How to live eco-friendly on a student budget

When it comes to going green, many of us think it will be too expensive. This is an interesting thought, especially because an environmentally friendly lifestyle is actually focused on consuming less. While there are certainly ways to live eco-friendly and spend a ton of money (such as installing solar panels on the roof of your home), there are also ways to do so on a budget. If you’re a student working with limited funds, here are some ways you, too, can go green.

Shop organic produce at a farmers’ market

One of this first ways we think about going green focuses on food. While organic produce costs a pretty penny at the grocery store, it’s often much cheaper at a farmers’ market. In fact, market produce is often less expensive than your grocery store’s regular produce. At a market, goods only travel a short distance to get to you, which helps keep the costs down (and also limits travel-related pollution and emissions). You’ll find that the majority of items are also farmed using organic practices. If they’re not labelled as such, ask the farmers onsite.

Tone down your utility use

As a child, your parents likely nagged you to turn off the lights when you left the room, or to not waste water. Your parents were right. One of the easiest ways to go green involved limiting your utility consumption. This starts at home. Turn off the lights when you’re not home, and open the blinds to let natural light in. A slight three- or four-degree adjustment to your thermostat can also make a huge difference on your monthly bill. Shorter showers and full loads of the dishwasher will also help reduce water waste and increase your savings.

Ditch your disposables

When it comes to food storage, many brands advocate for buying their eco-friendly, disposable products. While many of these plastic bags, aluminum foil and other food-storage products are made from recycled products, they still take their toll on landfills. A better way to cut back on waste is by not creating any at all. As a busy student on the go, you likely carry food, snacks and coffee to campus. Instead of using plastic bags, food wrap and paper cups, invest in one set of food containers and a travel mug. You can reuse them daily to quickly cut back on the waste you generate.

Buy one bottle

It can be too easy to buy a bottle of water here and there when you’re on the go. At a restaurant, at the gas station, gym and convenience store. These all add up into significant amounts of waste. As easy as it is to grab a bottle, so it is to refill a reusable one. Make a one-time investment into a reusable water bottle that you really like, and fill it up as go about your day. The cost of disposable bottles quickly adds up, so you’ll find that your reusable one will pay for itself in no time.

Use LED light bulbs

While we advocate for turning out the lights, you’re likely spending a lot of your student hours studying. Over the course of your studies, you could easily burn through a lightbulb or two. Replace light bulbs in your home with LED energy efficient ones. The initial investment costs more than traditional CFL bulbs, but over time, you’ll see savings on your electricity bill by switching to LED. They last longer and generate more light for less watts.

Living green doesn’t need to translate into a complete overhaul of your life. Smarter, simpler choices can go a long way in reducing your ecological footprint. On a student budget, you’ll often find that making green choices can also equate to cost savings for you. And that sounds like a win-win for any student!