It’s easy to be say you’re eco-friendly in college, but it can be difficult to actually practice your beliefs. When you rent an apartment or dorm, you may not have much control over changing your energy use, and you might not have the financial means to make changes like only cooking with organic produce. Luckily, not every green living habit costs a lot of money upfront. If you’re looking to go green, here are a few ways to be eco-friendly while you’re still in college and save money doing it.

Make Your Own Coffee

3 Frugal Ways to Be Eco-Friendly in College

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As a recent graduate, I know that the daily trip to the campus Starbucks is a big part of making class a little more bearable. Dirty chai lattes make great fuel for class, but it’s difficult not to splurge during exam week. Yet, at $3-4 dollars a cup, 5 days a week, it’s easy to spend $80 or more each week on coffee! That’s more than $4,300 a year and about 300 used coffee cups going into a landfill.

To save money, I bought a good French press for less than $50, but you can find a good coffeemaker form Walmart for less than $20. You won’t be saving a small fortune like many people say, but you can save about $1 a day with just a few minutes to brew your coffee, and you’re diverting a lot of wasted paper cups and cardboard from the landfill.

Scoot, Scoot

3 Frugal Ways to Be Eco-Friendly in College

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If you live within a few miles of your college and you are driving a car to class, you are simply throwing money down the drain. It may sound harsh, and I know it’s convenient to drive everywhere, but short distance driving can cause a lot of wear and tear damage to your car, the environment and your wallet. Stop -and-go traffic is a strain on your car since it doesn’t have time to warm up properly, which can cause erosion in your exhaust system, and excessive idling in traffic can wear out your transmission.  If you drive to class every day, it’s very likely that you will be driving to the mechanic pretty frequently too.

Scooters and bicycles offer a great alternative mode of transportation to cars, especially for college students. Many universities offer prime parking for scooters, and there are normally plenty of dealers like Bintelli offering street legal scooters near campuses. Scooters cost less than a car, repair is cheaper and they get much better gas mileage.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

3 Frugal Ways to Be Eco-Friendly in College

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I hope this one is a no-brainer. College campuses across the nation are becoming greener each year and it is easier than ever to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle many things you use in your daily life.

  • Recycle last semester’s notebooks and last night’s plastic cups.
  • Use reusable water bottles and water filters like Brita instead of a new bottle of water each day.
  • Avoid using plastic cups (tough to do in college) and utensils whenever possible.
  • Stock up on reusable shopping bags, rather than using plastic bags on rare trips to the grocery store.

There is plenty of energy waste in most apartments that you can’t see. Unplug your appliances from the wall when you are not using them or when you leave town on break. Even if an appliance is not on, it pulls power from the outlet which will show up on your monthly utility bill. Energy efficient light bulbs can save you about $40 per bulb over the course of its life. It may seem like a small amount, but when you apply it to every light in your house it adds up quickly. The EPA shows plenty of small things you can do to go green and save money.

College is the easiest time to begin practicing a greener lifestyle. It is also the prime time when you need to learn to save money so you can tackle on college debt when you get out. Most colleges have on-campus clubs that host numerous educational events to help you take the first steps to doing your part in helping the environment. Don’t be afraid to try to go green and save some green!

Do you know any other ways to be eco-friendly in college?


This is a guest post by Rainier Fuclan. Featured photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc.