week helps drastically. The meat industry is huge. More than 30% of the land is being used for livestock. That is a huge number. Livestock also produces a whole lot of air pollution.

Decrease Your Food Waste

Korean food Photo by Jakub Kapusnak from Unsplash Along with eating less meat, creating less food waste is a great way to go green. First, only get a bit of food. You can always go back for seconds. Another thing is to take Tupperware with you to the dining halls and taking your leftovers back to your dorm. It provides a great snack and can save you money too. Third, make sure you eat your leftovers and everything you buy. I used to buy a bunch of snacks and then they used to sit in my snack drawer. That was a huge waste. But I then donated them to our campus’s food pantry so other students could have them. That was one way that I cut out my food waste and is a good way for others to as well.

Recycle Everything

recycle only VanveenJF It is really important to recycle. In your dorm or apartment, set out a different bin just for recyclables. Also, almost anything can be recycled, reused, or repurposed. Thinking about throwing something away? A quick search on the web can tell you hundreds of ways to repurpose almost everything you can think of.

Fix It. Don’t Get Rid of It

Pexels If you have clothes that get torn or things that get busted, you can probably fix them. Purchase a tiny sewing kit to fix minor holes. Glue can help mend most broken glassware and other items. If it is too broken to mend to its original use, find a way to repurpose it, or like mentioned earlier, find out if you can recycle it.

Don’t Drive

pink bicycle in front of a stoop Photo by Alexander Schimmeck from Unsplash Depending on where you live this can be harder than the others. One easy rule to think about is that if it takes less than 30 minutes to walk, then ditch your car. If it takes longer, see if you can ride the public transport to get to and from your destination. Cars were a great invention, but they are harmful to the environment. Getting a bike is probably the easiest way to stop driving. It does seem like a bit of an investment but there are benefits to the earth and your physical health.

Shop Consciously

Young woman looking at different racks of clothes at a store. Photo by StockSnap from Pixabay Borrowing instead of buying is fantastic. Most libraries have great services so you can get books, movies, and music for free for a few weeks. Buying used things like clothes can help lessen your carbon footprint immensely.

There are a ton of ways out there to help the environment. By no means is my list complete. These are just a few tips to help people get started. The earth needs our help, do your part in saving it.