Living a green lifestyle can be accomplished in college, and is actually very easy to do. Colleges are promoters of environmentally friendly living and support efforts to be green beyond recycling and reusing. Below is advice on living a low cost green lifestyle in college, and tips in specific areas such as housing, transportation, books, clothing and food.
Traditional college dorm rooms may not conjure up images of green living, but they actually offer many characteristics that fit into a green lifestyle—small personal living spaces; shared spaces such as bathrooms, kitchenettes and living rooms; and most are furnished with basic pieces. A student needs little more than bedding and towels to move in and make it home.
Many students think they need a car at college, but the fact is most campuses are designed to be pedestrian friendly. Your car will sit in the student parking lot accumulating parking fees and monthly insurance premiums. Sell the car, and instead invest in a bicycle or scooter, depending on your specific needs. Buy a good quality used item to save money and reduce your footprint. At break, ride the bus or carpool home with a fellow student. Many colleges have carpool boards to pair riders with drivers.
Never purchase new books unless you have to. Used books are lower cost and don’t contribute to new printing. Compare the cost at the campus store to online sellers for the best deal. The same applies at the end of the class—compare the buy-back amount at the campus store to what you could make selling it yourself online or to another student. Other considerations are sharing a book with a friend or checking it out at the campus library. For supplies, only purchase the bare minimum you will actually use. For specialty supplies, wait until you actually need them before purchasing since class plans often change mid-term.
College is the one time in life you can wear just about anything and nobody seems to mind. Thrift stores are the college student’s best friend for clothing, and fit perfectly into a green lifestyle. Used jeans, khakis, tees and sweatshirts can be picked up for a few dollars. Thrift stores are also good for furnishing your dorm room with inexpensive furniture, bedding, and housewares.
The dorm cafeteria may be the biggest challenge in living a green lifestyle. The food is both expensive and probably not locally sourced or organically grown. If you have a dining plan, there are things you can do to make it a less expensive and greener experience. Purchase the minimum dining plan available for starters. Many plans offer all-you-can eat formats. This may allow you to stock up at lunch and turn it into dinner. Bring a reusable food storage container with you for leftovers, and supplement with inexpensive and locally grown produce from a farmer’s market.
There are many ways to live a green lifestyle at college that are affordable and minimize your footprint. Looking out for used items you can purchase or borrow, living minimally in the dorms, and stretching your cafeteria plan all add up to a sustainable college experience. Not only will these tips save money, they will also help save the environment for the next generation of dorm dwellers.