Today’s Solutions: May 22, 2022

For our college student readers, you might already be tired of people telling you that you are the future of our society. Well, you are, but you don’t need to wait until you’re out in the workforce to make a difference in the world. 

Socially and environmentally conscious behavior can begin today, and there are things you can do while still in school to have a big impact on our climate while saving money at the same time. 

Here are seven tips for sustainable and highly affordable college living. 

Walk or ride your bike to class

You were probably already doing this, so keep at it. It’s the best way to sneak in your exercise between classes, it’s more affordable, and it’s an easy way to socialize while seeing your campus. 

Carry your own reusable water bottle 

Instead of contributing to the already significant environmental buildup of plastic waste with single-use water bottles, carry your own reusable one around campus and keep refilling it at water fountains or fill-up stations. The majority of college campuses have them, so take advantage. 

Recycle your aluminum cans

We’re not saying that they’re beer cans, of course they’re not. They’re, of course, soda cans that you’ve got piling up in your dorm room, so make sure to recycle those. Aluminum is not only the one thing everyone agrees is recyclable, but the carbon footprint of recycling aluminum cans is also actually less than that of making a new one. 

Buy everything second-hand

Instead of getting your clothes or your furniture at Ikea or retail stores, or shopping online, hit up your local Buffalo Exchange or Plato’s Closet for clothes. There’s also the Habitat for Humanity Restore and Facebook Marketplace for furniture. You can also skip the middlemen altogether and organize clothing swaps with your friends. 

Ignore the free giveaways

Colleges are full of promotional marketing giveaways at job fairs and other events where they throw t-shirts and free cups and other promotional items at you. Yes, they’re free, but if you don’t use them then they’re just contributing to the growing waste problem. Help build the culture of sustainability by lowering the demand for these promotional items.

Support solar power

Yes, you are a student and thereby more than likely not a homeowner, but this doesn’t mean you can’t support businesses that use solar or solar advocacy groups. Check out this list of ways to support solar. You can also use a plug-in mini solar system for your rental home that powers electronics and lamps, or you can get a window solar charger for your phone and small electronics. You can use solar-powered string lights too. 

Get involved with climate or green organizations 

There are more than likely a few green organizations at your school that would love to have you, and if there isn’t one in, say, your dorm, then start one. You can also check out The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for resources on climate activism as a college student.

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