How to go green on campus—environmental ideas for college students

Being environmentally responsible even while in college is easier than one might think.

Being environmentally responsible even while in college is easier than one might think.

College life is all about studying, meeting new people, having some fun, figuring out who you are and … recycling? Well, while how to go green on campus may not be what first springs to mind for college students, there are a lot of environmental ideas they can incorporate into their university life. Whether you consider yourself a caped crusader for the environment or not, read on for some simple ways you can make a difference to the planet without breaking the bank.

On the cheap

Think that to go green you have to spend a lot of, well, green? Not so fast. Environmental ideas for college students don’t have to deplete your bank account. Thatcher Michelsen blogs about some inexpensive tips in “Green Ideas For College Students” on the Life is Green blog on October 21, 2013.

You can embrace a more eco-friendly life simply by switching your mode of transportation. Michelsen suggests using a bike for getting around campus. Not only will you save the environment, you will also get the added benefit of doing something good for your health. Bonus! Want to take it to the next level and embrace your inner hippie? You could even do a little container gardening in your dorm or apartment to supplement your meals. Again, better for the planet (how much more local can you get than your own windowsill?) and better for your own well-being than grabbing that burger and fries.

Small, easy steps

Let’s face it, any opportunity to brag to the ‘rents about how responsible you are becoming is a bonus, right? Going green on campus is an easy way to embrace a more grown-up, I’m-responsible-for-myself-and-this-world vibe. Isabella Roden wrote on July 25, 2012, for the article “Everyday Environmentalist” with some easy, simple ideas any college student can incorporate into their day-to-day campus life:

  • Take shorter showers. Sure you want to be clean, but do you have to be THAT clean? Cut your shower time by two minutes and the planet (and your roommates) will thank you.
  • Clean your plate. Now this doesn’t mean overeat, simply that you not put more on your plate than you can eat, so that at the end of the meal you aren’t throwing food away.
  • Install energy-efficient bulbs. You’ve got a desk lamp, right? Take one small step for the environment and be sure to use a compact fluorescent bulb.

Take it to the next level

So you’ve incorporated the easy and inexpensive environmental ideas for how to go green on campus and you are ready for the advanced class. Many colleges have jumped on the bandwagon by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, using alternative forms of energy (such as geothermal) or creating waste-free, energy-neutral student residences. Even if your school isn’t the greenest out there, Zach Miners wrote on January 28, 2010, for U.S. News & World Report 5 Unique Ways to Go Green if You’re Living in a Dorm” with some suggestions you can incorporate into your life:

  1. Search out Energy Star rated lamps, computers, printers, microwaves and mini fridges.
  2. Buy eco-friendly bath and cleaning products.
  3. Don’t dump your old stuff at the end of the year—sell it on eBay or Craigslist.
  4. Use real dishes and towels instead of paper items for eating in the dorm.
  5. Switch to cold water for your laundry and hang items to air-dry.
  6. And of course, recycle everything you can.

Apparently it IS easy being green if you follow these environmental ideas. Leave your thoughts and suggestions for how others can embrace a “reduce, reuse, recycle” aesthetic on campus in the comments below.

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