There are countless things you can do to adopt—or maintain—an environmentally friendly lifestyle.
Here are eight ideas to get you started:
1. Be printer friendly
You will use countless sheets of paper as a college student. It takes approximately six percent of a tree to make a ream of paper (500 sheets), and you’ll likely go through several reams a year. Use both sides of printer paper before discarding it, and make a conscious choice to print only those things that are absolutely necessary.
Also, your printer cartridge will last significantly longer if you print in draft form and only print in color for special circumstances.
2. Avoid driving
If you drive to class, you’ll have to battle for a parking space and probably need to purchase a parking pass. Avoid that hassle and help the Earth by walking, biking or using public transportation.
If you live off campus, find someone else who lives near you and buddy up for carpooling.
3. Live in a green space
As you stock up on all your living space necessities, purchase organic window treatments and bedding. Items made from 100 percent organic cotton are grown without pesticides and usually don’t contain additional bleaches, dyes and chemicals.
You may be tempted to buy disposable cups and plates in order to avoid washing dishes, but the additional waste created by these products is both expensive and damaging for the environment. Instead, buy a set of dishes that will last you at least throughout your college career.
Compact fluorescentlights (CFL) are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer thanincandescent bulbs, but it is important that these bulbs are disposed of properly as they contain small amounts of mercury. Light emittingdiodes (LED lights) also last significantly longer than typical incandescent lights.
4. Maximize laundry time
Be mindful of how much water you use when doing laundry. The average conventional washing machine uses 40 gallons of water per cycle, soonly run full loads of laundry. Always use cold water for the rinse cycle. If possible, line dry clothes instead of running a dryer.
5. Buy green
Whenever you have to hit the store, keep the environment in mind. Buy recycled instead of bleached paper. Choose refillable pens and pencils over single-use ones. Use refillable binders instead of notebooks.
Look for environmentally safe cleaning products, which often contain fewer chemicals than commercially produced products. Also, give clothing a second life—and save money—by shopping at a secondhand store.
6. Reuse beverage containers
When you stop at your favorite coffee shop, bring a reusable mug. Cutting back on paper and Styrofoam cups not only helps minimize waste, but it may save you a few cents, too—many shops will give you a small discount if you bring in your own mug.
Investing in a high-quality refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottles on the go will also save you money and needless waste. Americans consume 8.6 billion gallons of bottled water annually, which requires 17 million barrels of oil to be used in the production process. You can help put a dent in that number by purchasing a reusable water bottle.
7. Recycle everything
Most everything you use in your daily life—paper, aluminum cans, newspapers, cardboard boxes—can be recycled. Avoid the temptation to throw something in the garbage because it’s easy to do, and make it a point to separate and recycle everything possible.
Many household and personal items, such as old cell phones, clothing and bedding, can be donated to nonprofit organizations like homeless and animal shelters, which can give the items a second life.
8. Minimize power
When you aren’t using a light or watching the television, turn it off. Keep the heat turned down low in the winter, and avoid the temptation to crank up the air conditioning during the hot months.