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6 Ways to Go Green on a College Budget

Authored By: Devin Perez
A recent college graduate, Devin enjoys the freedom that comes with a freelance writing career.

It's not easy being green, especially if your eating ramen twice a day and hoping the employment check comes and buying eggs with spare change. While it may be an adjustment, there are ways to reduce your carbon footprint while still maintaining your finances and fun lifestyle.
As a student, you can still be a force for change even on a college budget. Here are a few free or cheap activities to get you started:

6 Ways to Go Green on a College Budget

Be Smart

Download a few smartphone apps to help you keep track of your energy use or find organic recipes that can help you save the world and a little cash. The Carbon-Meter, a free app only available for Android devices, measures your activity and lets you know how much you're contributing to saving or hurting the environment. It tracks planet-saving activities, such as walking and biking, and gives you points depending on your efforts. Also make sure that you're tracking your spending with a budgeting app.


Look for ways to reuse items instead of throwing them away or buying new. Instead of spending hundreds each year on your textbook list, swap a book from last semester with someone else. Sites such as allow people to trade used books for free. Keep all of your homework, tests and print-offs from the semester to use as scratch paper or taking notes, then take the box to the recycling center when it's full.


Forget about paying for parking or being late because you couldn't find a parking spot. When you can and on a college campus, you usually can walk. Bike or board to campus and then walk between your classes to save energy and decrease emissions that are released into the air when driving. If you're a commuting student, invest in a fuel-efficient, clean car like a Toyota Prius, Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt. These hybrid, electric and plug-in vehicles emit fewer emissions and use less energy when powered. Toyota, Nissan and Chevrolet dealers in Phoenix can tell you more about the benefits of driving green.

Go Paperless

Whenever you can, choose to go paperless. Our generation is already used to relaying information via the Internet and text messaging, so take it another step further. If it's an option, choose paperless billing with your bank, phone service provider, health insurance company and other services that generally send you statements every month. This way you won't have to worry about sifting through mail to find the bills among the junk.


Known as 'energy vampires,' most plugged-in appliances and electronic devices consume energy even when they're switched off. According to, a TV can use a maximum of 21.6 watts of energy while plugged in but, switched off, an Internet terminal can use 18.8 watts and a portable stereo can use 7.7.

But even with this information, you'd have to be super committed to living an eco-friendly lifestyle to crawl on your hands and knees multiple times a day to unplug and plug back in computers, lamps, DVD players, etc. Because let's face it, most plugs are found behind desks and under beds. Instead, use a power strip or two to plug in all of your devices. A power strip can protect from power surges, and are much easier to switch on and off every time you leave for class or come back from studying.

Get Involved

The key to reducing your carbon footprint is having the knowledge of how to do it. Do some research and learn what can be recycled, how much energy certain activities are consuming and where the closest recycling centers are located. Many universities have their own recycling initiatives see what you can do to get involved.

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