Categories: College Life

How to Save Money while Reducing your Carbon Footprint

Unfortunately, in today’s modern society, there has been a significant increase in the amount of greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere. However, there are easy ways to reduce your personal impact on the earth and save money at the same time. You may not think it’s easy to do as a college student, but all it takes is a little more thought in how your day-to-day activities affect the Earth.

1.) Carpool.
Going out to the bar Thursday night? Planning a trip home for the weekend? Save money and lower carbon dioxide emissions by coordinating travel plans with friends and classmates! The US Energy Information Administration estimates that for every gallon of ethanol-free gasoline burned, 19.64 pounds of carbon dioxide are produced! Many colleges have ride share pages where students can post where they are going and when. Then, other students who have a similar destination can reply to organize transportation. Split the cost of gas or the taxi fare, and pocket the rest– more friends means more money save!

2.) Unplug electronics.
Living off campus? Not used to the high electricity rates? Reduce your monthly bill by unplugging electronics before you leave the house or even your dorm. Most on/off switches on modern electronics put the product on a “standby” mode, rather than turning it off completely. When your devices are in standby mode, electricity will continue to be drawn in. Just pull the plug to reduce your impact and your bill. This can apply to your television, coffee makers, microwaves, cell phone chargers, lamps, etc. The Department of Energy says a plasma TV can use $165 worth of standby power consumption per year!

3.) Invest in a reusable water bottle, shopping bag and food containers.
Help reduce the amount of plastic thrown away by purchasing a refillable water bottle. This will also save you money, as you won’t have to constantly buy more plastic bottles. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, tap water costs about $1.60 per one-thousand gallons, whereas bottled water costs about $0.90 per gallon! Reusable bottles come in many sizes, and can have special features, such as the option to carbonate your water, or to flavor with fruit. Save even more plastic by using reusable bags when going to the grocery store, and using reusable food containers instead of one-use foil wrap.

4.) Get used textbooks.
By renting or purchasing a used textbook, fewer copies of that book will be made, and less paper will be used. Save even more paper by printing double-sided, and by purchasing notebooks made out of recycled paper. Instead of throwing your unused books in the trash, you can sell them back to buyback services online, or even at your campus bookstore. You will make money doing it and save trees at the same time.

5.) Recycle!
This one may seem obvious, but did you know you could make money by recycling plastic or glass bottles at your local supermarket? After a fun Friday or Saturday night, pack up the empty bottles left by your friends and head to the store. Most bottles return either 5 or 10 cents a piece. This is an easy and fun way to put money back into your pockets. If you only have a few recyclable bottles a week, organize a campus cleanup with some other students, and then recycle the bottles in bulk for even more cash!

Reducing your GHG footprint in college doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. By following these tips, you will help to preserve the natural balance of the Earth while generating some spending money along the way!

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Kimberly Meneo

Kim Meneo is a student at Connecticut College studying English and environmental science. In her free time, she volunteers at a local equine rescue and produces freelance articles for several companies. During the summer, she can usually be found relaxing on the beach with a good book. Any questions, concerns, or general inquiries can be emailed to her at

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