Broke College Student Guide to Being Ecofriendly
Green living can seem pretty unachievable when you’re making minimum wage at your part-time job. It seems even more unachievable when your weekly schedule is as full as a fat kid on Thanksgiving. Or a vegan in a garden. Or...anyway, you get the picture.
BUT! Don’t accept defeat just yet. You can still protect the environment when you’re short on both time AND money.
Recycling is probably the easiest thing we can do, at least on the consumer end of things. For some, this may not be (or seem) like it’s that easy or convenient depending on how common recycling bins are in your area. While plenty of areas still struggle with well-organized and efficient recycling systems, many college campuses have at least some level of recycling that you can take advantage of.
Location, location, location
Next time you’re on campus pretend to be Dora the Explorer and scope out where recycling bins are located at your school.
Know your stuff
Make a mental note of what can be recycled, since not all schools are hooked up with every type of recycling. This can be regional so just do some quick googling about it.
Schedule it in...sort of
Make a quasi-schedule to recycle around (e.g. that glass bin you see between your morning classes? Now would be a good time to start taking advantage of that), and before ya know it recycling will be as easy as sleepwalking.
BUT because recycling isn’t an endgame solution, also keep this in mind:
Recycle & Reuse
Recycle what plastic and paper you think is necessary based on your lifestyle, but try to replace some of your key plastic purchases with reusable shit.
If you don’t know where to start with decreasing your plastic footprint, we’ve got your back.
Giving up is for wimps
Ignore the naysayers and do what you can!
Oh, the beloved debate about the most sustainable method of transportation. The debate gets even more heated if you live in a country/city/town that wasn’t built with convenient or sustainable transit in mind (meaning you have to drive basically everywhere.)
But since we already covered that giving up straight out the gate is for losers, we’ve all still got a few options for alternatives to driving everywhere all the damn time (or at least to school every day.)
If you’re not quite ready to give up vehicles, here are a couple of options:
Oh yes, the dreaded carpooling that’s been the butt of sitcom jokes for well over a decade. Scared to do it? Make a carpool group with people you know and love (or at least like) so when they get on your nerves, you can at least still be around each other.
As a bonus (or a selling point), this reduces each individual’s gas bill since you’re taking turns using each other's cars. Goodbye overpriced oil guzzling, hello an extra bottle of beer on Friday night.
Use public transit
If your school has convenient (and inexpensive) public transport, use it.
Some schools have surprising public transit that you can take advantage of. Case in point: The University of Utah has the TRAX, despite the rest of Salt Lake City not really having much as far as public transportation goes.
If you ARE ready to give up vehicles (to some degree at least), you can try these out:
Walk the walk
If you live close to campus (or far - hey, maybe you’re a big fan of walking, idk!) you can walk to classes instead of drive. Isn’t it a bitch to find parking anyway?
This is also a nice option if you’re too broke to afford gas (been there, done that.)
If you got places to go and people to see, using a bike may be more your style since they’re a bit faster (unless you’re The Flash when you’re walking.)
You know the thing you’re thinking right now about how hard it’s going to be to go from driving everywhere to working out some kind of alternative? DON’T THINK THAT!
There’s no need to quit cold turkey. Wean yourself off of using your car.
Try doing one of these alternative methods once a week for a while, then twice a week, then three times a week...you get the picture.
Experiment with the right option
Also, if you try one of the options and it just isn’t working for you, try out another one and see if the shoe fits.
Paper is historically a HUUUGE part of being a college student. All those books, notebooks, loose leafs put into binders...it takes a lot of trees y’all.
Use Recycled Notebooks
In our Top 3 Ecofriendly Back to School Supplieslist, we pointed out that using recycled notebooksis better than using the run of the mill notebook you’ll find at most stores. It takes 2 to tango after all - we have to recycle AND buy recycled stuff.
Rent textbooks instead of buying them
The more rented textbooks, the fewer the trees needed to make new textbooks for people to buy and keep. Textbooks are expensive AF anyway, so check out sites like Chegg.com, Half.com, and Cengage for cheaper rentals.
Go with tree-free paper
Who said paper can only be made out of trees? Turns out you can make paper out of lots of shit, including bananas.
I know what you’re thinking - “But wait, paper isn't endlessly recyclable so why are you telling me to KEEP USING PAPER?!”
Chill out. We know paper isn’t endlessly recyclable, but the Wild Thoughts Blog is all about achievable sustainability! So maybe going paper-free isn’t for you just yet. But in case it IS, here are some tips for ya:
This is 2018 people! Drop the notebooks and use a laptop like a real millennial for god’s sake.
You don’t have to stop at notetaking - you can download your textbooks too, and it’s typically cheaper to go with an e-copy anyway.
Get a reusable notebook
Because college isn’t complete without partying up, let’s wrap up with these tips, shall we?
BYOC = Bring your own cup instead of demanding one-time plastic cups.
Alternately, you could demand the party throwers reusable cups, but we can’t promise this won’t make a party brawl break out…
If you must use solo cups, rinse and reuse them for beer pong (or your preferred drinking game.)
Make peeps pee in the backyard to save water. They’re probably gonna do it anyway.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Google recycling on your campus to learn the deets if you haven’t already.
Alternately, go with more reusable stuff. It’s cheaper in the long run!
Carpooling, using public transit, walking, or cycling (at least occasionally) are your wallet’s best friends.
Use recycled notebooks or notebooks with tree-free paper, or get a reusable notebook (yes, they exist!)
Don’t forget to rent books since they’re WAAAAY cheaper than buying them. And this way you do your part in making a cyclical economy.
Look, we already admitted that the green premium is a very real thing. But sustainable living is way more than just buying environmentally friendly shit. We can still do our part by adjusting lifestyle habits that don’t take a shit ton of money out of our pockets.
Now go forth with your sustainable self this semester and #protectyourwild.