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7 Easy Ways To Keep Your College Life Green

It’s no secret that college-life creates a lot of waste. Between the endless amount of assignments and articles that I’ve had to print out for class that eventually just get thrown out, the plastic packaging in all of the dining halls and the difficulty to get basic necessities such as shampoo and conditioner at an affordable price, you have to come into college facing the fact that we’re going to have to try to go green where we can while accepting where we can’t. According to Planet Aid, the average college student creates 640 pounds of waste every year.

Luckily, it’s becoming easier (and cheaper) to live a sustainable life as a college student, and Hofstra’s also made some changes based on comments and complaints from students about reducing waste (to a degree). It can seem intimidating, but I promise it’s more achievable than you think in so many areas of your life.

Invest in a reusable water bottle.

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This is definitely the easiest way for you to start living a green lifestyle. Before I even came to Hofstra, I had a reusable water bottle with the logo on it because I wanted to rep my school to everyone that would listen. The bookstore sells some really great options from Nalgene and Camelbak. If you want, you can also invest in a Hydroflask or a Swell bottle if you want an insulated one for your tea or coffee in the morning.

I found an adorable metal water bottle from the brand Simple Modern at Target, and I take it with me everywhere. It's seriously the best investment I've ever made. I promise the water from the filters around campus is actually really good, and they're placed in really convenient places all around campus in every single building, so there's basically no excuse why you wouldn't want to get a reusable water bottle at this point. Unless you're a freshman and have to spend all of your meal points because you had to buy the largest one. In that case, I understand.

Buy a Brita filter for your dorm room.

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When I was coming to school, everyone told me not to buy a Brita filter because I'd never use it. So, I didn't. However, I found myself buying cases of water and going through them ridiculously quickly. While the water filters around campus are extremely convenient if you're going to class, I don't feel like taking the elevator downstairs at 1 a.m. when I'm about to go to bed just because I want to refill my water bottle.

Last week, I bought a Brita filter at Target and I have absolutely no regrets. I use it every single day and it's so convenient. I no longer feel guilty about using water bottles and I'm not afraid to drink tap water anymore. It's a win-win situation.

Skip the Starbucks line and buy a Keurig or Nespresso.

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Believe me, I was excited when I found out about the Starbucks addition just like everyone else was. However, I hated waiting when the Cafe on the Corner line was four people deep, let alone waiting in the line that wraps all the way past Brooklyn Slice. I make a coffee every morning when I'm getting ready for class and I brought some of my favorite mugs from home so I'm not creating too much waste.

If you get a Nespresso, they also have a pod recycling program where you can send back your used pods for free and they clean and recycle them, or you can take them to the Nespresso boutique in the Bloomingdale's at Roosevelt Field. It's a big investment, but I know I'm going to have my Nespresso long after I graduate, and it comes down to less than a dollar per cup of coffee over time. It's not that I never buy Starbucks, but I've deeply cut down on how much I do buy it, and that's what's important.

Start cooking in your residence hall, house or apartment.

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The only advice I have for this is to please be careful. Now that I'm a sophomore, so many more people cook in my residence hall than they did when I was in freshman housing, and the amount of fire alarms we've had in the past two weeks has proved it. 

This can also be cost-effective, especially if you have one of the lower meal plans and can't eat on-campus as much. I'm a big proponent of meal-prep services that send you all of the ingredients pre-measured for every dish. But, Trader Joe's is also the best and the University has a shuttle that runs there every Wednesday and on the weekends. Everyone gets sick of campus food at some point, and this saves a lot of waste from the packaging the University uses to serve food.

Bring reusable straws and utensils everywhere you go.

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We're in college, everyone is carrying a bag or backpack with them around campus. It's pretty easy to carry a set of utensils or a small pouch of straws around with you, and you'd be surprised at how cheap they can be. Plus, they're usually made out of bamboo and that's super cute. Even if you use your reusable utensils along with the paper or plastic boxes from the dining halls, you're still eliminating some waste, and that 640 pounds can be brought down to 630, which is 100,000 pounds of waste saved if everyone on campus did this simple trick. 

Borrow clothes from your friends, roommates or neighbors.

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I remember scrambling for a dress during formal season last year, and I ended up borrowing a dress from my friend because I'm a poor college student and I hate spending money on a dress I'm only going to be able to wear once. Forbes reports that the fashion industry creates 4% of all of the waste of the world. That's a lot.

I've been trying to thrift where I can and invest in eco-friendly brands, but it also gets extremely expensive to re-vamp my wardrobe as much as I'd like to. I know that my roommates and I all borrow clothes constantly. It's a super-easy way to create a new look while also saving money. While Forever 21 and H&M have some pretty tempting prices, it's not worth the fact that it's October and I can still wear shorts to class. 

Utilize the campus shuttle system or carpool whenever you can.

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My best friend and I both work at Roosevelt Field Mall. There have been times when we realize we're both working the same shift at different stores and we ended up carpooling there and back. Before I had my car on campus, I used the shuttle system to go to places like Target, the train station and the mall. It's super convenient and a lot of our tuition money goes toward the bus system, so we should use it.

Going green on campus seems difficult, but with a little extra effort, you can make it simple, affordable and effective.

Cassity is a senior Public Relations and French double major at Hofstra. Her life's mission is to find the best oat milk latte in New York City and live out her dream of someday being as iconic as Carrie Bradshaw. Until then, she's happy to serve as Co-President of Her Campus Hofstra.
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