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Important Steps College Students Should Take to Live Green

Shutterstock Photo License - Jon Bilous
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Sustainability is becoming a greater concern to colleges all over the world. The University of Colorado – Boulder pledged to reduce its carbon footprint by 50% by 2030. Many other colleges are taking similar measures.

However, these changes are not enough on their own. We also need students to step up and work harder to help reduce their carbon footprint.

If you hope to make a big lifestyle change, there is no time better than your student years to do so. And when it comes to adopting a sustainable life, the key idea is to build habits gradually. There are a lot of things that you can do to lower your carbon footprint if you plan properly.

In other words, you do not have to quit meat or start composting in one day (although it is a good idea to understand the impact that meat has on your health and the environment). But you can slowly build a much more sustainable lifestyle than how you used to live before. Here are some tips that can help you through the process. 

For your Studying Environment

As a student, most of your time will be set aside to study. However, there are a number of ways for you to make your work environment more eco-friendly while increasing your productivity.

  • Most campuses have different places that allow you to sit and study under natural light. It could be under a tree or even a library reading space. Even if you prefer your room, you can turn off the lights and keep your windows open to make the most of the sun. 
  • If your room does not allow the natural light to come through, try rearranging the furniture. Try to align the desk in a way that your study area gets the most sunlight. Similarly, make sure that there are no bulky items next to the air conditioning or heater that is blocking it. 
  • Another, and perhaps the easiest step for students to go sustainable, would be to reduce using paper. You can find out if you can submit assignments online, thus minimizing the need for paper. Moreover, academic platforms like WritePaper offer students paper writing services online. You get a .doc file, and there is no need for you to print out anything. 
  • While at it, you can also save any scratch paper you might have and use it for taking quick notes. 
  • As you’re using your computer for studying, working, or resting, you might find yourself leaving it on. While you’re not using it, it consumes extra energy. You can change your computer’s settings to automatically sleep or turn off after a few minutes of inactivity, and this will save your energy consumption. 

At Home

Your dorm room on the campus or your student apartment is the best place to begin making a positive impact.

  • Before you buy your own lamps or bulbs, make sure to choose only compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). These use about 75% less energy than conventional light bulbs and even last ten times longer, in addition to being cheaper
  • Although this might seem obvious, always turn off lights when leaving a room. 
  • If you are considering buying a refrigerator for your room, wait until you check with your roommate to see whether they also want to. If so, you can share one. 
  • If you use heating or air conditioning, make sure to check whether your windows are tightly shut. A slightly open window that lets in cool air from outside will cause the heater to work harder and waste more electricity. 
  • Your room is very unlikely to have enough outlets for all your electronics. You will need a power strip, but choose a smart one that provides surge protection and reduces power surges from phantom loads. These can sense that your computer is on sleep mode and automatically turn off power to devices that aren’t currently being used. 
  • Save water by shortening the length of your shower. You should also turn off the water when you are brushing. And if not necessary, you can use less hot water, which will reduce the consumption of energy as well. 
  • Do laundry only when you have full loads. If you do not have one yet, combine laundry with your roommate. If you are washing in a cold setting, there is no need for you to separate your whites and colors. Instead, choose the color setting and avoid having to do another load of laundry just for your whites. 
  • If you live on your own, try to cook whenever you can. This will help you save money on deliveries and will be a greener way to approach your life. 

On Your College Campus

Every college campus has different facilities to help students lead a sustainable life. This also includes tips to reduce waste and energy. It would be a great idea to visit the sustainability office to understand what measures you can take to make your living more eco-friendly.

  • Pick one day to go meatless at your campus cafeteria. You can even rally for a program to offer only vegetarian options for one day or include more of them. 
  • Avoid using single-use plastic bottles. Instead, invest in a reusable bottle or even try bringing your own coffee mug when you want to buy some in a coffee shop. 
  • Join your college’s sustainability club, and attend their events and workshops. If your campus doesn’t have one, gather your friends and start one. 
  • If you are one to take more initiatives, take a look at your college policies, and see what changes you can ask for to make your campus more sustainable. 
  • Depending on your college, it might be easy for you to recycle your waste. Bear in mind that recycling reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. And above all, try to avoid procrastination when it comes to recycling. Put otherwise, if you are able, recycle even one aluminum can. It will have a positive impact. 
  • Check if your room comes with a recycling bin. If not, you will be able to find one on campus. 

In Your Community

You can extend your sustainability efforts outside your college campus in the following ways. 

  • Whenever possible, try to shop local. Of course, purchasing from online stores might be cheaper and easier, but check out your college town and support local business owners. 
  • Invest in some reusable cloth bags that you can use whenever you are outside for grocery shopping. 
  • Visit your local farmer’s market once a week and find places that sell sustainably made food. 
  • To get around, try to use bikes or go on foot if comfortable. If there is no other way, use public transport to cut down on fossil fuel consumption. 
  • Being a student, you might want to keep your closet always updated. Try thrift shopping. This can be a fun way to find new items while repurposing clothes. 
  • When buying makeup products, try to stick to cruelty-free and sustainable brands. In spite of what you think, there are several brands that offer eco-friendly, affordable skincare items.

Many are under the impression that sustainable living involves high costs. Instead, all it requires is commitment. If you can set aside some time for our environment, you can find several ways to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle without having to break a bank.

After all, choosing a reusable bottle will allow you to avoid buying bottled water, and thrift shopping can be the cheaper and cooler option if done well. So, do not get discouraged from making the switch. And if possible, try convincing others with your lifestyle that even small changes can make a big difference to our planet.

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