8 Sustainability Tips for College Students

Sustainability is a really big thing for 2019-- everyone wants to try to be more responsible to help the environment and be less wasteful. Although it might seem hard to be sustainable in college, it’s really not. Here’s a bunch of little things that you can do as a college student to be more sustainable and environmentally-friendly (plus a lot of these tips will save you some money too!). Try these things out for yourself and encourage your friends to do the same!


1. Buy thrifted/vintage clothes instead of fast fashion

The fashion industry is one of the main sources of pollution and wastefulness in the world. Although it’s easy to succumb to fast fashion stores because they are cheap and trendy, you should really try to buy from them as little as possible. If you’re big on fashion but want to be more sustainable, try vintage or thrift shopping. Since so many styles today are inspired by the past, it isn’t hard to find stylish looks at thrift or vintage shops, and they’re super affordable too.

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2. Stop using plastic bags at stores, start using reusable ones

Plastic bags from stores are non-biodegradable and really are horrible for the environment. New York actually just became the second state to ban single-use plastic bags in retail stores, which is a great step in the right direction! You can easily buy reusable bags for super cheap and use them all the time whether it be for groceries, clothes, whatever. Since college students usually don’t need to buy tons of groceries at once, it’s really only necessary to get a couple of reusable bags anyways!

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3. Bring your own cup/thermos to coffee shops and use reusable water bottles

Plastic cups and straws that you drink soda and iced coffee out of are also really bad for the environment (think of the turtles!). Invest in a nice thermos and a reusable cup with a straw to use whenever you go out to get coffee, tea, or soda anywhere. If you use one every day, it will be super easy to get in the habit of cleaning it daily and bringing it around with you. Plus there’s all kinds of cute and stylish cups you can get! In the same vein, try to invest in a reusable water bottle. Most schools now have filtered water bottle fill stations all over the place for a reason! Just get yourself a nice water bottle to refill as necessary instead of buying extremely wasteful plastic water bottles.

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5. Buy more local foods

This may not seem as obvious, but the food industry is a very big issue for pollution and waste. Try to look up what types of food are more sustainable (for example, the beef industry is very bad for the environment) and try to limit how much you eat those foods. Buying local produce at farmer’s markets is also a great way to be more sustainable as well as support your local economy. Restaurants are also very wasteful, so when you get the chance try not to go out to eat as much-- your wallet will thank you for that one too!

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6. Be more minimalistic with your belongings

People tend to be very wasteful with their belongings and don’t even realize it. A great way to be more sustainable is just to be more aware of what kinds of belongings or products you truly need. Our consumerist society is so used to buying new useless things all the time, so try to be thoughtful before you buy new things. Also, if something you have is broken, try to be more resourceful and fix it or DIY it before you go out and buy a new one for no reason.

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7. Spend less time in the car

College students usually don’t drive around as much as the average person, but it’s good to try to avoid driving your car as much as possible because vehicles are also major contributors to pollution. This isn’t as doable in certain areas, but especially if you live in a city, try to use public transport, walk, skate, or bike instead of taking a car if you can.

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8. Try to conserve heat/air/water in your house or dorm

You may not think about it as much since you may not be personally paying for your utilities in college, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be mindful of how much you use them. Remember to turn off lights and appliances when you don’t need them, try to be conservative about how high you turn up your air or heat, and try to lessen how much water you waste too.

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