A College Guide to Living More Sustainably


Aug 22, 2022

It’s that time of year again where university students are moving back on campus and getting ready for their year ahead! According to the NRDC, the average dorm room consumes 30.2 percent of its electrical energy while you and your roomies aren’t there. That’s because appliances continue to draw power from electrical outlets even when turned off or idle. Whether you’re a first or fifth year student, here are some tips from The GREEN Program’s alumni community on how to set up your living situation to be more sustainable this year.

In Your Dorm

  • Using a power strip to plug in your computer, phone, and coffee maker is a smart way to binge-watch your favorite Netflix original series and a great way to save electricity. Be sure to disconnect your plugs when they’re not in use to avoid wasting “vampire power”.
  • At college, going to a bank means traveling off campus which can be a hassle. So go virtual! Avoid all paper bank statements and bills by paying online or on your phone #no #more #deforestation 
  • Try and reduce your overall paper waste by emailing those term papers to professors or printing double-sided. GREEN alumna Kelsey Kaline says a good way to reduce paper waster is to avoid printing out a 40 page PowerPoint when you’re bringing your laptop to class.
  • SHARE. We all know that you spend 100% too much time on social media anyway, so you might as well like and share posts about environmental and social justice to spread the word.
  • Conserve water by taking shorter showers (less time in those lovely college communal bathrooms!)
  • GREEN alumnus Corey Norton shares, “This is a pretty small thing but totally changed my life and is pretty relevant for college kids. Put milk in the cup before coffee to eliminate the need for wasteful stirring sticks or spoons…seems like a small thing but when finals come around and you’re having five cups a day, it makes a difference!”
  • GREEN alumna Kelsey Kaline suggests, “Wash your clothes in cold water.” This tip not only saves energy and your clothes from shrinking. 

On Campus

  • Rally for Meatless Mondays at your campus cafeteria or better vegetarian options (Recommended by TGP Alumna, Kelsey Bradley) 
  • Avoid bringing plastic water bottles to class and invest in a reusable water bottle. GREEN alumna Kelsey Kaline even recommends you “bring your own coffee mug to your local study spot.”
  • Join a sustainability club and attend their events to learn more about sustainable practices, or get three friends and start a club if your school does not have one.
  • Be a leader. Take a look at your college’s policies and see what needs change to become make your school more sustainable. Connect with your campus’s sustainability or DEI office to advocate and get involved.
  • GREEN alumna Kelsey Kaline says, “Don’t get a to-go container in the cafeteria unless you are actually in a rush.” 
  • Take advantage of sunlight and find time reconnecting with nature by studying outside ☺ 
  • GREEN alumna Katie Stevens shares, “Don’t use straws or plastic utensils! They are used once then sit in landfills forever.”  Use a reusable utensil set or even better, just pack standard reusable utensils from your kitchen!
  • GREEN alumna Larissa Row explains,  “Every campus has different facilities and resources available, so get to know your sustainability office! They often have tips on how to reduce waste and live sustainably in your every day life. Mine also had some resources they would give out, to assist with changing behaviors, as well as tons of informative events where you could get free stuff. It also had various programs you could get involved in to learn more about sustainability in general and to spread awareness around campus, so I’d definitely suggest stopping by there to see what your campus has to offer.” 
  • Opt-in to use your campus’s public transportation services and be sure to use your student discount to help the planet and your wallet. If possible, bike or walk to your classes to reduce your own emissions.
  • Get connected with The GREEN Program community by reaching out to a TGP Ambassador near you! Meet our TGP Ambassadors HERE!

In Your Community 

  • Shop local! Whether you live in an urban setting or a bustling college town, support local businesses. Extra points if you bring reusable shopping bags. 
  • Try to go to a farmer’s market once a week or somewhere you know is selling sustainably made food. 
  • Use public transit or ride your bike (if proximity allows) to cut down on fossil fuel usage. 
  • Go thrift shopping! Thrifting is a fun way to repurpose clothes, furniture, and household items to get your dorm or apartment move-in ready.
  • Be a part of your community garden! Creating green spaces helps offsets carbon emissions, and you can grow sustainable food to eat! 
  • Fill out that absentee ballot or go home to vote, so you can elect leaders that share the same passion for sustainability. 
  • Volunteering on local sustainability projects is a great way to give back to the community and participate in service during your college years! 
  • Get involved and join local sustainability or environmental organizations. These can be a great way to meet like-minded peers, expand your network, and get involved in topics that you care in your own communities.

No matter how you choose to live more sustainably this year, just remember that we need more people achieving a sustainable future in their own imperfect way. Every bit counts, and the more friends and roommates you can get involved in the conversation goes a long way.

