As a student, it may be difficult to make investments in energy efficient cars or install solar panels on your small home while figuring out how your going to afford the stack of textbooks for next quarters classes. Fear not, there are small steps you can take now to become energy conscious to help the environment in your everyday life on and off campus.
9 Tips to Becoming a Greener Student
1. Carry a reusable water bottle
As a student, we are usually haling around a backpack that makes it easy to put a water bottle among our school gear. You will save money and the environment by refilling your bottle rather then continually buying bottles of water. Bottled water leaves a huge carbon footprint because of the packaging and transportation.
For you coffee addicts, carry around a to-go coffee cup (plus most coffee shops give a discount if you BYO cup). Save money and the environment by using a refillable water bottle instead of buying bottled water.
Buy a KeepCup!
EXERCISE. Keep count of how many one time use cups and bottle you use in a span of a week, the average American office worker uses about 9 a week, equalling to about 500 disposable cups a year.
2. Purchase used textbooks
Save money and trees by purchasing used textbooks rather then brand news ones. Amazon and textbook.com have great options for reused textbooks. Once the semester is up and you no longer need your text books, look into reselling or research companies that recycle reusable textbooks, bookbyte.com is a great source that keeps books out of landfills by recycling or donating useable textbooks to the Rotary International Books for the world program.
From class notes to printed essays and handouts, students use masses amounts of paper. Switch to digital as much as possible to reduce the amount of paper used; take notes on tables or laptops, bookmark pages on the internet instead of printing them out. Reuse paper form old assignments to take quick notes or lists, when you have no more use for the paper always recycle. Many high schools and colleges have paper recycle bins around campus, so utilize them. Don't forget to recycle other items as well, such as cans and bottles. Make sure you also clean recyclable products before putting them in bins orals it can contaminate the whole recycle batch.
EXERCISE. Save all the paper you use in one semester, then recycle them all at once. This will help you visualize just how much paper you use, that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
4. Thrift shop
Start buying vintage and shop at thrift stores or yard sales not only will you be helping the environment but you will come to find you have a more unique wardrobe and bedroom/dorm/apartment then your peers. When you switch to second hand shopping you cancel out all the pollution of new manufacturing resources and packaging waste.
5. Totally tote
Instead of constantly using plastic bags for groceries or shopping, invest in tote bags that you can use time and time again. According to Waste Management, only 1% of plastic bags are returned for recycling. That means that the average family only recycles 15 bags a year; the rest ends up in landfills as litter.
EXERCISE. Keep tote bags in your car or by your door, so when you are going shopping you have easy access to a reusable alternative instead of creating more plastic waste.
6. Unplug idle electronics and chargers
If an appliance is plugged into an outlet, it is still using power whether it’s in use or not. You will save money along with wasting less electricity, so simply unplug your cell phone chargers, computers, TV, toaster, and lamps when your not using them.
7. Save water
Water is a limited resource and is "recycled" through water treatment facilities. The more water we waste, the more energy we have to produce to run those facilities. Save water and energy by taking shorter showers, washing full loads of laundry, and turning off the faucet when brushing teeth and washing hands.
8. Walk, bike, or take the bus
Stop driving your car everywhere you need to go. If you live close enough to school, try walking or biking. Live a little farther away? Take mass transit. If you do have to drive your car, drive the speed limit in order to use less gas and roll down the windows instead of using the air conditioner.
9. Eat less meat
Out of this whole list, eating a vegetarian diet is the activity that will have the greatest impact on helping the environment. A United Nations report states that "meat production produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined." If you refuse to give up meat completely, you can still be green by avoiding meat just a few days a week.
Do your part by even considering one of these steps to a sustainable lifestyle.