Getting Ready For College? Time To Get More Sustainable!

If you're finishing up at high school, consider these tips to help you ensure your college experience is a bit kinder to the world we live in. 
Blog by contributor, Kacey Mya. 
As a high school student, it's not exactly easy to live sustainably. After all, you can only make so many decisions when you live at home. Fortunately, when it's time to leave for college, you have an opportunity to consider more informed, eco-friendly choices. If you want to take a greener approach, there's a ton of ways to start.

Take a look at these simple and easy tips.

1. Prioritize a Package-Free, Plant-Focused Diet

As a first-year college student, you'll likely have a meal plan, so you won't need to shop for groceries. That said, when you want to eat at a restaurant, you should think twice about your choices. Every time we order food delivery or swing by McDonald's, we  contribute to the massive piles of plastic that flood our land and oceans (consider that humanity's created 9.2 billion tons of plastic, and 6.9 billion tons of that has become waste, with 6.3 billion tons never even making it to recycling!). It's essential to pick sustainable options whenever possible.
Going plant-based is this single biggest change you can make to reduce your impact on the planet, so whether you're eating out or staying in, opt for vegetarian or vegan options whenever possible. In any case, try not to eat out too often — for the planet, your health and your wallet.

2. Buy a Water Bottle


Tap water in most US cities is safe to drink, and approximately 30% of comes from municipal tap water systems. Rather than buying bottled water, which results in immense plastic waste (globally, we buy 1 million plastic bottles a minute!), opt for a reusable bottle and use tap water instead. If you're concerned about pollutants in the water, conduct research on the area where you live and invest in a water filter. If you buy one aluminium/ metal bottle, it can last you a lifetime, and you don't risk plastic particles entering the water you drink. Reusable bottles also provide a lot of convenience and you'll always have water on hand to keep you hydrated. 

3. Leave Your Car at Home

If your university allows first-year students to take their cars to school, consider the cons beforehand. You can easily navigate any campus without personal transportation — a 10-minute walk to class provides a great opportunity for exercise, meditation or entertainment (pop a podcast in your ears!), hop on a bike or use public transportation. 

Vehicles create vast amounts of carbon emissions, which cause pollution. If everyone drove their car around town, traffic would increase, too. Additionally, you can save money and avoid repairs when you leave your car at home. Did you know the average student spends up to $17,600 on living expenses every year? By reducing those costs, your freshman year can be a lot more carefree.

4. Choose Reusable Bags

Whenever you head to the grocery store or make a Target run, bring along reusable bags. This way, you won't need to worry about how to recycle the plastic ones. When you don't remember to take your bags, look for paper alternatives at the checkout counter. Most stores offer cheap reusable bags, as well, so you can always purchase one if needed. You can try a backpack if you have to walk a far distance — either way, the fewer items, the better.

5. Donate Your Old Items


Before you relocate to your dorm or apartment, you'll need to go through a ton of stuff. Unfortunately, you can't take each shirt and every shoe, so create a donation pile as you pack. Then, when you move into another place at the end of the semester, you can donate more items. This way, you give back to the local community and make a smarter, sustainable choice. When you head home for the summer, you won't return to a room full of your old stuff.

Heading to college is the beginning of a brand new chapter in your life. With these lifestyle changes, you can make it one to be proud of.  

By Kacey Mya
Posted by Kelly Harding on Jun 5, 2020 1:18 PM America/Chicago

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