There is an illusion that living a green life is expensive – but that’s not the case at all. In our “How Can I Go Green on a Budget?” series, we focus on different areas of your life where you can live more conscious of your environment AND finances. We’ll help you use what you already have so you can reduce your expenditures and impact on the planet.
Green Living at School
You’re away at school and you want to go green to show your love for the environment, but you’re not sure where to start. You can’t always control your utility costs, and you might be under the illusion that green living costs more money. If you’re looking for ways to lessen your carbon footprint while sticking to a strict student budget, we have ten tips that you and your eco-friendly friends should try.
1) Ride Your Bike
When is a better time in your life to ride a bicycle to work and to school? Keep your car parked and turn your focus to your wheels. Most college campuses are bike-friendly with bike racks located outside most of the lecture halls. With a bike culture comes safer roads and drivers more in tune with sharing the road. Riding a bicycle doesn’t require gasoline and doesn’t burn off emissions. And you’ll be burning calories, too!
Most college towns have at least one or two bike shops. If a swanky new set of wheels isn’t in your budget, ask if they have used bikes. We’d bet they will, so you can nab a bike for cheap. As always, stay safe and wear a helmet!
2) Join a Community Garden or CSA
Living green is often coupled with being understanding where your food comes from. Maybe become a member of your local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), or join a community garden. College towns are prevalent with community gardens. Contact the local co-op grocery store, if there is one, to see if they can guide you.
Growing food and being a part of the food growers community puts you at the front of living green. Plus, you’ll find like-minded friends, and a community to enjoy whole, healthy food with as you go green. It’s a good vibe.
When you buy into a CSA, you support the local farmers and eat organic food free from pesticides. Eating organic is a must do when supporting a greener lifestyle. When you join a CSA, often the cost of the produce and items received equals what you would pay for conventional fruit and vegetables.
3) Don’t Overprint
There can be a tendency to want to print everything, but in a time when we can access documents and papers electronically either via tablet, phone, or computer, why print?
If you do choose to print, save paper and ink by printing in grayscale and with the double-sided option. And when you’re finished with the printout, make sure you place it in a recycling bin. Every sheet counts!
4) Bring a Water Bottle
Bring a reusable water bottle with you to stay hydrated. Stop buying disposable water bottles and instead fill up at water fountains all over campus. Bottles made with stainless steel are ideal, as they wash and wear really well, or if you buy plastic, be sure it’s BPA-free.
5) Bring Your Own Bags
Whether you live in a dorm, house, or apartment, you’ll need to do some grocery shopping. Stock up on reusable bags so you don’t have to carry your groceries in disposable plastic bags. Every bag counts!
6) Buy Used Books
Once you receive your list of books for the semester, hop over to Amazon or other used book outlets to see if you can locate them used. Books are one of the most expensive parts of any student budget, and new text books are the price of super-fancy coffee table books. Besides, If there are a few scratches and highlighted sentences, no big deal. You might even score a few tips from the notes written by the previous owner!
7) Take Notes Electronically
Bring your laptop or tablet to class for note-taking instead of the old-school way by hand in notebooks. By typing out notes, you will reduce your use of paper notebooks, saving trees and your limited budget. It will also help you stay organized.
8) Borrow When You Can
College comes with an atmosphere of community, so when you need something, ask around to borrow it before you head out to buy it. Examples include a kitchen appliance, a cooler, or even clothing items. If you are heading for the mountains over spring break and snow is expected, see if you can borrow a ski jacket instead of buying one you might use only a few times.
9) Shorten Your Showers
Keep your water consumption to a minimum. You’ll save money, and conserve one of our planet’s most precious resource. Besides, you’re in college – you don’t have to smell good all the time!
10) Power Down
When those computers, televisions, and other electronics aren’t being used, turn them off. Every bit of electricity counts when being pulled from the grid, and the less electricity you use, the less you pay for! Invest in a smart power strip you can plug everything into and them manage remotely from your smartphone.