More than ever, students are leading the charge in promoting sustainable living. Protesting is an effective method of getting the attention of lawmakers, but there are other things you can do to improve the environment outside of a picket line. From volunteering for a local clean-up effort to saying goodbye to single-use plastics, here is a quick guide on how students can incorporate sustainable living practices into their daily routine.

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ready to-go meals in glass containers

Avoid Single-Use Plastics

Going in and out of classes all day can make finding quality food difficult. Purchasing food on the go is a common way to deal with the everyday bustle of student life, but it usually results in large amounts of plastic waste.

Related: How to teach children about climate change

You can avoid contributing to the growing problem of plastic pollution by bringing your own food containers to class. That way, if you need to take the food with you then you have a reusable container on hand. Alternatively, you can also prepare your meals at home, which is better for the environment and your wallet.

For shopping at the grocery store, you should consider investing in reusable bags. If you do not have room in your budget, you can always reuse old bags until they are no longer viable.

Sustainable Dorm Supplies

Purchasing eco-friendly products helps prevent harmful chemicals from entering our oceans and waterways. For the bathroom, look for toilet paper that is made from recycled materials and is bleach-free. You should also avoid body wash that contains microbeads, as they often pass through treatment plants unfiltered and end up in the water supply.

When it comes to cleaners, look for natural products that do not feature harmful chemicals. These chemicals enter the waterways and can have devastating effects on marine wildlife.

volunteers helping clean up trash


If you cannot make it to a nearby protest, get in contact with a local environmental group and donate some of your time to their cause. There are plenty of green organizations throughout the country that will welcome you with open arms. Many of these organizations will work with students to promote sustainability in the education system and the experience is great to put on your resume.

Many of these groups also organize large clean-up projects throughout the community. Not only does this have a positive effect on the environment, but it also enables you to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Some clean-up ideas include beach projects and waste removal along roadways.


Recycling is one of the easiest ways you can contribute to a better environment. As a student, there are many things you can recycle throughout the school year. This includes most plastic items you encounter and all of your paper products. Your college should have at least one recycling bin on campus. If you cannot find one, contact the administration office and talk to them about installing one.

Related: Go green in your bedroom with these sustainable decor picks

woman rides bike with briefcase in back basket

Green Transportation

Vehicle emissions are a growing problem in cities around the world. You can do your part in helping to curb air pollution by finding alternative ways to school. This includes getting involved in a ride-sharing program or taking your local bus to class.

If you live on campus, consider using a bike to get around or walk when the weather is nice. Walking or biking is a great way to get in a quick workout and can help you save money in the long run. If you have to call an Uber or Lyft, consider selecting a vehicle that has low emissions.

Paper Savings

Computers may be taking over the world, but many college students still rely on paper for note-taking and homework assignments. Apart from recycling, make the most of your paper stock by writing on both sides when taking notes. You should also avoid making excess copies and always double check your work for errors before taking it to the printer.

For best practices, consider using refillable binders instead of traditional notebooks. You should also be aware of excess paper use in other areas of your life. In the cafeteria, for instance, only take as many napkins as you need instead of large handfuls.

donation cardboard box with clothing and blankets


If you do not have a lot of time on your hands for volunteering or protesting, donating is a great way to participate in sustainable living. Local charities would love your monetary support, but there are other things you can donate as well. This includes giving away old clothes, furniture, computers, cell phones and even dishes.

If you do have some extra cash to spare, keep track of every dollar you donate. When tax season comes around, you can deduct charitable donations, which will boost your tax return.

While it does take some effort to practice sustainable living, doing so is critical if we want to preserve the environment for generations to come.

Via Eco NationPrinceton Review

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