Photo Credit: Honor Goldberg
It is becoming more and more crucial for people to develop environmentally-conscious habits as we become more cognizant of the effects that our actions have on the environment. However, living sustainably might be particularly difficult for college students. When juggling social and scholastic responsibilities while adjusting to a new environment, there may not be much time or energy left over to think about how daily decisions might affect one’s surroundings. Eco-conscious living might even feel like a luxury due to financial limitations and restricted resource access. In this post, we'll look at some of the barriers that college students face in their efforts to lead more environmentally-friendly lives and offer advice on how to get beyond them.
From one college student to another, I have faced the moral dilemma of being environmentally conscious or maintaining a college friendly budget. This is not an easy task, and the resources for college students to implement these routines seem nonexistent. Part of my journey developing Aer Cosmetics was navigating the ways that I can make sustainable practices second nature in my life without draining my already limited pockets and taking up too much time with research. Whether you are a college student yourself or not, I encourage you to stick around and learn about the cost-efficient and convenient practices you can implement to your daily routine.
Before we take a look at easy transitions to adapt to your lifestyle to live a more sustainable life, it’s important to understand why it is even necessary in the first place. College students are the pioneers for future change; the momentum we generate now will reflect on our lives, our children’s lives, and beyond. Due to our lifestyles and habits, college students have a major effect on the environment. Students produce a significant amount of waste and carbon emissions across all aspects of our lives, including transportation, housing, food consumption, and energy use. We could lessen the environmental impact we create and advance a more sustainable future by putting sustainable practices into action.
Implementing sustainable practices is beneficial for the economy, society, and the environment. Sustainable practices can lower the cost of living, generate jobs, and promote public health through reducing waste and resource use. By lowering the amount of plastic waste, for instance, we can lower the cost of waste management and recycling, add new jobs to the recycling sector, and increase the wellbeing of wildlife.
Now what are these ways we can create a more sustainable lifestyle?
Let’s start with what we eat. I understand, as a college student, we do not always have the luxury of being picky eaters. However, the wasteful practices associated with food consumption are where food waste multiplies. Meal prepping is not something students are commonly encouraged to do, however the benefits of it not only save the environment, but financially it is a more responsible option. Planning meals at the beginning of the week, properly storing them, and consuming leftovers will help you avoid food and financial waste, creating more sustainable habits. College students can save money on groceries, lower methane emissions from landfills, and preserve natural resources by decreasing food waste.
There are also numerous organizations that help to fight food waste, such as Sharing Excess and Too Good To Go. Sharing Excess is a nonprofit that helps redistribute food that otherwise would be wasted from grocery stores, and restaurants, helping fight food hunger and food waste all at once. Too Good To Go is a fantastic option for college students; it is an app that allows you to explore different restaurants and stores in your local area and pick up surplus meals or produce that they have left over. The stores create surprise bags and meals, gamifying the experience of food rescuing. They offer meals at an incomparable deal, averaging $3-5 per meal/surprise bag of goods. For college students, the convenience of the restaurants being nearby, and the unbeatable price that’s typically lower than a latte, make this a great option to fight food waste in our environment.
The next simple yet cost effective choice college students can make to lower their “eco-imprint” is using reusable products. Refillable water bottles, reusable bags, and reusable household items are just a few examples of ways college students can save money while also having a positive impact. Filtered water stations are offered conveniently at most universities; by investing in a reusable water bottle, not only will you save money by reducing the amount of individually bottled beverages you purchase, but you can help reduce the excess plastic waste that threatens our environment. As society makes strides towards social problems, most convenience and grocery stores now charge for plastic or paper bags at checkout. To save the extra change you may be forced to spend, invest in a reusable tote bag to carry around your groceries or any purchased items. Reusable household items are also becoming more mainstream and accessible. Purchasing a spray bottle that is refillable and implementing the use of soap in the form of tablets can be a more sustainable option. The tablets just need water to refill, so rather than buying cleaning supplies repeatedly, you can save money and waste by refilling your soap at home using one of these services. A favorite of mine that I would recommend is Grove, a company that offers sustainable household items that are refillable and cost-efficient.
Utilities are a financial burden for anyone, whether it be your water or electric bill, these costs are fluctuating and expensive. One of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by reducing your electric usage and water usage. This does not have to be a dramatic lifestyle change; it can be as simple as making sure all lights are turned off when leaving a room or making sure you do not let your water run longer than needed. These practices will bring your cost of living down and ease the excess amount of carbon produced by electrical use. Consider these practices as a daily habit and you will not only notice a decrease in your utility cost, but a decrease in the negative impacts electric and water waste can have on our ecosystems.
College students play a vital role in promoting sustainable practices and protecting the environment. They may lessen their influence on the environment, save money, and advance a more sustainable future by adopting sustainable behaviors. The aforementioned examples are just a few of the numerous sustainable behaviors that college students can incorporate into their daily lives and in turn, significantly impact the globe and build a more sustainable future for everyone by banding together.