6 Things I Stopped Buying as a College Student (to Help Save the Environment)

Turning my lights off during Earth Hour has been a yearly ritual I started practicing ten years ago. The event is organized annually to show our commitment to our Mother Earth. But how do we put that into practice 365 days each year?

On Earth Day this year, I feel relieved knowing that I'm (finally!) contributing little by little to better Earth by speaking to friends and families about Meatless Mondays, zero-waste products, and the environmental impact we have by shopping in fast-fashion retailers. Aside from that, I’ve been experimenting with new ways to decrease my waste on the environment.

Listed below are six ways you can make a positive impact yourself as a college student without breaking your bank. Let’s start with the most wasteful materials we use almost every day:

1. Cling Wrap

Swap with: Beeswax, silicon cover, glass containers—they’re all reusable, washable, and take little to no space in your pantry.

2. Plastic Straws

Swap with: Metal straws (come in silver, rose gold, and chrome—how cute are they?!). Plus, it might help you get rid of your bad straw-chewing habit.

Image Credit: Célina Rohrbach

3. Conditioner

Swap with: Hair oils! A light touch of coconut oil always helps to detangle and nourish your hair strands with tons of vitamin E. Most conditioners contain silicone that wraps around your hair shafts to make them appear smoother to the touch, but is actually suffocating your hair and making it even dryer.

4. Cleaners

Swap with: Baking soda and white vinegar. Buy them in bulk — they’re so useful! Can’t scrub the gunk off of your non-stick pan? Sprinkle some baking soda and scrub away without using any harsh detergents. Want to reuse a pasta jar but it smells? Soak it with baking soda and white vinegar with a splash of water and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Now you can reuse your jar to store your overnight oats without any weird scent.

5. Green Onions

Instead of wasting the remaining green onions that you’re not using, keep them fresh by filling a reusable jar with water just enough to cover the roots. You’ll keep them fresh and green and have an endless supply of green onions that you don’t need to buy anymore. $1.29 per bundle seems cheap until you have to throw the bad ones out constantly and purchase them over and over again.

6. Plastic Bags

Swap with: Recyclable/canvas totes! It’s so useful to carry an extra tote in your backpack for that emergency grocery store visit instead of paying ten cents for paper bags that might break on your bike ride home. Also, another reason to flaunt the cute tote you received from an amazing store and/or conferences which makes for great conversational starters.

Image Credit: Rahul Bohgal

I hope you enjoy these tips as you transition to a greener lifestyle! Know that small changes like these — when done collectively — are a huge leap for the environment.

Happy Earth Day!