Top 7 Sustainable Products for College Students

A couple months ago, I wrote an article listing 10 ways college students can incorporate sustainability into their day-to-day lives. I will be expanding on that idea here. 

In recent years, companies have responded to the need to be more sustainable by creating environmentally-friendly products. I’ve compiled a list of seven sustainable products that college students can incorporate into their daily routines: 

1. Water bottles: Ditch the plastic water bottles for a stainless steel alternative. Many of these bottles keep their contents cold all day or hot for a large portion of the day. Hydro Flasks are very popular among college students. They come in many colors but can be on the pricier side. For a cheaper alternative that does the same thing, check out Ozark Trail’s water bottles. 

2. Silverware: Students are in the B & G at all hours of the day due to its convenience and variety of options. However, this also increases the amount of single-use plastic utensils we use on campus. One way to avoid this is to invest in a set of bamboo utensils that you can stick in your backpack or purse and take with you. The set comes with a fork, spoon, knife, and set of chopsticks in a carrying case made out of recycled plastic bottles. If bamboo’s not your thing, there are reusable utensils made of wheat straw or your typical stainless steel complete with metal straws and a cleaning brush!

3. Toothbrush: Toothbrushes are another disposable plastic item taking up space in landfills. Even electric toothbrushes have disposable plastic heads. A more biodegradable alternative is  bamboo toothbrushes, which are made of organic bamboo and have bristles with activated charcoal. One version for sale  has non-charcoal bristles. Both kinds of bamboo toothbrushes have a way to distinguish toothbrushes among family members or roommates, such as colored bristles or engraved numbers. 

4. K-Cup: Most college students use coffee to fuel them through early morning classes and late night study sessions. However, the K-cups (used specifically in Keurigs to brew a single cup of coffee) that have become popular in recent years are not eco-friendly at all; they’re a single-use item that’s made of plastic. Invest in a reusable K-cup to reduce your impact on the environment. I have this one that works in a majority of Keurig and Keurig-like machines, but check out the compatibility chart to be sure! Mine  holds 32% more coffee than a normal K-Cup, which is great for making bigger cups of coffee. 

5. Pens (and Pencils): Whether it’s for taking notes or exams, college students use a plethora of pens and pencils throughout the semester. Most pens and mechanical pencils are made of plastic. To combat that, Pilot makes pens that are almost entirely (89%) made of recycled water bottles. I prefer to use mechanical pencils, but these wood pencils from Sprout have me reconsidering my choice. These pencils have lead made of 100% natural clay and graphite; they are made out of wood that is certified by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The best part is that they contain seeds that can be planted once the pencil gets too small to use! There are herb and flower seeds in each package. Finally, some have quotes on them, while others come in a range of colors

6. Straws: We see plastic straws everywhere, in our iced coffee, iced tea, and fountain drinks. It’s no secret that they’re not good for the environment or marine life. Alternatives made of stainless steel and glass have become more popular recently. I got these straws about a month ago and they’re amazing. They are telescopic, so they collapse down and fit into a small container that can be put on a keychain, purse, or backpack. There are other stainless steel straws that don’t collapse and are perfect for keeping in your kitchen. Finally, there are glass straws that can be kept in the kitchen but are not really recommended for travel. 

7. Shopping Bags: College students go shopping a lot, whether it’s to get essential items or as a distraction from studying. However, plastic bags are one of the most commonly found trash in the ocean. Reusable shopping bags can be purchased or made as an earth-friendly option. These days, most grocery stores offer reusable bags with their logos that can be bought near the checkout. Another option is making them yourself; they can be made out of old T-shirts or any kind of fabric. Either way, you’ve got yourself a cute shopping bag free of plastic! 

These seven products are a very small sampling of the hundreds of sustainable products. Others include reusable Q-Tips, plastic wrap, and eco-friendly cleaning and beauty products. If everyone starts using just a few of these products, we’ll be well on our way to reducing the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills, on the side of the road, or in the ocean.