Penniless college students can’t necessarily run out and buy a Prius, nor can they plan intricate environmental revolutions with their time-strapped schedules, but there are plenty of inexpensive and small steps students can take to go green. Here are eight ways you can make a difference today:
1. Buy a bike. By investing in a bicycle, you will not only help the environment, but you will also help yourself. With gas prices pinching wallets everywhere, imagine the amount of money saved by pedaling to school and work instead of driving in your gas-guzzling automobile. Not to mention the tip-top shape your calves will be in by the end of summer with all of the cycling you’ll be doing on your new eco-friendly bike.
2. Shop at thrift stores. There are plenty of excellent thrift stores right here in Utah County. By making purchases at these stores, not only are you cutting down on your carbon footprint, but you are also cutting down on costs. Save money and the planet at the same time.
3. Skip bottled water. Drinking water is a healthy choice, but constantly buying and throwing away water bottles is not. According to the Container Recycling Institute, supplying Americans with plastic water bottles for one year consumes more than 47 million gallons of oil. Instead of bottled water, buy a re-useable bottle. It’s as simple as that, folks.
4. Recycle. Recycling has been encouraged since preschool, but how often do we actually do it? There are recycling bins around the school (granted, there could be more), so take advantage of them. Also, consider setting up recycling bins in your house or apartment. All of those empty pizza boxes you have lying around don’t have to end up in a landfill.
5. Buy recycled school supplies. Save some trees. Buy recycled notebooks. And then when you are done, recycle those blasted biology notes at which you will never so much as glance again. Don’t forget that buying used textbooks is also an excellent way to save trees and plenty of cash.
6. Unplug idle electronics. Even if your toaster isn’t currently toasting, it is still sucking energy if plugged in. The same goes with any appliance or charger. With a simple switch or pull of the plug, you can save $200 a year on your electricity bill and a lot of energy that otherwise goes to waste.
7. Stop using plastic bags. You’ve heard this one before. Plenty of times. But it’s so important that I am mentioning it again. Americans throw away approximately 100 billion polyethylene bags per year. Each bag takes approximately 1000 years to break down in a landfill. This is outrageous. Please please please just use reusable bags.
8. Replace your light bulbs. Here’s a bright idea — by replacing a standard incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFLs), you will be using about 75 percent less energy. CFLs also last up to ten times longer. Or you could just go medieval by turning out the lights and lighting a few candles. Talk about romantic!