Wednesday, June 12, 2024

10 Green Living Tips for College Students

Going green has never been easier.

Green living (and saving money in the process) is easier to do than you’d expect. Simply bringing your own reusable shopping bag or thrift store shopping gets you one foot in the door. 

Is the sustainable lifestyle calling to you? Here are 10 of the best ways to become part of the green living initiative as a college student. 🍃

1. Go Thrift Shopping 🛍️

A female college student practicing green living checks out a denim jacket while thrift shopping
Shop off-season and go through different racks to find one-of-a-kind pieces, but try to stick to durable brands. Photo: Freepik

Thrift shopping is the ultimate green living triple threat: it reduces landfill waste, extends the clothes’ lifecycle, and helps shrink the damage fast fashion brings, like its high production of clothes that barely get worn before being discarded. 😬

TIP: Wear comfy, form-fitting clothes so you can easily try on garments when thrift shopping, as the store may not have a fitting room.

Explore local thrift shops like Goodwill or online markets selling secondhand goods (choose the ones with the public’s stamp of approval). You can also donate instead of being a customer, but make sure your unwanted stuff is still in good condition. 

2. Reduce Energy Use ⚡

A male college student controls the energy efficiency of his appliances using a smart app
Some appliances have energy-efficient features you can control from your phone to make green living easier. Photo: Freepik

An easy way to kickstart green living is to take advantage of windows and use light-colored curtains or blinds to maximize natural light. Energy-efficient lightbulbs like compact fluorescent lamps and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are perfect for when it’s dark.💡

Switching lights off and unplugging appliances or devices when not in use is also a great energy-saving and eco-friendly habit. You can even invest in a power strip to turn off multiple devices at once.

TIP: When purchasing electronics, look for energy-saving features or certifications like Energy Star. Having this means that the company prioritizes sustainability in its manufacturing process.

3. Embrace Digital Documents 💻

A smiling female college student wearing headphones while checking notes in her laptop outdoors
Laptops are multipurpose, portable, and generally energy-efficient compared to desktop computers, keeping you productive wherever you go. Photo: drobotdean/Freepik

One pine tree produces around 80,000 sheets of paper, so downloading e-books and taking notes digitally can help save the trees. Instead of becoming pages of your notebook, more trees can do a better job for the environment, such as purifying the air and preventing soil erosion.

Practice green living with note-taking tools like Google Docs, OneNote, or EverNote and online storage apps like Google Drive, OneDrive, or DropBox. Plus, you’ll never worry about losing your notes. 🤩

4. Opt for Reusable Containers 🥤

A smiling male Asian college student carrying his backpack, reusable coffee cup, and folders on the way to class
Reusable containers and utensils may be expensive but they’re durable and long-lasting. Photo: Freepik

Did you know that coffee runs can give you a chance to practice green living? Some cafes ask if you brought tumblers or insulated mugs to reduce the need for disposable straws and cups that harm the sea and marine animals. 🐢

Good to know: Coffee chains like Starbucks offer customers a 10-cent discount and 25 bonus stars for Rewards members who bring personal cups. You can inquire if similar promos are offered in your local coffee shops. 

Invest in durable water bottles and thermal coffee cups that will last for years. While you’re at it, carry reusable shopping bags, utensils, and containers you can use both on and off campus to minimize your use of disposable plastics. 

5. Participate in an Eco-Friendly Campus Program 🍃

A group of green living college student volunteers collect donations of used clothes and shoes
Surround yourself with like-minded green living advocates to help you ease into a sustainable routine. Photo: Freepik

Reduce, reuse, recycle — these three words capture the essence of green living that eco-friendly clubs and college initiatives promote. Joining tree-planting activities for fun or enrolling in sustainability-focused degree programs are a couple of ways to show dedication. 

However, simple practices like cleaning as you go, advocating for renewable energy, and participating in recycling drives are good contributions. 🙌

READ MORE: 8 Ways College Students Can Shrink Their Carbon Footprint

6. Support Local and Organic Food Options 🍅

A couple of female college students placing fruits in an eco-bag at a local farmers' market
Easy green living tips: buy or make your own reusable or biodegradable eco-bags to shop for local produce and other items. Photo: Freepik

There’s nothing like easy and healthy meals to get you in tip-top shape for your demanding class requirements. Buy from local organic sellers, and your food will be fresher and less processed, as they don’t travel long distances or require extended storage lives. 

Instead of supermarket trips, you can shop at local farmers’ markets or join a campus co-op. Many colleges also offer meal plans, including organic options, so go for these when available. 🛒

7. Minimize Meat Consumption 🥩

A couple of college students eating salad and fruits as part of their green living practices
Dedicate at least one day a week or at least one meal a day to eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Photo: Freepik

Speaking of buying local and organic, did you know that minimizing meat consumption can lessen your environmental impact? That’s because the meat production process requires a lot of resources. 

Meatless Monday” is a common practice on campuses, like the University of Colorado Boulder, as part of their sustainability initiatives. You’ll find more vegan and vegetarian options on that day, contributing to the good health of the environment and your body. 💪

READ MORE: 12 Top Tips for Busy College Students to Stay Fit

8. Use Public Transport or Carpool 🚌

A female college student wearing headphones checks her phone while riding the bus to university
You can use your time riding the bus to review for your upcoming quiz or catch up on some light work on your phone. Photo: Freepik

Driving can be fun and convenient, but it also comes with headaches: gas money, expensive maintenance, and limited parking. Ditch the car in favor of public transportation or carpooling to reduce carbon emissions and other harmful effects of congested traffic on the environment. 

College students typically get discounted fares or free passes on public transportation, like at the University of Southern California. Otherwise, take advantage of campus shuttles, local buses, or carpool with friends. Better yet, bike or walk for fitness. 🚶

9. Sell and Donate Used Items 📦

A male college student tapes boxes filled with his things for donation as part of green living practices
Schedule a time to declutter your dorm or apartment for things you don’t use and store them in a box that’s ready to go for donation or sale. Photo: Freepik

Fashion trends and school semesters come and go, but used clothes and textbooks are forever. Instead of having them collect dust in your room, you can sell them on your campus marketplace or online platforms like eBay.💲

If you’d rather give away your things for free, find donation drives for people in need or sign up for nonprofits like The Freecycle Network. Just make sure they’re clean and usable. 

10. Conserve Water 💧

A male college student turns on the faucet to wash his hands in the shared bathroom for men
Turn off the faucet when not in use to help conserve water. Photo: Freepik

It can be hard to imagine a life without water…until you experience water service interruptions after a sweaty workout. While you may not live where droughts regularly occur, managing your water usage is still wise to help keep bills at a minimum. 

Here are easy ways to do it: turn off the tap while brushing teeth or washing the dishes, collect rainwater for plants, and report leaks to your landlord or campus maintenance. 🚰


Green living doesn’t mean that you have to go vegan or change how you live right away. It’s all about making sustainable practices, one simple action at a time. 🌱

Green Living Tips for College Students: Frequently Asked Questions

What is green living?

Green living involves adopting daily practices and making choices that minimize environmental impact. This includes reducing waste, conserving natural resources, and supporting sustainable technologies.

What does zero-waste mean?

How to maintain green living as a busy college student?

What are sustainable transportation options for students?

Are there eco-friendly colleges in the US?

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