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Three Ways College Students Can Connect with the Planet

Charlie Fletcher

Heading to college will open you up to a lot of new and positive experiences. Amid your learning opportunities and the new relationships you’ll build, it’s also important to consider your connection to the planet. While your university campus might be in an urban area, the natural world never stops being a vital resource. 

Finding ways to get closer to and protect the planet is something that’s mutually beneficial for college students and nature. Spending more time in wild spaces boosts your health but can also deepen your appreciation and motivation for stewardship. Similarly, adopting sustainable habits mitigates damage and gives you a sense of well-being. So, let’s look at a few great ways college students can connect with the planet.

Spending Time in Nature

One of the simplest ways you can connect with the planet as a college student is to spend more time in nature. It can be really easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of urban life, particularly if you’re attending college in a city. Making a little effort to step out of the streets and into the wild can both boost your appreciation of the natural world and have vast mental and physical health benefits

Hiking is a great place to begin. Consider doing a little research into what trails are near your college. The website of your local parks and recreation department is usually a good resource. Look into the distances and terrains of each trail, so you can make plans for walks you can fit into an afternoon or spend a little longer on during the weekend. If you’re attending a university away from your hometown, this can also be a great way to learn a little more about the ecosystems of your new location.

If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, camping is a fantastic way to truly immerse yourself in nature. It gives you more time to do outdoor activities — like birdwatching, hiking, and fishing — alongside the opportunity to sleep under the stars surrounded by the sounds and smells of the environment.

It’s important to make preparations for camping depending on the season, to stay safe and get the most from the experience. In the summer, you can plan to visit areas that give you longer outdoor adventures. Though, you’ll need to make sure you pack plenty of water, sunscreen, and breathable fabrics. In winter, you might need to take a thermal heater or choose a place that has hot springs, such as Yellowstone.

Adopting Sustainable Fashion and Beauty

Making sustainable fashion and beauty choices can help you to cultivate a more positive connection to the planet. This begins with recognizing why it is ethically and environmentally responsible to avoid fast fashion. While the items fast fashion and beauty brands make may be affordable and plentiful, these companies often generate excessive waste and release significant emissions during production. Not to mention that many factories making the products offer poor pay and safety conditions to their workers.

Therefore, it’s important to pay close attention to where you buy your fashion and beauty products and how they’re made. When purchasing from a new brand, do some online research into their corporate sustainability measures. If they’re not fully transparent about their activities and the improvements they need to make, this can be a red flag. Be particularly wary of brands that “greenwash” by using marketing that makes them appear sustainable while providing no evidence to back their claims.

Wherever possible, purchase your clothing items second-hand. Thrift and consignment stores can be great sources of good quality fashion. You’ll also be extending the lifespan of garments, which minimizes the impact unnecessary waste has on the planet. You can experiment with your style without breaking the bank, too!

Joining Community Initiatives

It can be easy to feel powerless in the face of relentless environmental damage, but you’re not. Community initiatives are a great way to work with others on environmental projects that encourage ecological stewardship and make a genuine difference. These might be green organizations on your college campus or initiatives run by wider city, county, or state nonprofits.

Some activities you can engage in might include:

  • Community clean-ups: Clean-up efforts are designed to undo or mitigate some of the damage of human activity. Some college campuses hold regular clean-up days to keep the local space waste free. But you can also make an impact by engaging in beach cleanup projects that address waste that harms animals and pollutes the oceans. Clean-ups in parks and forests are also vital for reducing human impact on natural habitats. 
  • Environmental lobbying: Government agencies and businesses have a role to play in reducing environmental damage of industries. One way you could make a difference is to join a lobbying group that seeks to inform organizations about the damage industries do and put pressure on them to change. This can be targeted activism demanding big brands divest from fossil fuels. It could also be as simple as organized posting in brands’ social media comments sections requesting they reduce their plastic use.

There’s a lot of damage being done to the environment by humans and multiple ways to help address it. Yet, don’t feel as though you have the responsibility to fill every spare moment you have with activism and stewardship activities. That’s just a recipe for burnout, particularly as you’re also balancing your studies. Environmental action is a shared responsibility. Be realistic about what you can manage and engage in activities that fit in with your schedule, energy, and priorities. Even a little action makes a difference.


Connecting with the planet during your time at college is beneficial to you and the natural world around you. You can simply spend more time appreciating nature on camping trips, alongside engaging in environmental initiatives, among other measures. Importantly, talk about your activities and routines with others on your campus. Sharing practical and interesting actions may encourage others to engage, boosting the impact of your natural connection.

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