How to reduce your carbon footprint as a student – and save money too!

  • Date: May 14, 2022

Being a student is an ideal time to develop green habits that will, hopefully, last a lifetime. From transport options to IT changes, there are several simple changes you can make that will, in some cases, save you money too! It’s a win-win. Let’s have a look.

Getting around

Its difficult to find an eco-friendlier mode of transport than walking. As well as being green it is also great exercise AND free – what’s not to like?! For freshman students it also provides a great opportunity to get to know your new surroundings. Skateboards and bicycles make a quicker (and more fun…) green alternative. Although, this may involve an initial outlay and possible maintenance costs. However, if driving to class is the only option – why not share the ride? Carpooling with roommates may reduce flexibility, but your fuel costs will go down as well as your carbon footprint.

Ditching disposables

Using reusable products can drastically cut waste – new products are being developed all the time to help people ditch disposables. Saving money is likely to be a priority as a student – and, fortunately, acting in an ecofriendly way can significantly cut your costs. One great way to do this is to buy a long-lasting, good quality thermos and refill it at your accommodation, saving money on your daily takeaway coffee or bottle of water. A wide range of reusable bottles are available to suit your drink of choice. Taking your lunch to class in a reusable lunch box will also save money, and potentially be healthier, whilst avoiding the excess packaging of an over-priced, shop-bought lunch. 

Energy saving IT ideas

In terms of coursework a computer is likely to be an essential, however the ways that these are used can be tweaked to reduce your digital carbon footprint. The main way to ensure that you are consuming less energy is to alter your power settings – ensuring that your computer is on sleep or hibernation mode whilst grabbing a coffee or a quick break will save energy whilst turning it off when not using it for extended periods of time will conserve even more. Reducing the screen brightness setting can also save energy in addition to reducing the likelihood of eyestrain.

Using a laptop instead of a desktop computer will also reduce your carbon footprint. As well as the more obvious benefits of a laptop over a desktop – their portability, saved space and better resale value – laptops also have environmental benefits. Laptops use up to 90% less energy than their desktop counterparts making them a much eco-friendlier choice.

If you are using a printer, make sure that you select on that has easily re-fillable ink cartridges. Most people throw away the ink cartridge when it runs out – however, if this ends up in landfill it can take hundreds of years to degrade. By using a re-filling kit, easily found online, you can avoid your cartridge ending up in landfill and save money at the same time! Better still, why not become as paper-less as possible? Although not practical all the time, every time you go to print something ask yourself if you really need a hard copy or if you can do without. Going paper-less can extend to other areas of life, such as bank accounts, creating a clutter-free dorm room or apartment.


You may be new to paying your own heating bills if you have only ever lived with your parents – it may come as a shock! The simple things are often the most effective when keeping warm in the winter months. Wear extra layers. The warmer you are, the less heating you will need. Treat yourself to a nice warm blanket too. It may even help your studies – research shows that a warm comforter and a colder room can result in a better night sleep. Zzzzzzzz.

Sustainable fashion

Fast fashion – the rapid production of high quantities of clothing – has a significant environmental impact. As well as the carbon required to make the clothes, many garments end up in landfill when new fashion trends emerge. Although sustainable fashion brands are available, they ultimately still require resources to produce the clothes. Why not shop second-hand? As well as finding vintage gems and high-quality clothes you will also be, in some cases, contributing to charity in the process.

Dietary changes

It is well documented that a vegan diet is the most effective way of reducing your impact on the environment. However, this does not mean you need to give up meat entirely. By reducing it gradually – for example, by taking part in initiatives like Meatless Monday or by incorporating more veg into your meat-based meals – you can have an impact on the planet. As well as cutting down meat intake, switching to more high-quality organic meat that is less intensively farmed will also have a positive effect.

If you don’t want to cut out meat at all you can make changes to ensure you minimize food waste. Food waste can have massive implications for the environment. You can either make simple changes like planning a weekly menu, or be more creative.

The bottom line

Being a student can be stressful with a limited budget – any little savings can help. Luckily, small changes to your daily life can not only reduce your carbon footprint but also reduce your daily expenditure. Simply walking to class or re-filling a water bottle can have a small, but cumulative, effect on your bank balance and the planet whilst building great habits for the future! Give it a go.