With Earth Day this upcoming Sunday now is a great time to reflect on our relationship with mother Earth. As college students, it can be hard to think of ways that we can go green that are affordable and are within our control.

Going green not only can help save the environment but can also help save you green ($). So here are some choices you can make a habit in your college life to be more eco-friendly and potentially save money:

1. Use reusable grocery bags.

Americans throw away over 100 billion plastic grocery bags every year. (Don’t Be Trashy, Reduce Your Waste!) To help combat this, you can take your own reusable bags with you to the grocery store. In addition to reducing the use of plastic, I like to use the reusable bags because they are stronger and help me to limit my shopping habits because I only buy what will fit in the bags.

2. Create a shopping list before leaving home so you avoid the impulse to buy more than you need (and to stay in budget).

3. Buy in bulk to save money and reduce packaging needs.

4. To save your wallet and the environment, use a refillable water bottle instead of bottled water.

If you don’t like drinking straight tap water, consider investing in a water pitcher with filters.

5. Brew coffee at home and use a refillable mug.

But if you bring your coffee mug with you, you can even ask many of your favorite coffee shops to put your coffee in your mug instead of a paper cup!

6. Use a reusable bag and reusable containers like Tupperware to pack your lunch instead of plastic or paper bags.

7. Don't use plastic straws.


Plastic straws are in the top ten of litter items found on International Coastal Cleanup Day. Check out the Last Plastic Straw movement to learn more about how plastic straws harm the environment, especially our oceans!

8. Buy locally grown food.

You can help support farmers and the local economy by buying locally grown food that is usually more fresh and cheaper! By limiting the distance needed to transport food, less fuel is used so you can also help to cut down on greenhouse gases.

9. Go meatless on Mondays.

Since the meat industry emits ⅕ of all greenhouse gases, then reducing the demand for meat will also reduce the production of these gases.

10. Go paperless!

Try having all of your bills and receipts sent to you electronically. You can also try to reduce your paper usage by using e-tickets and e-docs. If your professors allow you, consider taking notes and creating flash cards electronically. In addition to not having to buy notebooks or flashcards, you will be assured that you will never lose them and can access them anywhere!

11. Reuse school supplies.

If you can’t go paperless, be sure to reuse your notebooks for all remaining paper and use both sides of papers whenever possible.

12. Cut your shower time and try to use less heated water by taking warm showers instead of hot ones.

By shortening your shower for 1-2 minutes, you can save up to 150 gallons of water a month. I recommend making a shower playlist to help you keep track of how long you spend in the shower.

13. When washing your clothes, only wash full loads so that you make the most of your energy consumption.

Since 75% of the energy required to wash laundry goes into heating the water, try to use less heated water by washing clothes with cold water (which has been known to be better for helping clothes colors and shape last longer).

14. Reduce your energy consumption by turning off and unplugging things that consume energy when not in use.

As always, be sure to turn off lights when not in the room! Don’t leave electronics running longer than necessary, and even unplug them when turned off. Electronics can even use vampire power: power is drawn from outlets when chargers and electronics are left plugged in. Using power strips can prevent this since by disconnecting electronics from the power source then they cannot draw vampire power from the outlets .

15. In addition to reducing your energy consumption, you can take the stairs instead of the elevator to help keep you in shape!

16. In addition to recycling, consider ways that you can reduce your trash and get creative in finding ways to reuse and repurpose your ‘trash’.

On average, Americans create 4.4 pounds of trash every day. Consider joining the zero waste movement and trying to live trash-free!


Hopefully, these will inspire you to re-examine your lifestyle and think of how you can go green and reduce your ecological footprint.

If you want to find out what your ecological footprint is, consider checking with the footprint calculator and then creating a plan to reduce your footprint.

For more information, check out the How to Be Green videos created by UD's Sustainability Activation Program .