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5 Small, Sustainable Lifestyle Changes You Can Make as a College Student

There’s a lot of talk about being “sustainable” these days among millennials, and probably amongst your friends and family, too – and rightfully so. As most people are aware, our environment is in some trouble, and a large factor of that harm is caused by us. While it’s nearly impossible to live a completely sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle, especially as a college student, there are little changes you can make that will spark a really significant impact in the long run.

Get a reusable water bottle.

This probably comes as no surprise to almost everyone, but using plastic water bottles, even if you’re recycling them, is really, really bad for the environment. Not only is it wasteful, but it isn’t exactly the most cost-effective drinking method, either. You can get a fairly cheap, reusable water bottle on Amazon, or you could splurge a little bit and get a more durable (and trendier) one from brands like Hydroflask and S’well. 

Switch from regular k-cups to reusable ones.

We know you can’t live without that Keurig-brewed coffee in the morning (it’s college, we get it.) Instead of spending an arm and a leg on a new box of k-cups every two weeks, try switching out your single-use k-cups for reusable ones. All you have to do with these little guys is rinse them out after every use, and then refill with ground coffee any time you want to brew a good ol’ cup of joe. No sweat on you, your wallet, or the environment. 

Stop using plastic straws (we know you saw this one coming.)

PSA: discontinuing your use of plastic straws isn’t going to solve the ocean pollution issue overnight, despite what social media wants you to think. However, it will significantly help reduce the amount of waste that gets distributed into the ocean, and every little bit helps, right? Whenever you go out and order a drink, bring a reusable metal straw with you and ditch the plastic straw. The turtles will thank you.

Buy reusable, washable cotton rounds to remove makeup.

Wearing makeup can be fun, but removing it is another story. Instead of buying makeup wipes (which can be expensive) or using disposable cotton rounds to remove your makeup, buy reusable ones instead. You can find these in packs of 5 or 10 on Amazon for really reasonable prices, and they’re incredibly easy to use. All you have to do to keep them clean is throw them in the washing machine whenever they get dirty (it truly could not be easier!) Overall, you’ll save money because you won’t have to continue repurchasing makeup wipes, and you’re helping the environment by not throwing out one or two (or three, or four…) cotton rounds every day.

Recycle. (Shocker!)

We know, this seems really obvious. Reduce, reuse, recycle… you’ve heard it all before – but how often do you actually do it? If you’re a college student, probably not as often as you should. How often do you just throw out a plastic water bottle in the regular trash bin because “you don’t have time to go to the recycling bin,” or just throw that plastic bag from your late-night Ubereats right into the regular trash? Probably too often. Go that extra few steps to walk to the recycling bin, we promise you it’s worth it in the long-run. Plus, you’ll get into the routine of doing it, and it’ll feel like second-nature every time you need to get that trash out of your way.


We hope this article inspired you to get your thumb a little greener, your lifestyle more sustainable, and the environment a little happier. 

Madeline is a journalism major at Hofstra University, and is a writer for HC Hofstra. If you're looking for her, you can probably find her at an Anthropologie, the beach, or eating peanut butter out of the jar.
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