College is an excellent time to express your individuality, chase your dreams, and accomplish incredible things. While this phase of life is centered on learning and new experiences, self-growth and making an impact that will last a lifetime is equally important, which includes taking steps to live more sustainably.
Embracing a low-waste lifestyle can lower your carbon footprint and helps cut down financial expenses, which is critical for a college student. After you've established a few new waste-reduction practices, it will become part of everyday life and feel more natural as time goes on.
The majority of college students may not have the funds to make significant lifestyle modifications. However, there are ample measures you can take to strive for a zero-waste lifestyle regardless of a shoestring budget, dormitory life, or tiny rooms with multiple roommates. Every action, no matter how small, counts. Even seemingly insignificant actions like switching to sustainable canvas backpacks or using reusable straws can make a notable difference.
Why is sustainable college lifestyle important?
The most urgent issue of our time is the fight to stop climate change, and a big part of it is lowering our carbon emissions and living sustainably. So, what exactly does living sustainably entail?
A sustainable way of life involves producing less waste and garbage. It calls for changing how we purchase and consume clothing items, food, and even devices. These minor adjustments can help college students live in more sustainably and environmentally friendly.
One of the best ways to step into your sustainability efforts is to purchase fewer products overall and reuse the items you currently have. Other steps to consider are opting for used school supplies, sustainable products made of natural fibers like organic cotton backpacks (as opposed to backpacks made with polyester), and recycling or donating the items you no longer need.
Here are five tips for college students to live more sustainably:
- Take eNotes
Take full advantage of technology. Consider all the activities you could perform without paper by utilizing your phone, tablet, or laptop. Switch out your paper notebooks or sticky notes for their digital equivalents on your devices. Taking digital notes is easy and accessible anytime, especially if you save them on iCloud, Google Drive, or Onedrive. It is the most practical, efficient, and sustainable way to store information.
- Use Recycled Notebooks/ School Supplies
If digital notes don't sit well with you, consider purchasing a notebook made with recycled materials. The use of paper products in the United States has increased by 126% in the last 20 years, from 92 million to 208 million tonnes today. This means the number of trees we are taking down is also increasing. Forests are crucial for absorbing atmospheric CO2 and cooling the planet. By purchasing recycled material notebooks, you can contribute to the preservation of forests and emission reduction. Likewise, apply the same method for other school supplies– reusable bottles, cups, straws, thrifted clothes, donated/used books, etc.
- Reduce The Use of Plastic
Plastic is a champion of municipal garbage in the United States. We are considered the world's top producer of plastic waste, with an average American producing about 130 kg of plastic waste annually. Single-use plastic items require massive energy, not forgetting hazardous substances like benzene and vinyl hydrochloride. We can help reduce the 8 million metric tonnes of plastic garbage drifting from 192 coastal nations in the U.S. into the oceans every year by ditching plastic campus supplies.
Related blog: What are microplastics?
- Discard Waste Properly
Recycling is the simplest approach to combat climate change. It may seem challenging at first, but the key is to make sure you recycle or donate as much as possible whenever you throw something out. Start with simple steps such as cooking together for every member if you share a space with friends. Your timings may not always sync, but when they do, opt for cooking one meal at a go rather than separate meals. This will save energy and lessen the trash from kitchen bins or takeaway containers.
Related blog: A Quick Guide to Plastics Labeling
- Petition for your school to take greener steps
Your school's commitment to make changes and opting for greener things will help you and your fellow schoolmates. Here are just a few things you can ask your school to commit to if they haven't done already:
- Make use of solar panels. Schools use a lot of electricity and wouldn't it be nice if the source of that electricity was clean.
- Support nearby farms. The cafeteria in your school can source food from nearby farms and even work with them to offer classes to students who want to learn about agriculture.
- Install proper recycling bins. Instead of having one recycling bin for everything, your school can install separate recycling bins to sort out the recyclables (paper, plastic, metal and so on).
- Install water stations throughout the schools. This will encourage students to bring their water bottles.
- Plant trees and, if possible, fruit trees around the school.
- Offer environmental studies classes.
Related blog: How to make your School Green this year
As a young empowering college student, you can contribute to the welfare of the planet by adopting a low-waste lifestyle. We must all unite if we want a healthy and thriving world for future generations. The window to keep the global temperature under 1.5 degrees Celsius is cutting close— roughly 11 years left. Enjoying a sustainable lifestyle by making minor adjustments to your daily routine can greatly impact combating climate change.