How can you live sustainably as a student? A legitimate question. After all, sustainability is so expensive and as a student you usually have a rather small budget. But since in my opinion you can also save money with sustainability can, frugal students can live sustainably during their studies just as well as working professionals can.
In this article, I want to show you how sustainable living works as a student and what tips and tricks you can use to get through your studies as environmentally friendly as possible.
Notice: If you were rather looking for a suitable study on sustainable living, then take a look now at the Article about sustainable study programs.
Why should you live sustainably as a student?
At first glance, it's not always obvious why you're doing this during your studies and beyond, live environmentally conscious should. Here are some good reasons why:
- Ease of implementation: Living frugally as a student is often already automatic. Combining this with a sustainable life is incredibly easy! You will feel this at the latest with my tips in the course of this article.
- Counteract environmental problems: Whether Climate change or Plastic waste in the environment - our comfortable lifestyle is one cause. Just as well, of course, we can counteract them in everyday life.
- Save money: As a student, your budget is usually quite tight anyway. By consuming more consciously and living more sustainably, you'll have even more of your student job salary left over.
- Be a role model: Thinking long-term and living sustainably is also an important part of your personal development. You will better understand the connections between everyday behavior and environmental problems and be a role model for others.
So by living sustainably as a student, you're not only doing something for our environment, but more importantly, you're doing something for yourself.
Tip: If you want to know more about the greatest environmental problems of our time you can learn more about it in the linked, detailed article.
10 tips for sustainable living in college
Good - now I know why I should be more conscious in my everyday life, even as a student. But how can I live sustainably during my studies? I would now like to give you the answers to this question with my best tips. Oh and by the way: most of the tips are proofed by myself - because they are based on my own experiences as a student.
1. food sharing
About Foodsharing you can rescue food free of charge from participating cafés, bakeries, restaurants and supermarkets that would otherwise end up in the garbage can. The food and meals are usually still edible, but do not meet the usual standards. You can save yourself money and save food by doing this. There is usually so much food left over that you can also share it wonderfully with your fellow students.
2. drinking bottle and tap water
Another tip for sustainable living as a student is drinking tap water from the reusable Stainless steel drinking bottle or glass. Firstly, because the privatization of water sources, the subsequent filling into plastic bottles and the drying up of entire regions is one of the main reasons why food companies like Nestlé under criticism stand. Secondly, because you can save yourself the trouble of lugging heavy water bottles up to the third floor of your student apartment.
Learn more in the article Tap water VS water from plastic bottles.
And what about my coffee? Don't worry. Instead of the disposable Coffee2Go cup, coffee junkies can simply switch to a Coffee2Go reusable mug switch. This avoids a lot of waste and is often even cheaper!
3. cook and plan ahead yourself
I have to be honest: I hated cooking anything myself back then and was a fan of expensive, sugary and processed convenience foods. But as a student, you can live a much healthier and more sustainable life than I did back then by simply planning and cooking your own meals (a little more than usual) for a short time.
It's healthier, cheaper and more environmentally friendly. For one thing, because by planning your meals ahead for the week, you're consciously Reduce food waste and save money. Secondly, because unprocessed food is simply healthier for your body.
And what all can I cook? For more sustainability best vegan and vegetarian dishes. Let you in the Vegan Recipe Blog inspire a little bit.
4. sustainable research with Ecosia
If you want to live sustainably as a student, you can also be intentional about your coursework with a sustainable search engine like Ecosia. Ecosia is not such a massive data octopus, pays taxes in Germany and plants a tree for about every 45th search query.
Tip: You can also use the Internet more consciously away from the search engine. You can learn more about this in the article about sustainable surfing on the internet.
5. buy and repair technology & co. used
Does it have to be the latest smartphone and the brand new laptop? This usually requires natural resources such as rare earths required. When buying used neither nature nor workers in cobalt mines have to suffer for you. So by preferring second hand products or repairing things that don't work, you're doing something good for your wallet and our environment.
Here are some places for you to start:
- ReBuy (Online portal for used goods)
- eBay Classifieds
- Flea markets
- Second hand stores
- Repair Cafés
6. borrow books instead of buying new ones
You don't have to buy every book new! That consumes natural resources and costs a lot of money. Have you ever thought about the costs that would accumulate over your entire studies? It is cheaper to borrow books in the Library - most universities have one, so you don't even have to drive there. By the way: You can also borrow or exchange books among fellow students.
Tip: Take a look at the article about the Borrowing in the spirit of the Zero Waste lifestyle, to get even more inspiration.
7. reusable instead of disposable
If you want to live sustainably in college, embrace this basic rule of the Zero Waste lifestyle. Avoid disposable cotton pads, disposable cutlery and cups, plastic straws and capsule coffee. What seems cheap in the short term is expensive in the long term and absolutely not environmentally friendly. Use instead rather reusable fabric pads, stainless steel cutlery and washable cups, Glass straws and bean coffee.
Tip: Get also in the post about plastic free celebration some more input for the next student party!
8. bicycle & public transport instead of car
In most college towns you can get pretty good car free living and switch to bicycles or public transportation instead. This is usually not only much more sustainable, stress-free, healthier and faster, but also cheaper. So there's a whole broadside of reasons to become a bit more sustainable as a student.
