The Freshmen Fifteen

by Eco18

College is an interesting time. Moving to a new location, finding new friends, and signing up for new classes can be so stressful! Do you know what else is stressful? Those dreadful words..the “freshmen fifteen.”

For those of you who don’t know, the freshmen fifteen refers to the 15 pounds college students are said to put on in their first year of school. Well that’s all about to change. Let’s take the term “freshmen 15,” and take the focus off of weight. Instead, we’re going to make this  “the freshmen 15!”

Here’s 15 cheap and easy ways to keep up that green lifestyle with barely any money, and barely any sleep.

1. Pack your lunch.

Packing a lunch may seem like a daunting task at first. Of course there won’t be any love notes from your mother hidden in the sandwich baggie, but you can do it.

Try packing raw items and protein that will keep you hydrated, energized, and satisfied. One of the biggest mistakes that college students make, after pulling an all-nighter to finish that history paper, is trying to compensate their lack of energy with sugary drinks, and preservative filled snacks. But these snacks will just make it worse! Try the healthier alternative. Pack raw carrots and hummus, or some sweet and crunchy grapes to get you going.

2. Get outside on breaks.

Have an hour between classes? Go outside! Take a walk around the campus to stimulate blood flow in your legs and soak up some Vitamin D while you can. Generally, college students remain in a sitting position for over 50% of the day. According to the Washington Post, this can decrease healthy blood circulation, and cause disk and organ damage.

3. Carry around a reusable water bottle.

Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate. Most bookstores on campuses sell reusable water bottles. Invest in one! Sip on it throughout classes, during lectures, and during study time. Make it even more eco-friendly by purchasing a BPA-free bottle like these ones:

4. Invite friends over to cook

Going out to eat can be fun, but it can also be expensive and unhealthy. Try getting together a group of friends to pitch in on groceries. This way, meals are cheaper and healthier! Try this super easy grilled chicken recipe for dinner one night:

5. Ditch the cheap drinks. 

For those of age, try to stop purchasing copious amounts of diet soda’s and cheap liquor. Take how you feel in the morning as your first warning. Mixing liquor with diet soda is unhealthy and unsafe! Sugar-free mixers not only contain aspartame and harmful chemicals, but they also allow the alcohol to work into your bloodstream at a faster pace. Try using an all-natural fruit juice, and having one drink. Not five.

6. Cut up fruits and vegetables at the beginning of every week.

Try keeping reusable containers in the fridge. Prep by cutting up cucumbers, broccoli, radishes, and orange slices. Store them in containers and you’re set for the week! No more need for running to the nearest fast food place at 3 a.m., there’s already pre-made snacks in your fridge!

7. Turn off the electronics.

Sprawling out to watch a movie after an entire day of classes might feel like a good idea, but why not relax without the electronics? Try taking a 20-minute break after school. No television, no cell-phone, no laptop, no lights. It’s possible, I promise. Not only will this cut down on electricity usage, but it will also cut down on exposure to harmful LED lights. According to a Harvard Health Publication, high amounts of artificial light can harmfully affect your body’s circadian rhythm. This results in sleep difficulty, and has even been linked to heart disease and obesity.

8. Visit the local farmer’s markets on the weekends.

There are a ton of farmer’s markets out there; it’s just a matter of finding them! Try contacting the local grocer by your school and ask if they know of any local markets. It’s good to support your local community.

9. Host a trade party with your friends.

Everyone goes through phases in his or her younger years. Instead of just throwing out that studded jacket, host a trade party with your friends! Invite other students to bring a few items they no longer like, or fit into. This is a fun way to cut down on waste, save a few more dollars, and add some cute new clothes to your wardrobe!

10. Bring your own cup to the coffee shop.

Try to stop collecting paper coffee cups in your dorm. Try investing in a reusable, to-go coffee cup and bring it with you to the coffee shop! More often than not, coffee shops will cut the price of the drink when customers bring in their own cups. The cup is the most expensive part of your drink.

11. Start recycling on your floor.

Start a recycling calendar in your dorm. Make a schedule and pair names with dates. That way when the recycling starts to pile up, the roommates can know whose day it is to take it out!

12. Have D.I.Y. days.

Are everyday necessities getting too expensive? Have a D.I.Y. day every now and then and make your own bath, make-up, and cleaning products! This way you can save money, and cut out the harsh chemicals that are generally used in these everyday products. Check out these D.I.Y.’s for some awesome inspiration:

13. Search for healthy options in the dining hall.

Sure, the all you can eat mashed potato bar does seem appealing and it can be every now and then, just not every single night. Try swapping out an unhealthy side for a healthy alternative 3 times a week. Check out the steamed veggies, or sliced fruit as a side.

14. Bake your own breakfast.

Buying a muffin every morning can be expensive. Try baking some fiber filled muffins like these: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/savory_breakfast_muffins.html.

Make a batch and pop them in the freezer to keep them fresh. Nuke one in the microwave for about 15 seconds before heading out. That’s a healthy, and cheap breakfast!

15. Get plenty of sleep.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but seriously get enough sleep. Being a college student requires a ton of late-night study sessions and caffeinated drinks. If at all possible, try getting into bed half an hour earlier than normal. This will train your body to relax, and begin to wind-down at this time, allowing yourself to get a good nights rest.

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