Going green without spending it: A student’s guide

Busy and living on a low budget; it’s not always easy being green as a student.

When not in classes many students struggle to support themselves, often juggling school work with part time jobs and extra-curricular activities, all while trying to maintain a social life. Whether environmental conscious or not, affording to live ‘greenly’ is sometimes seemingly impossible.

But fear not! We have consulted with some top green Ottawa sources to compile an easy guide that will help save money and the environment!

Jonathan Rausseo Sustainability Manager at Ottawa University, Phillip Rouble Associate Director Facilities Planning and Sustainability at Algonquin College’s, and Philip Mansfield Manager of the Sustainability Programs at Carleton University give us their top tips!

  1. Go Vegetarian OR Cut Back;

“If you cut back on your meat intake you can save a ton of money as well as reduce your ecological footprint”, say Rausseo. In ‘Environmental Impact of Meat’, Ethan Goffman explains that meat makes the greatest impact on our ecological footprint as “it takes up to ten times as much input-depending on the type of animal and the condition in which they’re raised- per unit of food as do fruit and vegetables, and consumes and outsized amount of energy.” Studies also show that “vegetarians have less obesity and lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other sickness than heavy meat eaters.” However, if you do turn veggie be sure to replace meat with a “mixture of complementary proteins.”

  1. Ditch Your Car. Use the Bus OR Walk!

“Bike and walk whenever you can. It’s much healthier, for you and the environment” says Rouble.  By taking the bus you can save up to 8000 dollars a year, while taking the bus will only cost you around a 1000 dollars a year! Aside from the financial strains of keeping a car, biking and/ or walking will not only reduce air pollution and take extra cars off the road, but it will make you more energized and fitter. “And if you absolutely have to drive – make sure you offer out a car share,” says Mansfield.

  1. Buy Second Hand Jeans OR Mend Them!

Need a new pair of jeans? Rousseo says to look no further than a second hand store! Old jeans, worn and torn? Instead of throwing them away get them mended!! It’ll save you money and the world a lot of water! “One pair of jeans takes ¾ of the amount of water used to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool,” says Rousseo. That’s around 2900 liters of water to produce ONE pair of jeans!

  1. Turn OFF for What? The Environment of course!

“There are so many small actions you can take around the house or apartment which add up to a big difference,” says Mansfield. “Turn the heating down a bit, and put on a sweater. Only fill the kettle as much as you need. Put a lid on a pan while you’re cooking pasta. Turn the plugs off when you leave the house. That sort of thing…Aside from saving carbon, using less energy saves you money on your bills.”

  1. Pack a Lunch

Rouble believes that such a simple habit will save you money, and reusing Tupperware or lunch bags cuts back on unnecessary waste. You will also find that packing one’s own lunch will allow you to be more conscious about the food you are consuming, and encourage you to eat healthier foods.

  1. Use Green Bins at Home

“Make using them a habit”, says Rouble. Every home in Ottawa has them, and instead of throwing your organics into the bin, toss them into the Green Bin! You will be amazing at how much it will cut back on your garbage, and leave you with a less stinky bin. The Green Bin is also beneficial because the composting waste can be returned to the ground, without the contamination of toxins and chemicals from plastics, metals and other non-organic items.

  1. Create Less Waste

“Buy what you use, don’t over buy,” cautions Rouble. Be conscious of what you need, what you use, and avoid buying excess. For example, when grocery shopping, only focus on what you know you will eat or need. Don’t buy in bulk and allow half of what you bought to go off. You will save money and food!

  1. Buy a Reusable Water Bottle

“Pick yourself up a water bottle! A reusable water bottle,” encourages Rouble. In her article, ‘Reusable Water Bottles Help You Go Green and Stay Healthy’, Anh Speer explains the impact of plastic water bottles. “To better understand the impact of plastic water bottle waste per year, visualize bottles lined up end to end in a straight line, it would wrap around the earth 190 times. Moreover, the plastic water bottles that were placed in the landfill today will take up to 1000 years to biodegrade,” says Speer. There is also the myth that bottled water is cleaner than tap water and “plastic water bottles can contain a chemical known as Bisphenol A (BPA) which can be very harmful to your health.” Speer also discovered that “on average, Americans spends about $5 a week on bottled water, this means you can save $260 per year by switching to a reusable water bottle,” while reusable water bottles which can between $3- $10, saving you loads of money.

  1. Support Local Food

When grocery shopping Mansfield suggests students look for local food! “Individually growing your own is a really effective way to contribute to a much lower-carbon food system. It’s also really fun. And if you’re not the green fingered type, then Farmers Markets held across Ottawa mean you can just buy local instead.”

  1. Be a Cool Environmentalist

“Be sure to do environmental things in a positive way,” says Rousseo. Go into nature and encourage your friends to join you! By appreciating nature the environmentalist in all of us is born!

Armed with these easy top tips you can save money, save your health and save the environment! By making these steps become habits, your actions will encourages others to do the same! Together these easy and low-budget efforts will make a huge positive impact on the environment.