Back to school in a state of climate change


Brian Wong | Flickr

Brianna Adkins

Assignments are piling up, classes are back in session, and Starbucks runs are a daily routine. All of this means one thing: school is back in session. Coming back to the University can be thrilling, especially for those who love moving back into the dorms, meeting up with old friends, and redecorating their room. While this transition period can be an exciting time, there’s one thing that should be on everyone’s mind: climate change.

Though the major corporations are at the center of mass consumption and waste, adopting eco-friendly and zero-waste practices can only help our planet. Ultimately, students spend most of their time in class, their room, or Café 101. So here are a few quick ways to reduce waste and save money at the same time!

Jason Lawrence | Flickr
Jason Lawrence | Flickr

Skip the Uber and utilize the city’s public transit system…

Riding the subway or bus doesn’t feel like the royalty of riding in an Uber or Lyft, but public transportation often takes less time and is the most environmentally friendly transit option in New York City. With subway and bus stops located just steps away, it’s always a great idea to choose the more cost and environmentally friendly transportation option.

Buy previously owned, digital, or rental textbooks…

Textbooks are expensive—it’s a fact of life. That’s why purchasing previously owned, rented, or online textbooks are the best possible options when the price tag is nearing five-hundred dollars a semester. Not only does this option save you money, but it also reduces unnecessary paper waste.

Brian Wong | Flickr
Brian Wong | Flickr

Purchase a set of reusable food containers…

These food containers can be utilized in the cafeteria or even at Starbucks. Skip the plastic cup and straw—bring your own sustainable option. This quick tip can save you from eliminating an unhealthy amount of waste during your meal times and quick coffee trips. The cafeteria Starbucks also sells reusable cups that you can purchase with meal plan money!

Sustainably shop for outfits by utilizing thrift stores and rental services…

Shopping for new clothes, especially internship/work-friendly articles, can be the best part of back to school shopping. Purchasing at nearby thrift stores such as Beacon’s Closet or Buffalo Exchange will get you the same quality items that you’d buy from H&M or Zara while making you feel better about your overall carbon footprint. Rent the Runway also has an amazing subscription service for students who can afford the price point!

Lastly, make your notes as digital as possible…

Try to take the majority of your notes on a laptop to reduce paper waste. If a professor refuses laptop-use in a class, then that’s beyond anyone’s control. The best way to make note-taking more green is by purchasing notebooks using recycled paper or just by reusing old notebooks.

While most students don’t have the financial means to make their lives entirely sustainable, these small practices are both cost-effective and environmentally friendly—a win-win. Small steps in sustainable practices may not reverse climate change, but they definitely can’t hurt.