Protecting Our Planet Starts with You – Simple Actions for Students to Make Big Impacts

Written by Rylee Lay

College is arguably one of the most exciting times in young adulthood! While you are making lifelong friends and pursuing your passions, this is also the perfect time to develop lifelong healthy and sustainable habits that can have lasting impacts for you and the environment. Some of those habits can focus on reducing your carbon footprint.

Here are a few great tips to help yourself get started:

  1. Get a Breath of Fresh Air:
    With the pedestrian-only Pearl Street mall and over 150 miles of hiking trails, Boulder has a national reputation for being a Gold-Level Walk Friendly Community. On top of that, Boulder has an average of 300 sunny days per year. One of the easiest changes you can implement in your schedule as a college student is opting to walk, bike, or take public transportation to class, instead of driving your personal vehicle, all while soaking up those 300 days of sunshine!

  1. Dont Crank up the Thermostat:
    In the winter months, try limiting the use of your thermostat by stocking up your dorm or apartment with cozy blankets and comforters. This can save you money, and the planet! Plus, who doesn’t like being under a warm blanket in a cold room?

  1. Re-use and Refill!
    The average reusable water bottle holds 32 oz of water, as opposed to the 16 oz of a throw-away plastic bottle. With twice as much the water, you are saving from using twice as many disposables. That can add up fast!

  1. Avoid fast fashion:
    Boulder is home to so many unique thrift stores. Before you place that next Shein order, consider visiting a local thrift store such as Common Threads or Rags Consignment to pick up something pre- loved and vintage. In 2020, the fast fashion industry emitted nearly 1.7 billion tons of CO2 per year (

  1. Turn it Off:
    Make sure to switch off lights and turn off appliances when you aren’t using them. It’s that simple!

  1. Give it a Rest:
    Power down your computer or laptop when not in use. Did you know that a computer that is shut down uses 65% less power than one left on idle or sleep mode?

  1. Recycling:
    CU Boulder is equipped with hundreds of recycling containers all across campus. Simply throw your recyclables into their designated bins! If you are curious about the recycling process at CU, you can find more information here.

    You can also recycle or refurbish any old electronics at Blue Star Recyclers – Eco-Cycle CHaRM, Boulder, CO   A 501c3 nonprofit social enterprise. Our mission is to create local jobs for people with disAbilities by recycling and refurbishing electronics.

  1. Support like-minded businesses, make a day of it!
    Start with coffee and a hike, then grab some sandwiches and do some shopping, then end your day with a bike ride and a beer. While you’re relaxing at the tap room, take a moment to donate to Carbon Cut Colorado and cut some of that carbon footprint from everything in-between!

    Conscious Coffees Sourcing our green coffee with Cooperative Coffees is a cornerstone of our business. Since joining Cooperative Coffees in 2003, we have not only eliminated middle men in the value chain by importing directly, we have also been able to create and maintain long-term relationships with individual farmer organizations. Buying coffee from the same producer partners, year after year, enables us to maintain consistent quality and also guarantee the farmers a reliable source to sell their harvests.

    Organic Sandwich Company Creating fresh, gourmet, organic sandwiches is our thing. We believe you are what you eat which means our food is made with only the purest ingredients to satisfy a hungry belly. We support our local farmers and give back to our community so we can all thrive together.

    Fair Trade Winds – Pearl Street We care about family. We’re a family business that considers all of our artisan partners and customers as members of one big extended family. We’re all on this planet together and when we work cooperatively we can create incredible change!

    Upslope Brewing In 2008, Matt Cutter, Henry Wood and Dany Page, kissed their homes in Cleveland, Atlanta and Argentina goodbye to bring their beer-brewing love affair to Boulder, Colorado. With that, Upslope Brewing Company was born. They believe that the more you go out exploring the earth, the more likely you are to take care of it. That’s why we package all our beers in 100% recyclable cans, perfect for transporting wherever the trail may take you. And it’s why, from the water and energy we use to the waste we make, we do everything possible to leave a mark with our beer, not our footprint.

    Carbon Cut Colorado Balance Your Carbon. Impact Your Community. When you cut your carbon through Carbon Cut Colorado you support energy-efficiency upgrades for income-qualified families. Your donation goes directly to Energy Resource Center and each of their upgrades reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere. You’re helping people and the planet with one quick action!

    Boulder County is also home to the PACE initiative- Partners for a Clean Environment.
    Businesses who have been PACE certified have committed to implementing environmentally sustainable practices! Visit for a complete list of local businesses that are also taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint.

Reducing your carbon footprint as a college student doesn’t have to be hard or expensive! Start implementing these tips one step at a time and you’re already on your way to making your environment and community a better place.

I’m a recent college graduate who thinks it’s crucial to take responsibility for our carbon footprint for my own future and future generations!
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