As a student, you may not be able to afford a hybrid car, but there are plenty of small steps you can take to help the environment. To become an energy conscious student, adapt these practices to your everyday life.
Recycle. Students use a lot of paper each semester. From class notes to school newspapers to Internet print-outs, your paper consumption can add up pretty quickly. To really help the environment, save the paper and go electronic as much as possible. Use your laptop/tablet for note-taking and bookmark Internet pages instead of printing them out. When you have to use paper, always recycle. Many high schools and colleges have paper recycle bins around campus, so utilize them. Don't forget to recycle other items as well, such as cans and bottles.
Buy vintage. By purchasing items from thrift stores, not only will you be helping the environment, but you will also have a more unique wardrobe and bedroom/dorm/apartment than your peers. Buying items second-hand instead of brand new means no new manufacturing resources that create pollution and carbon emissions had to be used.
Purchase used textbooks. If you are a college student, be sure to buy used textbooks instead of new ones and sell them back at the end of the semester. Buying used books saves trees and money. Check out half.com and textbooks.com. Research companies that make a conscious effort to recycle and reuse textbooks. Bookbyte.com recycles textbooks, keeping them out of landfills and donates usuable textbooks to the "Rotary Books for the World" project.
Unplug idle electronics and chargers. Just because you aren't actively using an appliance, doesn't mean that it isn't using electricity. If it's plugged into an outlet, it's sucking power whether it's being used or not. To save money, waste less electricity, and cut down on your carbon emissions, unplug your cell phone charger, computer, TV, toaster, and lamps when you are not using them.
Save water. Water is a limited resource and is "recycled" through water treatment facilities. The more water we waste, the more energy we have to produce to run those facilities. Save water and energy by taking shorter showers, washing full loads of laundry, and turning off the faucet when brushing teeth and washing hands.
Walk, bike, or take the bus. Stop driving your car everywhere you need to go. If you live close enough to school, try walking or biking. Live a little farther away? Take mass transit. If you do have to drive your car, drive the speed limit in order to use less gas and roll down the windows instead of using the air conditioner.
Carry a refillable water bottle. Save money and the environment by using a refillable water bottle instead of buying bottled water. Bottled water leaves a huge carbon footprint because of the packaging and transportation.
Eat less meat. Out of this whole list, eating a vegetarian diet is the activity that will have the greatest impact on helping the environment. A United Nations report states that "meat production produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined." If you refuse to give up meat completely, you can still be green by avoiding meat just a few days a week.
Environmental issues are more important than ever. Be sure to do your part to help make our earth a better place to live.