Sustainable swaps on a college budget

By Makenzi Johnson

Swapping to a more sustainable lifestyle has the reputation of being expensive and time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. Living on a college budget, here are some cheap sustainable swaps you can make to limit single-use plastic, reduce your carbon footprint and save those turtles. 


Place paper products like Post-it Notes and envelopes and beverage containers like plastic Royal Grounds cups and aluminum cans (rinse all prior to recycling) in various recycling bins across campus and in your dorm. 

Switch to a reusable water bottle 

Instead of buying a plastic bottle of Dasani or Smart Water every morning, use a reusable water bottle to reduce single-use plastic and save money. You can even customize your eco-friendly swap with stickers! 

Bring your own bag to the store 

Ditch the flimsy plastic bags at the grocery store for a cloth tote bag, mesh produce bag or even a LuluLemon bag to carry and hold all of your purchases. 

Reusable Keurig cups

Rather than using plastic, single-use K-cup pods, invest in reusable ones to pour your own coffee grounds or tea leaves in. Reusable pods can be purchased via Amazon, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond and more. 

Ditch the Ziploc bags and cling wrap

Use beeswax wraps to tightly seal things instead of cling wrap or aluminum foil. These cloth pieces are covered in a thick layer of beeswax, making anything you seal waterproof and fresh for extended periods of time. Use a reusable pouch instead of plastic Ziplocs to hold your mid-day snacks.  

Stop shopping fast fashion 

Brands like Shein and Forever 21 are appealing because they’re cheap, but they’re categorized as fast fashion, meaning they produce tons of energy and water waste and their products are poorly made, usually through child labor. Shop at thrift stores or borrow from friends for cheaper, more ethical options. 


If you and your friends are all going to the same place, drive together! Carpooling will save gas money and reduce your carbon footprint. Carpool karaoke is always more fun with friends anyway. 

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