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College is hard. Your schedule is always full, whether it's classes, clubs, or the big game. When your planner is full, and you still haven't done your laundry for the week, the thought of adding something else to your to-do list sounds insane.
But, adopting green habits is not hard. It may seem like too much to add to your never ending list of things to remember, but incorporating some simple practices into your lifestyle can make your college years that much more meaningful.
1. Walk it out.
Most college campuses have everything you need within walking distance. Bikes, scooters (no judgement), and skateboards are all excellent means of getting around if you aren't a walker.
If you truly have to use a car, there's probably no other place on Earth where it's easier to carpool than on campus. Plus, it's way more fun to hitch a ride with friends than to be in the car alone, with no one to press the "Watch Video for 30 Minutes Ad Free" button when that one Spotify ad comes on. You know what I'm talking about.
Plus, do you really, really want to give up that parking spot?
2. Power down.
Most dorms and studio apartments have the same problem — too many plugs, not enough outlets. So, you probably already own a power strip.
A great way to cut down on wasted electricity is to plug all non essentials like lamps, charger, or fans into one power strip, and turn it off whenever you leave. This way, you're only using those items when you really need them (those super cute string lights don't need to be on all day), and you don't have to turn off or unplug everything one by one. Just flip the switch, and you're good.
Also, remember to turn out the lights. Lights in dorm common areas are often left on constantly, so if you see a light on in an empty study room or lounge, go ahead and turn them off. You'll feel like adding "Environmental Warrior" to your Instagram bio.
3. Do the dishes.
If you're in a dorm that only has a community kitchen, paper plates and plastic forks are super tempting.
But, they're also very wasteful, and not just in an environmental sense. Disposable cups and plates can waste your money too.
To remedy this, buy some cheap kitchenware. I found two bowls, two plates, and some utensils for under five dollars, and that's all I've needed. Five bucks for the entire year vs. five bucks every month for plates and cups? It's a no brainer.
Yes, you'll have to wash them in the community kitchen, but you'll save a lot of money, and dramatically reduce the waste you produce this year.
4. Drink up.
Everyone's heard a reusable water bottle speech before, but they really are a great way to cut back on plastic waste. I know you already have one, because water bottles are the twin sister to teeshirts in college- they're everywhere, and they're free.
A lot of campuses also have bottle refilling stations, and if not they definitely have good old fashioned water fountains. There's also the drink fountains in the dining hall. There's really no excuse not be more hydrated than you've ever been in your life.
So, don't waste your time toting a sixteen ounce plastic bottle because it'll be empty in two seconds, and it makes that annoying crinkly sound that'll make your classmates hate you during lecture.
Even recycling a plastic bottle is never as good for the planet as not using it at all. Reduce if you can, recycle if you have to.
5. Don't throw it out.
When it's time to pack up and move out for the summer, take some time to really think about what you need to keep for next year. If you have to fly home, or you're graduating, you can sell your stuff.
Your school probably has an online group where students can buy, sell, and give away items they don't need.
Posting what you need to get rid of saves perfectly good items from being sent straight to a landfill, and you can make a little cash- just like selling back your textbooks.
Also, if you're in need of stuff for your dorm, check these groups first before going on a huge Target haul. You'll probably be getting a better deal, and you'll also be saving that adorable shoe organizer from the dumpster.
Stick with it!
College is tough, but being environmentally conscious isn't. You don't have to be an Environmental Science major, a vegan, or a compost fanatic to do your part. These small steps are just the beginning.
What impact will you make this semester?