10 Tips to Be Sustainable While Living on Campus

A small globe on the grass.

Switching to a greener lifestyle might seem like an impossible choice when living on campus. After all, between chaotic classes, tons of assignments, and meeting your social obligations, how can you find the time to be sustainable?

However, leading an eco-friendly lifestyle does not demand you turn your world upside down. Instead, a few tweaks can help you reduce your overall carbon footprint.

Read on to learn more about how to be sustainable as a student.

1.   Take On a Minimalistic Approach

One of the best ways to live a green lifestyle, no matter where you are, is to be minimalistic. This does not, however, require you to get rid of everything. Instead, before you make any purchase, think twice about whether you absolutely need it.

You can start by reusing whatever items you have. For instance, if your laptop is already working perfectly, you certainly do not need a new one for college – unless you are taking a course that demands specific software. Otherwise, you would use your laptop to browse research materials or to get an online paper writer for hire to complete the homework.

Similarly, it would also be a smart move to reach out to your roommate and see what things they are bringing. This way, you won’t end up buying two of the same bulky items, such as a mini-fridge. Moreover, you can split the cost of the sharable items, which can turn out to be cost-effective.

2.   Buy Second-Hand

It’s best to start thinking of how to live a sustainable lifestyle before you head to your dorm. This means you need to consider what things you should purchase and, importantly, how.

Of course, some things for your dorm space need to be bought first-hand, such as decor, shower caddy, and wardrobe items. However, other items, such as a mini fridge, microwave, and even textbooks, can be purchased second-hand. These will not only save you some money but will also help you recycle used items.

Similarly, you can also resell what you can when you move out. Some universities even collect items from students at the end of every year, which can be passed on to others.

3.   Shop Local

There is no question that it is incredibly easy to purchase items online. However, if you want to contribute more to your planet, then you can try shopping locally, which will create less of a carbon footprint than shipping items from elsewhere.

This could be anything, from shoes, clothes, books, and of course, groceries. You can also make your weekends busy by visiting the local farmer’s market. If interested, you can also go thrifting for furniture that can spruce your dorm room.

4.   Buy in Bulk

It might seem counterintuitive to buy items in bulk. However, in doing so, you can save not only money but also the amount of packaging. On top of this, you can also minimize the environmental impact of multiple trips to visit the store.

You can easily purchase non-perishable items such as cleaning supplies and toiletries. That being said, before doing this, also make sure that your dorm room has sufficient space for storing items in bulk, or else you will be creating another problem.

5.   Compost Food Waste

To take things further ahead, you can also try composting your food waste, and some colleges might already have a composting system for food leftovers and scraps. While many people believe that only plant-based food waste can be composted, the truth is that you can compost most types of food waste, including meat. While meat takes longer to break down than other food waste, it can still be composted under the right conditions. Check subpod.com to learn if you can compost meat. So, when you snack in your dorm or cook, make sure you separate the garbage and keep the biodegradable waste together.

This way, you can throw your food waste into the compost system on campus.

If your college campus does not have one, you can try setting up your own small compost system in your room. However, understandably, this might not be a possible option at all times.

6.   Rely Less on Heating and Air Con

Another way to reduce your carbon footprint is to save electricity as much as possible. If your dorm allows you to control the temperature, then you can try alternatively before you reach to switch on the heating or air conditioning.

For instance, if you are feeling chilly, then try putting on a few extra layers first. Or, if you are getting warm, try opening the windows. Of course, there will certainly be times when you need to rely on these; however, try to keep it to a minimum. 

7.   Reconsider Your Mode of Commute

It has become increasingly easy these days to find sustainable modes of transportation. For students living on campus, a car is not necessary to get to the classes. However, you will still have to depend on transportation systems to get around.


Here are some alternatives that you consider:

  • Use a bike. This is perhaps the easiest way to get around your campus. Apart from the initial cost, bikes do not need any fuel, nor do they produce any emissions. Moreover, they are healthy as well as convenient. Some colleges also offer rented bikes, which can further reduce costs. 
  • Walk more. Well, this sounds way too simple, right? The only catch is that you will need to leave early since walking can take longer. Regardless, it is the cheapest and healthiest way to get around. Physical activity can also help you clear your head.
  • Use public transport. Depending on the location of your campus, you might also be able to find easy access to buses to get to nearby locations.
  • Go for a hybrid or an electric model. If you absolutely cannot live without a car, then go for a hybrid or an electric vehicle. These days, it won’t be too hard to find a budget-friendly model.

8.   Go Digital

There is no need to convince students of the advantages of going digital. The aim is to make the most of it in order to help save the plant. If possible, make a switch towards things more digital. This includes textbooks, notebooks, or folders.

Whenever possible, take advantage of technology to reduce reliance on paper. You can try taking notes on your computer and emailing assignments rather than submitting a printed copy.

9.   Join Sustainability Groups on Campus

Being a college student, you will have access to plenty of resources when it comes to finding like-minded people. It is highly likely that your college has a few clubs or groups focused on sustainability. You can try joining them to take part in the activities or learn more about leading a sustainable life on campus.

You can even host events or campaigns to help spread awareness about eco-friendly living. You can also take things further by making requests to the college administration about the changes that can be implemented on campus for students to adopt a greener lifestyle. 

10.   Attend Sustainability Classes

Finally, if you wish to improve your grasp on the green lifestyle, it would not hurt to learn more about the topic. Some colleges have courses on sustainability that you can take on – if you have room in your schedule.

Alternatively, several organizations conduct workshops on a zero-waste lifestyle, which comes with plenty of learning opportunities.

So, there you have it. While leading a sustainable life on campus might seem daunting, it can easily be done. You might not be able to lead a zero-waste lifestyle from the beginning, but you can slowly learn as you go.

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.