10 Simple Ways To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint as a Student

Meaghan Weeden | September 6, 2022 | 5 min read


Going to college is a formative experience that can help you learn about the world, and find your place within it. But traveling to attend a school on the other side of the country (or world) doesn't need to stop you from reducing your carbon footprint. In fact, your college years are a great time to develop sustainable living habits that will help you be a lifelong friend of the planet. And by taking steps to lower your carbon footprint, you might just inspire your classmates to follow your example!

In addition to your coursework, an important part of college life is being exposed to (and sharing!) new ideas, attitudes and perspectives that you may not have previously been aware of. In this sense, it's more than just a place to learn: attending college or university is also a place to grow. If you're interested in sustainability and the environment, we encourage you to take advantage of any clubs, associations, or organizations on campus. One great way to get involved is by joining our network of Tree Ambassadors that hail from all around the world. You'll have opportunities to connect, make friends, organize fundraisers together and share your experiences with other nature lovers. 

Ready to make an impact? Keep reading for ideas on how to reduce your carbon footprint while at college.

how to reduce carbon footprint as a student

walk to school


If possible, leave your car at home and walk (or bike!) to your classes instead. Walking not only helps to reduce your carbon footprint, but is a great way to improve your health and engage with your new community.

cozy rug

2. Get a big, cozy rug

If your apartment or dorm room floor is cold, you're more likely to feel cold and dial up your thermostat. To avoid this, put a nice, warm rug on the floor β€” it'll insulate your living space and help to keep your feet warm.

warm comforter

3. Wrap Yourself Up in a Warm Comforter

Keep the cold at bay with a nice, warm (and eco-friendly) comforter! You'll be able to keep the thermostat lower β€” and you might just sleep better, too! Bonus: studies show that a cold room combined with a warm blanket lead to better sleep!

carbon facts

4. Switch to a Laptop

Did you know laptops use up to 90% less energy than desktop computers? If you've been using a desktop computer to write your papers and do research, consider making the switch. With a little research, you can find an inexpensive one that's more than adequate for your needs. 

reusable utensils

5. Reduce Waste by Avoiding Disposables

Instead of buying plastic water bottles or plastic water jugs, buy one good thermos and refill it with water, tea, or your favorite soup from the dining hall. If possible, also bring reusable utensils in your bag so you won't have to use the disposable cutlery and straws provided at the dining hall. If you're ready for more, check out our tips on zero-waste living.

oat milk


Dairy farms and cows are high-impact on the environment. Try reducing your meat and dairy intake a little bit at a time. And when you do consume dairy, make sure it's local and chemical-free. This simple switch is a major step towards having a sustainable dietβ€” and you just might find that you feel better, too!

reusable grocery bag

7. Purchase Sparingly

Do you really need that new bulletin board? How about that hat? When you're tempted to make a purchase, think carefully: will the item really add to your life, or will it just take up more space? For more inspiration, check out our tips on sustainable living for ways to live a more sustainable life.

thrift store

8. Forget Fast Fashion

We get it, you want to stay on trend and within your budget. But fast fashion comes at a high cost for the planet, including significant waste, heavy pesticide use, and a high shipping footprint. A much better option is to buy from sustainable brands or hit your local thrift store for quality, gently-used pieces that will help you look good and make a statement!

young woman eating vegetarian meal

9. Give Vegetables a Chance

Reducing your meat consumption is a simple and impactful way to reduce your carbon footprint. And what better place to do it than a college campus, where you have access to a variety of flavors from all around the world, every day? Try eating a few vegetarian meals a week to figure what you do and don't like.

woman reforestation volunteer fall


Planting trees is a great way to connect with the environment and reduce your carbon footprint. In celebration of Earth Day and Plant a Tree Day (as well as other times throughout the year), One Tree Planted offers tree planting events around the world. So be sure to check our community events page periodically so you have the opportunity to attend an event near you! 

By trying one or more of these tips, you'll reduce your carbon footprint even while you're in college. And by developing these habits when you're young, you'll be a lifelong steward of your local environmen. 

Want to do more? Consider becoming a Tree Ambassador with us or planting a tree today!

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

As the need for reforestation is global and ever-changing, we feature where trees are most needed now. For Treecember, we're planting trees that support a global forest fire recovery fund. Learn more

With your help, we will:

  • Reforest lands damaged by record-setting fires
  • Support healthy habitat for iconic biodiversity
  • Plant tree species that will helpΒ reduce future fire impact
  • This holiday season, we’re planting trees in areas around the world that have been severely affected by forest fires and aren't able to recover a healthy ecosystem on their own. The most common naturally-caused wildfires occur during droughts or dry weather, and under these circumstances, trees and other vegetation are converted to flammable fuel. Human-caused forest fires can be a result of various activities like unregulated slash and burn agriculture, equipment failure or engine sparks, and discarded cigarettes.

    After wildfires, reforestation is essential in areas where the fire intensity burned off available seed supply within the soil, and/or where there are not enough healthy trees still growing and producing new seeds nearby. Reforestation starts once professional assessments have been made to determine where human intervention would be the most ecologically beneficial. Help restore these vital ecosystems by planting a tree. 🌿
  • Every year, forest fires are increasing in size and severity, damaging vital ecosystems and creating a need for millions of trees. Some major consequences of forest fires include significant loss of wildlife, loss of vegetation, soil erosion, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

    With so much fire damage, reforestation is essential to catalyze the environmental recovery process. The trees are carefully planted to prevent invasive species from colonizing burn scars and restore quality habitat for native biodiversity. One Tree Planted is connecting with on-the-ground partners to establish viable reforestation projects when the recently affected regions are ready for planting. This fund will contribute to planting projects in British Columbia, Idaho, Ghana, Portugal, and beyond. Let's get to work! 🌲
  • A personalized tree certificate (see gallery) to say thanks for your donation. We'll also send you updates about this project, so you can track the impact your trees are having on the community and environment.
  • To maximize the impact of your donation, our partners on the ground will determine the most appropriate species of tree and shrubs. We only plant native tree species that will restore the local ecosystem, re-establish wildlife habitat, and reduce the likelihood of future fires.

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