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7 Personal Goals to Make a Real Environmental Impact

Making an environmental impact as a student isn't hard with some daily personal habit changes. Here are seven goals to incorporate into your routine.

College is a time for academic growth, but it’s also an opportunity for personal development and contributing to the community. The growing concern of climate crises is a particularly important topic among Gen Z and Millennials, and everyone’s role in contributing to sustainability is more important than ever as the effects of climate change become increasingly evident. Here are seven of the best environmental goals any student can commit to that make a great impact.

1. Actually reduce, reuse, recycle

A fundamental aspect of making a positive environmental impact involves actively participating in recycling programs. Many secondary schools and college campuses provide designated bins for paper, plastic, glass, and metal, making it easy for students to sort their waste properly. Take the initiative to educate your peers about the importance of recycling and the positive effects it has on reducing landfill waste. By repurposing and donating used belongings, you can extend the life span of products and minimize overall environmental impact.

To enhance recycling initiatives, try collaborating with local businesses to establish more comprehensive waste management systems. Creating a culture of conscientious waste disposal can inspire positive change and ensure recycling efforts in your community are effective in the long run. Engaging in these practices benefits the environment and establishes a sense of shared responsibility among your peers.

2. Practice energy-saving habits

Energy conservation is a key aspect of environmental responsibility. Simple yet effective energy-saving habits are one of the most straightforward environmental practices students can do. Turning off lights and electronics when you’re not using them, switching to energy-efficient bulbs and appliances, and making the most of natural light during the day all contribute to reducing electricity consumption.

You can also advocate for and participate in school-wide energy-saving initiatives, like installing solar panels or adopting energy-efficient technologies. By being mindful of your usage, you can actively contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the overall environmental footprint of your school. Electricity-efficient habits can also lead to cost savings, and a school can then redirect these savings toward further sustainability efforts, creating a positive feedback loop that encourages continuous improvement.

3. Use your voice

Advocating for change is crucial to making a positive impact. Form or join student-led environmental advocacy groups to provide a platform for collective action. These groups organize awareness campaigns, workshops, and events to educate the campus community about sustainability. Franchising sustainable initiatives is a powerful strategy students can use to amplify their efforts. Learners can leverage existing frameworks at their school to implement impactful change by establishing partnerships with national or even international eco-friendly organizations and benefitting from shared resources.

Related: How You Can Pursue Activism as a Student in High School or College

4. Shop second-hand whenever possible

Fast fashion is a massive contributor to environmental degradation, with the textile industry being one of the largest sources of industrial pollution globally. But you can make a positive impact by shifting toward second-hand shopping. Thrift stores, social platforms, vintage shops, and clothing swaps offer sustainable alternatives to fast fashion. Choosing second-hand clothing reduces the demand for new production, minimizes textile waste, and decreases the carbon footprint of manufacturing and transporting new products. It’s also a cost-effective way to express your style and add unique pieces to your closet.

5. Eat less meat

Shifting to a more plant-based diet is a surefire way to contribute to eco-friendliness. You don’t have to cut meat from your diet completely, but incorporating meat-free days into your schedule can go a long way. Livestock agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and veggie alternatives can help mitigate the environmental impact of intensive animal farming. Embracing a plant-based lifestyle is linked to lower water and land usage, further contributing to conserving vital resources. Research also shows that vegetarian and vegan alternatives tend to be more budget-friendly than meat, making it a great way for students to cut costs too.

Related: The Ultimate Vegetarian and Vegan Guide to Good Eating in College

6. Switch to digital

In an age dominated by technology, it only makes sense to switch to digital platforms rather than pen and paper. Producing physical materials contributes to deforestation and excessive resource consumption. By embracing ebooks, online articles, and digital notetaking, you can help minimize the negative impact associated with the production, transportation, and disposal of traditional printed materials. The shift to digital benefits the planet and offers the convenience of accessing your resources at the touch of a button.

7. Invest in reusable plastics

With single-use plastics plaguing the environment, it’s smart to invest in reusable alternatives. Research studies predict that by 2050, there may be more plastic in the ocean than fish if current consumption patterns continue. Switching to reusable water bottles, containers, shopping bags, and utensils is a great way to drastically reduce plastic pollution. While the initial cost of a reusable water bottle or coffee cup may seem high, the long-term savings are substantial. Plus, carrying a reusable cup or bottle shows your commitment to the environment, sparking conversations and inspiring others to make similar choices. These reusable items are also available in various styles, making sustainability more fun and personal to you.

Related: 5 Ways Everyone Can Fight for the Environment

You can contribute to environmental sustainability and reduce life costs by adopting more eco-friendly daily habits in high school, college, and beyond. The results of climate change will likely become more evident in your lifetime, so start making changes as soon as you can and leave the planet a little greener for future generations.

Did you know you can win free money for college with your sustainability efforts? Start searching for opportunities using our Scholarship Search tool

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About Beth Rush

Beth Rush is a Florida-based writer, editor, and content manager at Body+Mind. Her primary beats include fitness, nutrition, mental health, parenting, and wherever any of these subjects intersect. You can read more of her work on her personal website.


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