Hey there, I’m Blaire. I have both a B.S. in Hospitality and Tourism Management from the University of North Texas and a M.S. in International Sustainable Tourism (MIST) also from UNT in conjunction with C.A.T.I.E. in Turrialba, Costa Rica. I spent my final year of Grad School living, studying, and travelling around the beautiful country of Costa Rica taking in the Spanish language and culture. I am an avid reader, sustainability enthusiast, and I definitely have a severe case of wanderlust. My college experience was characterized by awkward encounters, lots of studying, Greek Life, and random dance parties with my friends.
I’ve been there. College student with limited funds and a green heart, just hoping to make some small difference.
At first glance, a sustainable lifestyle seems to be an expensive one, especially through the eyes of a college student. You’re thinking, “All those organic and natural products are so expensive! There’s no way I can afford that.” And I will not deny that this can be true when it comes to solar panels and such. But there is much more to living a sustainable lifestyle than implementing solar power and buying expensive organic products.
First things first, what does the word “sustainable” really mean? In layman’s terms, sustainability is finding that perfect balance of environmental, cultural, and economic aspects of a community. The goal is to create a lifestyle that can be sustained with as little negative impact as possible. Here are just a few tips and tricks to help you and your friends go green on a budget.
1. Recycle. It’s simple. And fortunately, if you live in the dorms, most universities already have a program in place. All you have to do is use it. If there is no recycling program, suggest one. I got my parents to start recycling and composting by making them aware that recycling can reduce your waste by almost 50%! Take it upon yourself to Google the local recycling facility and find a drop-off location.
2. Shop locally. Supporting local businesses helps to build a stronger community. The simple act of doing your weekly shopping in locally owned stores creates jobs and strengthens the local economy.
3. Buy organic. I know, I know, much of the organic products in stores seems to be more expensive. So instead check out your local farmers market or find a local farm to purchase produce from. More often than not, purchasing produce from local farms is cheaper and healthier for your bodies.
4. Unplug. Running up your electricity bill? Many people are unaware that chargers, appliances, printers, etc. that are left plugged in, even when not in use, still use electricity. So that iPhone charger you leave next to your bed for convenience is wasting energy and spending your precious grocery money. Unplug chargers when not in use and be sure to unplug appliances and TVs before you head home for the holidays.
5. Water Usage. On a similar note, try to watch your shower length. According to Home Water Works, the average person showers for 8 minutes and uses as many as 17 gallons of water. Do the math and that comes to over 6,000 gallons of water down the drain in just one year. For ONE PERSON! Add in washing dishes and doing laundry and your water usage skyrockets, not to mention the number on your water bill.
6. Shop smart. Finally, while shopping, seek out products with certifications such as Energy Star, Fair Trade, and Rainforest Alliance. This ensures that the products you purchase meet sustainable requirements regarding energy or fair wages for farmers. Buy the energy saving light bulbs. I know they are more expensive, but they are proven to last longer and save energy, so the initial cost is definitely worth it.
These are just a few of many tips and tricks to help you get started down your green living path. Small efforts such as these are easy to implement and will make a lasting difference in your college community and around the world. Even if you just did one thing from this list I would be happy. To some this may not seem like a very important lifestyle change, but if you’ve ever Googled issues such as Climate Change or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch I think you would change your mind. Sustainability is a worldwide issue, and we as individuals need to do our part just as much as the government and large corporations.
Work these into your daily habits and help yourself live a healthier life and save a little money while you save the world. One college student at a time.
“In a gentle way you can shake the world.” –Mahatma Ghandi