In the midst of an unseasonably warm winter following the hottest and driest year to date in Colorado, I have resolved to live a greener life. As a student, my budget is pretty minimal, so I decided to focus on making sustainable changes that would save me some money at the same time. Check out the tips below for ideas on ways to reduce your footprint and adopt a sustainable lifestyle without spending your hard-earned savings.
Ditch Disposable Bags
Every year, Americans use approximately 1 billion shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of landfill waste, according to the Clean Air Council. Don't forget your reusable bags when you go to the store. Add baskets to your bike or ride the bus if the load is too heavy to carry on foot.
Wherever you can, transfer bills, magazines, newspapers, and mail to their digital counterparts. Most banks and utility services offer an eBill option.
For your schoolwork, purchase eBooks and digital versions of articles instead of buying or printing out hard copies. Type your class notes instead of writing, or record the lecture for instant playback.
Walk, Bike or Ride
This one is a no-brainer, but avoid driving. Walk or bike to class when the weather is nice, or ride the bus if it's cold or rainy. If you commute to campus, you can coordinate a ride with others in your area through CU Commute.
If you're heading out to the slopes this weekend, take advantage of the CU Ski Bus. You'll save money on gas and reduce emissions by sharing your ride with other CU students.
Green Your Diet
If you can't afford the extra cost of entirely organic food, replace just one of your normal purchases with a more sustainable choice, like organic apples or milk. Every purchase counts!
Reduce your carbon footprint by eating vegetarian or vegan one day a week. According to Grist.org, if every person in America chose one meat-free day per week, it would reduce emissions as much as taking 8 million cars off the road.
Swap and Scrounge
Clothes for school, work and the gym can be costly, and the process of textile production can be tough on the environment and on workers. Instead of buying a new outfit when your wardrobe seems drab, set up clothing and item swaps with your friends once a month.
Check out CraigsList's "Free" section for curbside furniture and other items, or swing by a yard sale or an estate sale to find some antique treasures. You'd be surprised what people are giving away!
Reuse, Reduce, Recycle
Composting and recycling form the foundations of a sustainable lifestyle. Make sure you place recyclable items in their proper receptacles, and separate compostables from recyclables. Fill your reusable water bottle with tap water instead of buying a new bottle every time you need a drink. Skip your daily cup of coffee if you forget your travel mug.
Jessica Farris is the communications coordinator for the Environmental Center at CU-Boulder and a journalism graduate student.