As a senior in college or as a graduate student, you may be living out on your own, or preparing to in the near future. With this freedom comes new financial responsibility, like your utilities bill. You’ll want to be mindful of your usage, making this a good time to consider what kind of carbon footprint you’ll leave on the environment.
Many people assume “going green” is expensive, and as a college student, you may not think the green of the earth is worth the green in your wallet. Well guess what? You can go green without going broke! Follow these tips:
Now that you will be making your own food instead of eating at the dining hall, you will have leftover food waste. Instead of throwing this food into the garbage, make a composting bin outside. That is, a designated place where you place all organic waste, like banana peels (minus animal protein). This will not only lower your trash amount, but will also reduce the stink in your trash that comes from rotting food. You can use, donate or sell the composted material to be used in gardens!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Instead of using paper napkins, purchase some second-hand cloth napkins that you can wash and reuse. Though paper napkins are cheap, they are even cheaper when you don’t have to buy them at all! The same goes for paper towels, so invest in a reusable towel like a Sham-wow.
Power up with power strips
Unplug your appliances when they are not in use. It’s simple to do this with the microwave and blender, but what about entertainment setups? No one wants to climb behind them to unplug all that equipment every time they leave the house. A cheap and easy solution to this problem is a power strip: plug all cords into it and mount the power strip on the back of the entertainment center. Now all you have to do is hit one switch and you will lower your carbon footprint and electric bill all at once.
Baby it’s cold (hot) outside
On average, 50-70% of your energy budget is for the heating and cooling of your place. You can save anywhere from 1-3% on your electric bill for every degree you lower your thermostat in the winter, or for every degree you raise it in the summer! If you decide to make the change, slowly raise or lower the temperature—just a few degrees a week—so your body can adjust.
Tanks a lot
This is the simplest of all. Get a brick and put it in the toilet tank. That’s it! The brick displaces an amount of water equal to the area of the brick, so you end up saving that much water every time you flush!
Adapted from “Going Green Without Going Broke” by Diedra Holley.