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Easy Ways to Go Green in 2013 while Living on a Student Budget

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Organic foods and environmentally-friendly products are generally pricier than their regular counterparts, which can make going green tough—especially for college students with limited budgets—but it’s still possible to do your part while watching your wallet. In fact, many of these suggestions can actually help you save money!

1. Turn off the computer. We have a tendency to let our computers run 24/7 whether we’re using them or not. Turning them off at night and on again the next day can save electricity and save you money.

2. Read your favorite magazines online. Magazine and newspaper subscription rates have dropped dramatically over the past few years. Save paper and therefore trees as well as money by reading the news online. If you must hold the actual pages in your hands rather than read articles on a screen, borrow an issue from a friend or the library.

3. Write and print on both sides of paper. Set your printer to use both sides of the paper, and make sure you write on both sides of the page when taking notes in a notebook.

4. Take shorter showers. Cutting your shower by just two or three minutes can save a considerable amount of water. You’ll also be using less electricity to heat the water.

5. Turn the water off while you brush your teeth. Most people are guilty of this one, even though there’s no real reason to leave the water run while you brush.

6. Buy and sell used textbooks. College textbooks can run several hundred dollars per semester. Buy used and save, and be sure to sell your books when you’re finished with them. Many campus stores and several different websites have buyback programs. You can also sell them yourself on eBay, Craigslist, or by posting flyers on campus.

7. Do your laundry in cold water. Washing clothes in cold water saves electricity and helps extend the life of your clothes.

8. Carry reusable shopping bags. Some large store chains and even some cities have banned the use of plastic shopping bags, which often wind up as litter. Reusable shopping bags, available for as little as a dollar at many stores, are a better alternative.

9. Don’t leave things plugged in when they’re not being used. If you leave things plugged in when you aren’t using them—such as your cell phone charger or your coffee maker—you’re wasting electricity. Use a power strip with an on/off switch if you don’t want to constantly unplug things.

10. Let the sunshine in! Open your blinds or curtains and turn off the lights. We all need sunlight for vitamin D, anyway.

11. Opt out of monthly statements. Cancel your monthly bank and credit card statements, which can each be several pages long. View your statements online instead. If you want to keep a copy for your records, save them in PDF format as opposed to printing them out.

12. Check out local thrift stores. Visit the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or other thrift stores in your area. You can usually score some unique bargains and give a home to things that would have been thrown out otherwise.

13. Beg, borrow, and steal. Okay, stealing isn’t really advisable, but borrowing things from friends and family rather than buying your own is a good way to go green while saving some green.

14. Use fewer beauty products. Do you honestly need two types of shampoo, three conditioners, four scented body washes, and enough hair products to open your own salon? Chances are, you’re buying far too many products than you actually need. Their production wastes resources and their containers waste plastic. Limit your purchases, or at the very least, recycle whatever containers you can.

15. Carpool or use public transportation. Need to go somewhere? Catch a ride with a friend or take the bus or metro whenever possible. Not only will you save gas money and put less mileage on your car, you’ll help reduce air pollution.

These are just a few ways you can go green in 2013! Join an ecology club on campus or brainstorm with friends to think of other ways you can help make a difference.

Read More:

Going Green at College: Sierra Club Ranks America’s Greenest Campuses

Green Colleges: Schools to Begin Improving Energy Efficiency

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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