As Kermit the Frog once said, “It isn’t easy being green!” He’s absolutely right – going green and making environmentally-conscientious choices can be tough for everyone, but is especially difficult for college and university students who have limited budgets.

We’d all like to do our part to help conserve our environment, but trimming your ecological footprint often puts a strain on your wallet. Have you ever noticed the difference in cost between organic and non-organic produce at your local supermarket? Those organic apples are sans-pesticides, additives and wax, but can cost up to one dollar more per pound than those that are non-organic. And the reusable shopping bags that you’ll purchase to carry your organic apples home will cost you around one dollar per bag – as opposed to buying 20 plastic bags (most grocers charge around five cents per bag) for the same price.

If saving the environment means dishing out more green (pun intended!), why have so many people joined the environmental movement? Well, I’m sure we can all agree that the answer is pretty clear: a healthier, more sustainable planet is worth any investment, large or small. Fortunately, there are many simple and affordable ways that students with small budgets can make big changes in their daily lives. Here are some of my favourite tips and tricks for being green and saving green while you’re away at school:

Support local farmers – Skip the supermarket and head to your local farmer’s market to indulge in fresh, seasonal foods grown and made in your area! Not only will you support local growers and businesses, but you’ll likely save a few bucks, too. As an added bonus, local produce is often organically grown! The Brantford Farmer’s Market is located just steps from campus at 79 Icomm Drive, and is open Fridays and Saturdays year-round.

Shabby-chic is in! – Part of the fun in going away to university is jazzing up your dorm room. Rather than buying all-new furnishings and decor, check out thrift shops (or raid your grandparents’ attic) for used treasures that will add character to your new space, at a fraction of the cost! Reusing and recycling old items significantly reduces the environmental side effects of manufacturing new ones. There are several thrift shops near campus – take a stroll and see what you can find! Or, check out Kijiji.com and browse thousands of classified ads in your area…no sign-up required, and it’s 100% free to search or post ads!

Do it because you can – If you’re living in residence or off-campus housing, it’s likely that energy costs are included in your monthly rent payments. When we’re not the ones paying the bills for heat, hydro and water, we’re less conscious of how we use these resources. Make an effort to cut back on energy consumption whenever you can. Simple actions like using energy efficient bulbs, using your computer’s energy savings feature, or turning off the taps while you brush your teeth can effectively reduce the amount of energy you use, at no cost to you! We’ll bet your landlord will be happy, too!

Overall, the most important thing you can do to be green on a tight budget is to share your green attitude with your friends and peers. Encourage your roommates to recycle, share or swap textbooks with classmates, and, mostly importantly, encourage your school’s leaders to adopt environmentally-friendly methods, as well.

Calyn Pettit is a fourth-year journalism student at Laurier Brantford and runs a not-for-profit, web-based community resource guide, The Green Space, that supports ecologically-conscious living in urban communities. To sign up for the Green Space newsletter, send an email to calyn@hamiltongreenspace.ca.