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8 Easy College-Friendly Switches to Help Save the Planet

Let's be honest—everyone wants to help our environment, but it can be hard to make the big sacrifices that do so. So voilá! Here are eight easy, inexpensive ways to help save the planet that are apartment and student-friendly. 

Hanging Plants

Increasing the amount of greenery in your apartment doesn’t just make for a clean aesthetic.  Plants help clean the air by absorbing toxins and producing oxygen. Some plants even produce oxygen 24 hours a day. If you’re interested in buying more plants in the Richmond area, I recommend a trip to the Richmond Plant Bar. For tips on the best plants that you can foster on a window sill, read this article by Taya Coates. 

Buy Used Furniture

Buying used furniture might feel like a no-brainer, but it can be tricky to find clean and chic pieces on a budget. I recommend searching through your favorite thrift shops as a starting place, but really recommend online venues like Facebook Marketplace, Shopify, Letgo or eBay

Buy Vintage 

Like buying used furniture, this can be a chic way of spicing up your living space without spending too much. I recommend searching through Depop and Etsy for high-quality curated vintage or take a look at a new local business that recently opened on Broad Street. 

Recycle Old Light Bulbs

Okay but aren’t these the cutest? Turns out, old light bulbs—even the energy-saving bulbs that help reduce carbon emissions—have minuscule amounts of mercury in them.

Letting these bulbs sit in a landfill can be environmentally dangerous. The next time your lights need to be replaced, consider a fun lil’ DIY to keep these bad boys out of waste piles.  

Leftover Day 

This right here has single-handedly saved me so much money! I really can’t stress how much buying groceries makes my pockets hurt. And to add insult to injury, I used to be wasting one or two food items a week because they went bad or were too old for my pretentious self to eat.

Having a designated leftover day ensures that I sit down and consume old food, and clean out my fridge. If there’s any tip you take from this article, please let it be this one! 

Shame Your Wasteful Friends

No, seriously. Peer pressure has been clinically proven to work. And everyone knows one of the best ways to change worrisome or harmful behavior is to have friends hold you accountable.

When you notice that your roommate leaves the water running while doing the dishes, call them out. Cancel culture isn’t real, but the 2 million Americans living without access to clean water are. 

Go Meatless

While typing, this tip made me shiver in fear; going meatless even once a week helps decrease greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. Going meatless is also less expensive as beans, veggies and greens are significantly less expensive than protein options.

Lastly, going meatless also reduces our water use. Approximately 1,850 gallons of water are required to produce one pound of beef, whereas approximately 39 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of vegetables.

When in Doubt, Head to the Experts 

When it doubt, YouTube it out! YouTube is the how-to mecca— here’s quite literally a video for everything. If at any point in your apartment furnishing adventure you need advice, tips or inspiration, YouTube should be your first point of contact (and then maybe Pinterest). 

Happy hunting, you eco-conscious college student!

Josephine Walker is a senior double degree at VCU studying Broadcast Journalism (B.S.) & Political Science (B.A.) She is a storyteller and interviewer with a history of conceptualizing and reporting on diverse stories. In her free time, she enjoys debating with her friends, playing with her cat Garfield, and making vegan brownies with her roommate Malayna.
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