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Can You be Eco-Friendly as a College Student?

For many people, college is an intersection in their life where they have the most freedom and independence to make decisions for themselves;  they are exposed to new ideas, but at the same time they are limited by part time work and having to live in a tiny dorm room with at least one roommate. Many college students wish that they had the ability to live in a more eco-friendly way, but they feel limited by the inflexibility of life on campus. While financial, time, and space restraints can make sustainability challenging, there are plenty of creative ways to help the planet while you’re in college.

 


Take advantage of on campus recycling 

Take advantage of on campus recycling

Many college campuses are taking sustainability more seriously than they have in the past, which gives some students access to recycling in their dorms and in other campus buildings. This is a great place to start on your journey towards sustainability and is an easy way to prioritize living in an eco-friendly way. Making the choice to take those extra few seconds to sort your trash into what’s recyclable and what is just garbage may not be as simple as chucking everything in the trash can, but at the end of the day it adds up to having a huge impact on the planet. Recycling can be daunting at first for some people, especially if they don’t know what materials can be recycled and what needs to be thrown away. Many campuses provide great resources on how to recycle and how to take full advantage of campus sustainability programs.

 


Make reusable products a priority

Make reusable products a priority

One of the easiest ways for college students to reduce their environmental impact is to choose reusable products wherever possible. Taking the time to grab that reusable water bottle on the way out of the dorm and building that habit, may not feel as convenient as buying a water bottle later when you need it, but it can have a huge impact on the amount of waste you leave behind every day. Utilizing reusable cutlery instead of single use plastic dining hall cutlery is also an easy way to cut down on unnecessary waste that cannot be recycled or reused. If you’re stuck on where to get started, EcoCart has great resources for ideas on how to incorporate reusable products into your routine, whatever your budget looks like. All it takes is a little creativity and a willingness to start making changes in your daily routines. Reusable products can also save you money over time, which no college student is going to turn down!

 


Opt for second-hand clothing when possible

Opt for second-hand clothing when possible

Many university campuses often have relatively easy access to thrift stores or Goodwills, and these are a great way to avoid the fast fashion cycle and find great clothing at the same time! The fashion industry is always pushing for people to buy more and more new clothes, even when the clothes they have are perfectly acceptable. College students also face a great deal of social pressure to always be adapting to changing styles. Thrift stores are a great place for college students to get new clothes at affordable prices, and help the environment at the same time. You can also donate used clothing to these stores in order to give it a longer life, or sell lightly used clothing and make some extra money! The more life you can get out of the purchases you make, the less you have to buy that will just end up in the landfill eventually. Buying intentionally, buying secondhand, and using what you have are also great ways to save money as a student, instead of always purchasing new items.

 


Add some plants to your room

Add some plants to your room

When you cram several people into a small room with limited access to laundry and not very much time for cleaning, some degree of stink is going to occur. One way to combat this without filling the air with chemical based air fresheners, is to open up the windows and add some plants to your room. Not only will they add some décor to a bare looking dorm room, but they help clean the air and bring a great fresh scent! Your dorm is also a great place to look for ways to use less energy and reduce your carbon footprint. Even though you may have limited control, there are still things you can do to make a difference. Every little bit counts, especially when others join in!

 


Use EcoCart when you buy online

Use EcoCart when you buy online

Being at college often without easy access to a vehicle, means that many people opt to buy more online instead of having to coordinate a ride with friends to go to the store or rely on public transportation. A simple way to reduce your carbon footprint, is to install the EcoCart Chrome extension and use it whenever you check out online. Every time you see the green button popup, or the shop sustainably tag in your search results, you know that the site you are shopping at supports EcoCart and all you have to do is click the green button and EcoCart takes care of the rest. You can shop online without worrying about your carbon footprint and do your part for the planet!

 

College can be a difficult time to prioritize sustainability, but it is by no means impossible. All it takes is a willingness to make intentional decisions and take steps to prioritize sustainability wherever you can. Many colleges are also home to clubs and organizations that work to protect the environment and equip students to live more sustainably. These provide a perfect opportunity for students to get involved in their local community and find like-minded students. It’s always easier to be part of a team, and clubs can be a great source of motivation and information to help you to live more sustainably. There are endless possibilities like cleaning up local ecosystems, supporting local farmers markets, and helping promote sustainability among other students, that students can engage in to make a real difference while at college.