6 Tips for Living More Sustainably as a College Student

The ultimate goal of most people pursuing sustainable living is a zero-waste lifestyle, but is it realistic? As long as we need oil and its derivatives, it’s impossible. So, there is no need to be a perfectionist about it. Yet, it doesn’t mean that our current efforts are senseless. Even small steps are meaningful.

Suppose you can’t afford to buy only eco-friendly products regularly. Some of them are really pricey and less convenient to use. If you are a student, there are even fewer opportunities to purchase sustainable products on a student budget. There may be an issue with recycling, too. For instance, life in a dorm doesn’t always allow for storing recyclables due to limited space. However, where there is a will, there is a way! So, let’s go through the tips you can use to make those small steps!

Submit Digital Versions of Your Papers Whenever Possible

Some of your old-school teachers may adore print-outs of numerous drafts as well as leaving their feedback on the pages, but it’s time you change it. First of all, it must be horrible to address the comments on your essay by going page by page and trying to distinguish weird handwriting.

Of course, you can send a ‘write me a essay’ request to a professional and leave all those sufferings to them, but you will still have to scan or take photos of those print-outs to pass them to the writer.

Besides turning into a pile of garbage at the end of the term, numerous pages you could actually read in a digital format are a waste of natural resources – trees. Sure, you can send all that paper to a recycling station later, but the easiest way is to not use it at all when there are better alternatives.

So, do insist on submitting only e-versions of your assignments. When trying to convince your teacher, refer to the sustainable use of resources so that they get invested in this issue, too. To be more reassuring, remind them that it’s easier to grade papers in e-format due to the instant search and so on. Maybe they are not interested in environmental issues but they must value their time and effort.

Review Your Kitchen Utensils and Other Items

Start with those you use to pack your lunch when going to classes. Do you pack sandwiches in single-use plastic wrap? Even if you’re into recycling, it’s barely possible to wash that wrap, and it’s really tedious! So, simplify your life by switching to beeswax wraps and food containers. Both can serve you for years and save you money and when the time comes, just recycle the container or dispose of the wrap.

Using food containers and lunch boxes is also a great way to store foods and preserve their freshness in the fridge in comparison to plastic bags. And when it comes to reusable items you might need throughout the day, there are other utensils to think of:

  • water bottle
  • straw
  • cutlery

Also, did you know that single-use ‘paper’ cups actually have a plastic layer inside? So, if you are a fan of tea or coffee (and as a student, you are bound to be one), get yourself a cup made of bamboo. It’s lightweight, so you can carry it around without even noticing it. Moreover, some coffee shops have discounts for visitors with their own cups!

Be Selective About New Purchases

Fast fashion is one of the enemies environmental activists have been fighting recently. The number of clothes people dump in landfills poses a great environmental threat because of the cheap materials used in manufacturing. So, choose wisely. There are a number of sustainable clothes brands one can afford on a student budget:

  • Reformation
  • Everlane
  • Quince
  • Outdoor Voices
  • Brook There
  • Made Trade, etc.

What concerns other purchases, always ask yourself whether you really need this or that item. There is always a chance you’re going to need it just once or twice in your life. So, instead of getting yourself one, just borrow it from someone. For instance, if you need a book, look for it in a library or at a bookcrossing station before deciding to buy a new one. It will save you from accumulating unnecessary stuff, save your money, and eventually prevent another item from ending up in trash.

…And What You Dispose of

The thing you don’t use doesn’t have to end up in a landfill. If you live in a dorm, there is a high chance someone will need what you haven’t touched in years. Or, be creative: you might not have a glass for a toothbrush, but maybe there is a beautiful empty plant pot collecting dust in a corner? There are a number of ways to reuse most of the stuff you forgot about. Finally, you can upcycle it or even use it to make a piece of artwork!

Choose Sustainable Mouse and Keyboard Models

Hardware that runs on batteries is bad hardware. Even though batteries can be recycled, it’s a long and resourceful process. Besides, some electronics models drain batteries quite fast, which is also pricey. Yet, it doesn’t mean that you must use only wired keyboard and mouse. There are plenty of models that can be simply recharged via a USB cable while being connected through Bluetooth. The only thing to take care of is to make sure that the charging port is located in a way that doesn’t obstruct using the item while it’s being charged.

Support On-Campus Initiatives

Each and every learning institution has groups of people who promote sustainable waste treatment or related initiatives. For instance, they may compose petitions for setting up recycling stations on campus or organize flea markets so that it becomes easier to find some rare stuff without having to purchase it. In case you can’t be that proactive, at least try to use the products of their effort and show that those are important.


To sum up, even for students, it’s not that hard to follow a sustainable lifestyle. Sure, there may be a lot of limitations, but still, focus on what you can actually change. Be mindful of your purchases and how you can use the stuff you already have. Every action is meaningful!

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