Whether you’re a surfer, environmentalist, banker, or just a lover of single-use plastic, we’re all destined to leave some kind of carbon footprint behind us. As a college student, you’re probably well aware of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the radioactive fallout from Fukushima, and the seemingly never-ending oil spills around the world. Maybe you can’t do anything about these massive disasters, but below you’ll find six small changes you can make to become more eco-friendly in college that make a big difference.

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Master the Air-Dry Hairstyle

This one is primarily for the ladies and longhaired gentlemen. Hairdryers, curling irons, and straighteners are power-hungry electronics. Unless it’s cold outside, or you’ve got somebody to impress, try to avoid using these devices and you’ll save a lot of electricity.

Let your hair air dry in the summer, and toss it up in a loose braid or ponytail, or follow these tips for air-dried styles. (You could also consider showering a little less, but I’m not sure your roommates would forgive me.)

Use Reusable Bags

From the grocery store to the retail outlet and beyond, we shouldn’t be accepting these wasteful plastic bags any longer. Purchase a few decent-quality reusable bags that are lightweight enough to store in your purse so you’ll never leave them behind!

You can also find plenty of fashionable reusable bags that can be customized with your own design, which you can use for shopping, carrying your lunch, or as an overnight bag for your boyfriend’s.

Skip Bottled Water

In addition to the excess plastic of single-use bottles, it takes about 1.85 gallons of water to make the plastic bottle, which will end up holding just 12-16oz of water. Another estimate from 2006 states that it takes 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water. Doesn’t this seem a little crooked to you?

Plus, if you add in the oil and energy required to make the plastic, fill the bottles, and transport it to your local store, that’s one hefty carbon footprint! Grab yourself one reusable water bottle instead, and fill it up on campus several times a day. They’re cheaper and much better for the environment; you can surely find one at your local campus bookstore or you might even be able to score a free one at one of the many events on campus.

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Recycle

This is really all I’m going to say on the matter: recycle. Empty bottles of soda, Gatorade, and water (if you’re still using them), plastic ware, aluminum cans, clothes, towels, glass bottles, pizza boxes – you name it, recycle it.

Buy Less New Stuff

This is a hard one. We all want to be fashionable for big nights out on the town, but I encourage you to swap clothes back and forth with your friends or shop at thrift stores rather than hitting up the mall every other weekend.

Do you ever think about the 1,800 gallons of water required to make enough cotton for a single pair of jeans? Or about the metal zippers and buttons, and the synthetic dyes and embellishments that are destined to spend a dozen generations in a landfill? Try to re-purpose your own clothes, or make use of your friends’ closets rather than buying new.

Unplug Electronics

You’ve probably heard this before, but indicator lights and electronics on standby use a lot of “vampire” power just by being plugged into an outlet. Invest in a surge protector (which will also protect your appliances), and plug most of your electronics into it instead of the wall. Then, flip it off (or unplug it) overnight or when you leave the room, or whenever you’re not using the electronics.

It’s the same as unplugging each electronic, but easier. You’ll probably want to keep your mini-fridge and alarm clock plugged in at all times, though.

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