The struggling college student is more than just a stereotype; it’s a reality for many students burdened by the high cost of tuition, fees, and books, not to mention living expenses. And while aide may come in the form of scholarships, student loans, and money from mom and pop, still there are plenty of students that have to hold down a job during their time in school just to make ends meet. The ends justify the means, but that doesn’t make the reality of barely scraping by any easier to deal with in the here and now. And for the student concerned about the sorry state of our planet, a lack of funds may make it a lot harder to adopt environmentally sound practices. However, there are plenty of little things you can do to go green during your time on campus that won’t break the bank. Many are free and some will even put money back in your pocket. Here are a few ideas you may want to consider.
One of the best ways to get started is with recycling. Consider it a gateway to green living since it’s where most people begin their journey towards eco-awareness. Although your campus likely has some kind of recycling program in place, with appropriate receptacles posted around the grounds for plastic, aluminum, paper, and glass, there’s nothing to stop you from setting up your own collection in order to do your part and earn a little cash in the process. If there is a local recycling center nearby, simply collect bags of cans and bottles, ask friends to save theirs so you can pick them up, say on a weekly basis, and make frequent trips to the recycling center to drop them off and get paid by the ounce. It’s a great way for any eco-minded student to participate in keeping the planet green.
Of course, even students with little cash to spare are bound to spend here and there. For example, you have to eat. And while you might think that buying items that do less harm to the earth are going to stress your already strained budget, there are ways to get the fresh, organic produce you crave without overspending. You don’t have to go to a fancy, high-end grocery store to find these items if there’s a farmer’s market in your area. Not only can you buy locally-sourced foods and get them at the peak of freshness, but you can often find organic goods that eschew chemical fertilizers and pesticides. In addition, you might be able to haggle a bit, especially if you wait until the market is close to closing. In general, you stand to save over chain store purchases and get healthier fare in the process.
And when it comes to spending money on consumer goods like clothing or decor for your dorm, second-hand is the way to go. Thrift or vintage shops can provide you with cool and kitschy clothing options at a fraction of the price of new, and with a little searching you can always find a few diamonds in the rough at such establishments. And whether you’re looking for a comfy chair or a laptop, refurbished items could be just the ticket. You’ll save some dough and give otherwise discarded items a second life, while also decreasing the demand for new manufacturing. It’s a win-win. Every student, from those in nursing informatics programs to those getting a degree in art history, can take steps to create a better future for our planet. Limited funds only force you to get more creative.