Read Another Article

Honoring Kate Slattery & Highlighting the Shine On Scholarship for Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, The GREEN Program is happy to highlight Kate Slattery – a mechanical engineer and photovoltaic designer for SolarCity who challenged herself and others to work toward a global mission of renewable energy and sustainability. We are honored to work with Kate’s family and GivePower to share Kate’s story and provide the Shine On Scholarship to TGP students in memory of Kate. 

read more

How an Online Sustainability Program Helped Jaedyn Medrano Become an Intersectional Sustainability Advocate

This blog features the virtual Nepal Ethics of Sustainable Development Alum, Jaedyn Medrano who says, “this program taught me how to think about a project holistically, and it has guided me along the path to being a better cultured and inclusive young professional.” She is set to graduate with a double major in Renewable Natural Resources & Ecological Restorations in December of 2022.

read more

Defending Reproductive Rights in the Battle for Climate Justice

Reproductive Justice is Climate Justice. The GREEN Program stands to defend the reproductive rights of all women and people who give birth to access safe reproductive health care. We must do more to educate others and understand the interconnection between Reproductive Justice and the Climate Crisis. It’s important to draw the connections between climate change, pollution, and reproductive rights.

read more

An International Graduate Student Embraces Nepali Culture by Studying Abroad through Shine On Scholarship

On one hand, I believe that every student should be given a chance to study abroad at least once in their life, because it teaches us things that textbooks cannot: adaptability, resilience, curiosity, empathy, just to name a few. Whether good or bad, bursting our bubble and learning about our world will inspire us and open our minds. On the other hand, the people we interact with benefit from the diversity, because all of us bring unique perspectives to the table. Perhaps we share an idea that no one has thought of but could be key to solving a problem; we fuel the aspirations of someone who is facing similar difficulties; or help take down stereotypes.  

read more

Remembering Juneteenth and the Fight for Environmental Justice

n June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. It is on this day every year since that we celebrate “Juneteenth” as the end of slavery in the United States. It is a day that we celebrate ancestors and leaders who fought to be liberated. We celebrate their power, resiliency, and tenacity. 

read more

LGBTQ+ Leaders and Organizations in Sustainability to Know About this Pride Month

The GREEN Program loves to celebrate love, and there is no better way to do that this month than by recognizing a few LGBTQ+ leaders and organizations that are making a difference not just in their own communities but for our planet altogether. Read below to learn more about some people and spaces that are working together to promote a better world that focuses on inclusion and equality.

read more

Meet 8 AAPI Leaders in Sustainability: Across the Globe and At Home

The month of May is known to many as the end of classes and the start of Summer, but May is also known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Our team at TGP wanted to take a moment to recognize the contributions and influence of AAPI Americans throughout history, culture, and achievements both on a global scale, and from those who are a bit close to home. We also encourage you to learn more about AAPI Heritage Month and get involved through additional resources.

read more

From a Start Up to a Sustainability Study Abroad Program: How Patrick Applied his Passion for Renewable Energy in Iceland

When Fall 2021 rolled around and I saw the TGP scholarship opportunity, I thought I’d apply not expecting much. When I found out that I actually got it, I was like “I guess I’m actually doing this!”. I was a little nervous and anxious but also so excited for the opportunity! I was also grateful that the enrollment process was very smooth for me with no significant challenges along the way.

read more

Boston University Student Gains a Unique Perspective for Renewable Energy & Sustainability by Studying Abroad in Iceland

Global experiences have definitely shaped me into the person I am today through increased cultural awareness and sensitivity. Getting to really know a great group of diverse individuals from all over the world has not only shaped my perspective on current world issues, but has also allowed me to take a glance at certain topics from another angle and point of view.

read more

A Construction Science Major Turns Lessons into Opportunity after a Sustainability Study Abroad Program 

AJ Ewing spent his past Winter Break a little bit differently than most students, by studying abroad on our GREEN Nepal program. As a Construction Science major, AJ notes that he was nervous coming into the study abroad program having no prior experience in sustainability or electrical/solar grids, but he was excited and eager to learn. As soon as he arrived, all his nerves were gone as he was welcomed by our team and ready to dive in. Now, he can honestly say that when he thinks of The GREEN Program, he thinks of “family away from home.”

read more

How a Geologist Made His Sustainability Dream in Iceland a Reality through a Study Abroad Scholarship

As someone who is in a field with a limited representation of ethnic minorities, TGP created a neutral ground where there was a range of diversity on different levels. My GREEN Program experience in Iceland wasn’t just about the adventures and cultural immersion, but about the education too. I thoroughly enjoyed the lectures because I saw how passionate the different lecturers were about their work and research which is truly inspiring. As a geologist, learning more about the wonder that is Iceland in Iceland was definitely a dream come true.

read more

Get to Know GREENie: Maryam Aida Tidjani

Maryam Aida Tidjani got to experience a brand new kind of GREEN Program during the hard times the world was facing, a 100% Virtual and Online experience. Initially planning on traveling to Peru in 2021, the global pandemic continued to shift things around and we had to pivot all travel programs to Online experiences.

read more

Subscribe to The GREEN Program newsletter & updates

Skip to content