The College Student: A Guide To An Eco-Friendly, Cost-Effective College Experience

College is something many of us encounter, and the routine of a student is one that we usually rightly stereotype. Books, papers, and endless amounts of time on the computer are trends we know and see. To anybody with the environment on their mind, that translates into consumption, consumption, consumption.

Get the best green living content straight to your inbox

We ♥ your privacy.

Like Organic Soul on Facebook

So, are all college bound individuals destined to wreak havoc on the worlds around them? Hopefully, no. And it is the intent of this article to prove otherwise. Let’s look at some common areas that, when replaced or altered, can save some green, both for the world and for your pocket.

1. Driving To Class

Every college has a high number of commuters, which means a high number of car pollutants as a result. Averaging between passenger vehicles and light trucks, each car releases about 14,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Simply calculate the number of drivers at a college near you, multiple, and prepare for shock.

The solution lies in taking public transportation, carpooling, biking, skateboarding, and/or walking. Truth is, many students only drive for convenience. Okay, so it is more convenient, but if you’re interested reducing your carbon footprint by a large degree, this is a good place to start.

If anything, make some friends in class and try to get carpooling setup. For me, I carpooled with a coworker both to work and school (lucky, I know) and we alternated days when possible.

Ride-sharing splits or saves money for gas and parking, self-power transit is clearly cheaper (and you get a work out), and public transportation can save you up to $9000 annually.

2. Taking Notes And Writing Papers

If you’ve taken college courses, you know of the dreaded note taking process. If you haven’t, consider yourself warned. Moving year to year, notebook upon notebook will be filled and you’ll soon begin to wonder if it’s possible to use the leftovers for anything besides acts of juvenile arson. Likewise, your prewriting, drafts, revisions, and final products of papers will also begin to stack up, suffocating the space of your room in a similar fashion to your notebooks. Here, the answer is simple.

Recycle: and I mean this in two ways. The first is to use recycled paper for notebooks. Environotes, a product of Roaring Spring Paper Products, is a great source. The products are high-quality and competitively priced in comparison to other brands.

Secondly, much of the paperweight generated by college can and should be recycled. Unless you’re clingy to your work (I’m sometimes guilty of this), just toss it into the blue bin. Something I’ve incorporated into my work-space is a small bin for recycling next to my regular waste basket. Otherwise, it can be tempting to toss paper into the trash.

3. Books

Also known as another one of the 10 plagues of college, books accumulate quickly and become useless after said class is finished. At the same time, however, it’s often hard to get rid of them with genuine indifference.

There are three simple solutions: first, keep them. While such a thought would be radical indeed, if you are studying what you enjoy, you should have an incentive to keep the books anyways. Personally, I’ve acquired a vast library of books I see useful for the future.

Next, donate them. Tons of programs and organizations allow us to place our knowledge in another’s hands. Try donating to schools, rehabilitation centers, and libraries. Some programs – like New England’s Got Books? – will come right to you and pick up your unwanted literature. Others make it is easy to ship in, and there is even one program that gives you points when you send them books, which can thereafter be redeemed for books you want (!

Third, sell them back to your bookstore or to others online. Usually, this is the most sought after way of getting rid of books because it puts money back into one’s pocket. If this is your prerogative, go for it. It’s an excellent way of recycling your books and making someone’s day. Anyone interested should check out,, or any sites of such nature.

4. Time On The Computer

This is also huge in college. In fact, some classes are now 100 percent online, others are “hybrid” (half-and-half), and even some traditional courses make you submit your paper to the web. The first solution is doing more work off the computer, and the next are changes in your overall electricity usage.

Switching to fluorescent light bulbs is a simple way to cut down electricity use. Another way is turning off lights, TVs, and even unplugging energy sucking appliances when you don’t need them. Finally, for those of you in hot areas, try cooling the house with AC at night, insulate properly to keep the cool in and hot out, and give your system a break during peak hours: good for the environment, and good for your budget.

Such techniques are a perfect segue into the final area.

5. College Living ConditionsPin It

Similar to the solutions above, try making some overarching changes to your lifestyle. It’s tempting to be wasteful, especially at parties, but having a recycle bin out actually garners a lot attention – everyone loves those who are aware. If you employ many of the above techniques, you’ll pretty much be covering everything in college because notes, papers, books, and computer time will be your life (sorry to ruin the surprise!).

So, with “back in school” season right around the corner, encourage yourself along with your roomies to cut back on consumption, save some dough, and relish in the benefits.

Write For Us!

What Do You Think? Share Your Comments Below