Jodie: 7 budget-friendly ways to save the environment

Jodie Powell
Jodie completed her Graduate Diploma of Learning and Teaching (Primary) with USQ in 2015 and is now a qualified teacher passionate about holistic education for all children. When not hiking or otherwise enjoying the great outdoors, you'll find her relaxing with a good book or cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

With limited budgets combined with bills and uni expenses to pay, I’m sure that becoming an environmental superhero isn’t at the top of most students’ ‘to do’ list. The thing is, though, it really should be. 

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to shell out the big bucks (or a single cent actually) to take care of our environment. In fact, you’ll likely save money in the ‘going green’ process! All it takes are some easy tweaks to what you do every day.

I’ve got you sorted with these seven practical suggestions:

Photo source: Garry Knight

1. Get your fitness on

Walk or cycle whenever possible and in addition to reducing air pollution, you’ll get some exercise and save precious $$ (fuel and parking isn’t cheap!). Need to go further than you can reasonably walk or cycle? Then carpool instead. If 2 people ride together instead of driving separately, that’s a 50% reduction in air pollution contributions. The environmental benefits are obviously increased by each additional commuter that opts to car pool with you. Better yet, use public buses and trains for longer journeys and take advantage of your student discount!

Photo source:

2. Wise up

If you’re anything like me, a shower is a welcome opportunity to relax and unwind (while getting clean, of course). The problem is, every second that goes by is quite literally water down the drain. I make a conscious effort to speed things along in order to save water. I’ve gotten into the habit of turning the tap off while brushing my teeth and playing a favourite song while showering, racing to have the taps off by the time the last note chimes. Being water wise can be fun!

3. Go dark

Did you realise that it takes energy to make every minute spec of colour on your computer screen, including white? Well it does, which means that the more black (and dark) areas you have on your screen, the less energy that is required. An eco-friendly search engine,, uses a black background in order to be more energy efficient. It looks just like the ever-popular Google and is even powered by it so you’ll get the same results, just in a more eco-friendly way. You can also lower the brightness of your computer screen to conserve energy.

Photo source: Oakley Originals

4. Grow your own

What could be healthier than fresh fruit and veg straight from your own organic garden! By growing your own, you’ve eliminated the need for transport from the farm to the store and your home, effectively lowering pollution levels. What’s more, you can use the fruit and veg scraps for compost, which will reduce your landfill contribution and improve the soil you’re growing in. If you’re tight on space, herbs can be effortlessly grown in pots on your windowsill and lots of vegies grow nicely in pots (think lettuce, onions, tomatoes…) or deep bins (potatoes) on a balcony.

Photo source: Nicholas Liby

5. Switch off

How many times have you finished watching TV or editing that nagging assignment draft on your computer and just walked away, leaving it on for when you might come back in an hour or more? I’d say that most of us are guilty of this, though unconsciously so. We do it with the radio, the air-con/heater, even the lights in the room. Make a conscious decision to switch off the electronic devices in your home and workplace when you’re not using them. Not only will you be saving the environment, but you’ll notice a difference when the electricity bill comes as well.

6. Reuse, repurpose or recycle

Are you still using supermarket plastic bags for your shopping? Buying bottled water when you’re out and need to hydrate? Why not buy a reusable tote for your shopping (they’re much stronger) and a reusable water bottle (a lot of bottled water is of similar quality to tap water anyway). You’ll be saving the environment by reducing the amount of plastics that end up in landfill. And don’t forget that you can repurpose just about anything when it gets to the end of its natural life (my old teapot makes for a unique plant pot!). When repurposing just isn’t possible, recycle, recycle, recycle!

Photo source: Donna Tomlinson 

7. Be smart and creative

So many of us (un)consciously throw out food each and every week. Food that is no longer fresh obviously doesn’t belong on the dinner plate, but by shopping more wisely, we can minimise (or ideally eliminate) fresh food reaching its end before we’ve had the chance to eat it. We can start by buying smaller quantities and getting creative with leftovers (old bananas make delicious banana cakes and leftover bolognaise sauce is great for lasagne!). You can even freeze leftovers and pull them out on those evenings when you just don’t feel like cooking.

When living on a student budget, every dollar counts. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be making a difference to our environment on a daily basis. By following my super easy and practical tips, you can be both good to the earth and your budget at the same time.

Don’t forget to check out USQ’s commitment to the environment and the different ways that you can go green with your studies here.


Let's go green! Pinterest board

Laurie: Op shop donations done right

The Stingy Student Series Part 1: Meal plan like a Masterchef