By the way: If you are visiting your parents and your hometown is a bit further back, you should of course take the train instead of the car if possible.
Tip: If there is no way around a car, then you can read about it in the article on sustainable driving pick up more inspiring tips! For example, carpooling with fellow students.
9. vegan & vegetarian in the canteen
For the production of one kilogram of beef, 15,415 liters of water are consumed₁ - for example for the cultivation of feed, cleaning of stalls or watering. In addition, cattle farming around the world results in the use of Deforestation of the (rain) forests. Most university dining halls now offer vegan or at least vegetarian meals. By giving up meat or animal products, or at least reducing their consumption, you have a incredibly great impact against the environmental problems of our time.
For example, you can start well with these posts:
10. cheap vacation without expensive flights
Vacationing as a student - that usually only works with a tight budget. Cheap flights are relatively inexpensive - but in the end they also cost money and are anything but sustainable. If you want to go on vacation during your studies or the semester break, then try to consciously travel sustainably. Pay attention to waste prevention and make a Zero Waste Journey. Avoid cruises and flights and instead treat yourself to a relaxing time in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains or in Kochel am See. There you can arrive and depart cheaply and very comfortably by train.
11. consciously question own consumption
Do I really need it? I always ask myself this question before I buy something. It gives me some distance from the object of my desire. After a moment's thought, I usually realize that I could save the money. By consuming only the things that really get you ahead, you can live more sustainably. Whether you're a student or not. It doesn't matter. Live more minimalist and part with things that are superfluous.
Tip: Perhaps the consumption-critical Frugalism lifestyle something for you. The point is this, Spend less money and save moreso that one becomes financially independent as quickly as possible. A lifestyle that has a lot of connections to the topic of sustainability.
12. digital instead of paper
During my own bachelor studies, I never printed out study letters. Much too expensive and wasteful! After all, trees have to give way for the paper elsewhere. Instead, I have study letters digitally on the tablet and also made the notes about it. That's not everyone's cup of tea, that's true! Then another tip: Your study documents you can wonderfully simply in a Cloud system (e.g. Dropbox) - and you can also access them from anywhere.
Tip: If you definitely need to print something out, it's best to use recycled paper. This way, the natural resource wood is reused for your paper for as long as possible.
13. say no to cheap culis & co.
Surely you already have a pen in your student apartment, right? Then you should also reject cheap pens and all the other cheap promotional materials when they are offered to you. Your Production is mostly carried out far away from all environmental Moreover, the articles are mostly produced in Asian countries under poor working conditions and shipped to Germany.
14. do it yourself - dishwashing liquid & more
Whether it's dishwashing detergent, furniture or deodorant, many of the things we order online or buy in supermarkets and drugstores almost as if they were self-directed can be made. Here are a few examples to try out:
- Build bedside table yourself
- Making washing up liquid from ivy yourself
- Make deodorant yourself
- Make toothpaste yourself
Tip: Be sure to also take a look at the article about coffee grounds applications in the household. For you as a student, it is very suitable for example as a grill cleaner and against dark circles under the eyes!
15. study and part-time job with sustainable impact
What's the point of living sustainably in college if you're studying the wrong thing? When choosing your course of study, make sure that it is not only in the short term but also in the long term an added value for you, our society and our environment has.
In the article about sustainable courses you will find hundreds of study programs and an informative overview with a map of Germany. And in the sustainable job portal you will see hundreds of job postings for environmentally friendly jobs. There's sure to be something for you - at the latest after you've finished your studies. 🙂
16. demonstrating against grievances
Participation in demonstrations is usually free of charge. Living sustainably as a student also includes being actively for improvements in our society to use. If something bothers you, then open your mouth - and get involved, for example, against Factory farming or for a ban on single-use plastic in Germany.
Tip: Start an online petition! This is also free of charge - and if your concern meets the ravages of time, then you will also be able to carry away and convince many people.
17. start an educational internet project
With a thousand percent conviction, I can recommend that you start your own projects during your studies that - in whatever form - make a difference to our environment. The time for it should be there. I have for example CareElite launched and started through the plastic free lifestyle blogging and cleaning up beaches. In the meantime, CareElite has evolved - so that I can devote myself to social awareness work full time.
Today, by the way, I'm a student again and doing my master's in environmental science on the side.
QuestionDo you have any other tips for living as sustainably as possible as a student? Then feel free to write them in the comments!
So is living sustainably as a student possible?
Yes, it is! And it is anything but complicated, don't you think? As you've probably noticed, living sustainably isn't as expensive as people often say. Whether you're a student or an employee, putting your new attitude into practice may take some time. But in the end, you actually save money. Reusing straws, making your own washing-up liquid, consuming meat more consciously or not at all, borrowing books - it's so easy and so inexpensive. And that's exactly why it's so easy to live sustainably during your studies.
Do you have any questions or suggestions about the article on sustainable living as a student? Then I look forward to your comment under this post.
PS.: If you want sustainability to play an even bigger role in your everyday life, I recommend my book Sustainable living for beginners. The book is also available as a paper-saving e-book 🙂 .
₁ Albert Schweitzer Stiftung (2015): Das steckt hinter einem Kilogramm Beindfleisch, available at https://albert-schweitzer-stiftung.de/aktuell/1-kg-rindfleisch. [14.01.2020].