Going green as a college student is not affordable


Brionna Belcher

Whether the options are there or not, when faced with the average time and money constraints of an average student, sustainable living is not affordable.

By Ally Formeller

For Gen Z, climate change and being eco-friendly are understandably important issues, but going green is simply too expensive for most college students. 

The average budget of a college student likely isn’t very high ― I know mine isn’t. 

Despite this, the majority of Gen Z shoppers are the most willing to spend more on sustainable products, according to a report by FirstInsight.  

In my experience, this isn’t true. When I go shopping, price is the first thing I think about, not sustainability. 

Of course, inflation is already making products more expensive, according to Reuters. On top of that, “green” products tend to cost more than they have to in order for companies to make a big enough profit, according to Kearney, a global consulting firm.  

For example, Target carries a line of sustainable soap products from The Honest Company, which cost $15.99 each. 

These products usually have higher costs due to ingredient assessments and sustainable processes. Within these processes, the company chooses materials that are sustainable and not chemically damaging in any way. Manufacturing processes go through the same scrutiny.

Consumers don’t just see higher prices for sustainable soaps and beauty products — sustainable crops and food items can be a lot more expensive, too, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. 

Understandably, prices reflect the cost of labor and other processes needed to make a product sustainable, so prices for items that take more expensive materials or more laborious processes to manufacture cost more. 

However, I simply don’t have the budget to spend $15.99 on one bottle of soap, and most other college students probably don’t, either. 

To be fair, students can live sustainably and eco-friendly in ways that don’t require them to spend a lot of money. 

For example, students can buy a reusable water bottle instead of bottled water, walk instead of drive and use reusable cloth shopping bags to carry groceries. 

Still, being eco-friendly means changing behaviors and likely spending more money, which is already a challenge for most Americans, according to Pew Research Center. 

Sustainability isn’t just a money problem, either. Many students have to commute to school, and others may live in apartment complexes that don’t recycle. 

In order for people to make eco-conscious choices, there has to be an eco-conscious choice available for them to make,” said Allison Stine in a Guardian article. “For many places, especially in rural and impoverished America, those choices simply don’t exist, not yet.”

Being climate-conscious is important, but doing so is usually far too expensive, both monetarily and in resources, on a college student’s budget. 

Whether the options are there or not, when faced with the average time and money constraints of an average student, sustainable living is not affordable.