Monday, September 11, 2017

10 Ways to Change the World While You're Still in College

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, aka sponsored links that help keep Haley Marie Blog alive. But don't worry: all of the opinions are still my own!

Hello, beautiful! If there's one thing I know all my readers share, it's the ambition and determination to be a force for change in the world. Whether it's majoring in bio so you can help cure cancer or joining a social justice organization to stick up for human rights, Haley Marie Blog is written for girls like you who want to change the world! 

That being said, it's easy to feel powerless when you're in college. After all, we're almost universally overwhelmed by studying, extracurriculars, work, tuition and student loans. (IDK about you, but my student debt is a lot bigger than I feel most of the time.)

However, even if you don't have the time, resources or opportunity to become the next Malala or Melinda Gates, there are plenty of small micro-actions you can take while still in college to help make the world a better place. From getting involved on campus to practicing educated consumerism, here are ten ways you, too, can change the world from the comfort of your dorm room!

1. Join a service organization.

No matter what you're interested in, I can 95% guarantee your college offers a group for people like you - and if not, start one! Lots of service organizations have plenty of resources on their website to help you start your own chapter at your college or university. Some of my fave organizations? Girl Up, Generation Citizen and Peer Health Exchange, which all have chapters at BU.

2. Shop cruelty-free.

How cruel is your makeup bag? If you're a fan of brands like Benefit, L'Oreal or anything owned by Proctor & Gamble, you might be surprised at the number of animals harmed to bring you your favorite lipsticks and eyeshadow palettes. Thankfully, some of my favorite brands like Too Faced, Tarte, Wet 'n' Wild and NYX are committed to bringing you humane beauty products that actually work. To see some of my favorite products from these brands, click through their links - and for a full list of cruelty-free brands you can trust, check out this list from Cruelty-Free Kitty, which is constantly being updated with the latest news in cruelty-free! 

(P.S. Watch Hannah Witton's candid YouTube vid of her tossing her cruelty-free makeup products for an eye-opening laugh!)

3. Brew your own coffee.

Brewing your own coffee at home is great financial advice - but did you know it's also a great way to help change the world? The primary reason is because you can control what brands of coffee you buy, to ensure you're getting your fave beans fair trade. If you haven't heard of fair trade products before, Fair Trade Certified products come with a guarantee that the product was produced under fair labor practices, direct trade (instead of distributing product through a middleman or oppressive corporation) and without harmful agrochemicals or GMOs. For more information on Fair Trade Certification, click to check out Fair Trade USA's list of FAQs. (And pro tip: Starbucks coffee is also fair-trade if you're an espresso snob like me!)

4. Sign up for L.

To take your ethical shopping to the next level, donate those icky, chemical-laden tampons and Trojans under your sink and sign up for an L. subscription instead. L.'s pads, liners, tampons and condoms are organic and chemical-free, minus the gender cliches. For every box you purchase, one is donated to a female entrepreneur in a developing country (because in case you didn't know, AIDS and teen pregnancy are some of the top reasons girls drop out of school in African nations, where condoms can go out of stock for two-to-three months at a time). Personally, I use L.'s monthly subscription service, where for just $10.95 per month (and free shipping!) I can choose any combination of pads, tampons and liners I need (and also skip a month whenever my cabinet's looking a lil full). To get your second box of L.'s hygiene products 100% free, click here to sign up to try L.

Oh, and L.'s condoms get phenomenal reviews, too. (I can neither confirm nor deny, since I have a latex allergy; as of now, they only offer latex - but who can argue with "the best condoms ever"?) 

5. Buy school supplies from Yoobi.

Next time you need a notebook, highlighters or yet another pack of post-it notes for class, turn to a brand that will donate that item one-for-one to a child in need. Not only is Yoobi's stationery absolutely adorable, but it's a simple way to help the public school system thrive. For example, did you know that 99% of teachers purchase essential classroom materials out of their own pockets? So, feel free to treat yo self to some gel pens or throwback erasers - because, you know, it's for a good cause and all.... *Spends $50 on stationery I don't need.* 

6. Try alternative spring break.

Most schools have a program that allows you to spend your spring break traveling with a group of students to perform service in a different state, or even country. Though it might sound like a drag to give up your spring break, these trips can actually be super fun, life-changing experiences! One of my best friends from home went on alternative break last year in Tennessee with a group of her best friends - but even if you don't know the people you're traveling with, it's an amazing way to meet new people and explore a new place while helping those less fortunate than you. Search your school's website (try the community service center to start) for a preexisting program - or petition your university to start one if they don't have one already! 

7. Run a 5K.

We all know exercise is good for us, but my favorite type of exercise is exercise that benefits others, too! This fall, I'm captaining my sorority's team for the Samaritans, Inc. 5K. Samaritans is a Boston-based organization that works to prevent suicide through its 24/7 helpline and provides support services to those who have lost loved ones to suicide. (Click here to donate to Samaritans through our team - every donation helps, no matter how small!) Even if you're not a runner, you can join or start a team for a 5K and work your way up. (For an added bonus, train using the Charity Miles app, which tracks the miles you've run via GPS and donates money to a charity of your choice accordingly!) 

8. Start a Relay for Life team.

Last year, Relay for Life was hands-down THE most fun service event I attended through Theta (it's where I got to know my roommate Arielle!). There was walking, chatting, henna and games, as well as the most beautiful ceremonies to honor loved ones who lost their battle with cancer. I highly recommend seeing if your school has a Relay for Life and starting a team - and if you don't have a Relay for Life at your school, check out the Relay for Life campus page to discover even more ways to get involved.

9. Go vegan!

In case you didn't know, I have been fully vegan with no slip-ups for about five months now. However, the very first time I tried to go vegan, way back in high school, was after I saw the film Cowspiracy. I watched it with my best friend from home, who is also vegan/vegetarian, and was shocked to find the enormous impact that eating animal products - yes, even if you don't eat meat! - has on the environment around us.

If you haven't seen Cowspiracy yet, here are some facts from the film explaining why you should go vegan to help save the environment:

  • Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions - more than transportation exhaust! 
  • Agriculture-related emissions are expected to increase 80% by the year 2050.
  • Agriculture consumes 80-90% of the United States' water supply.
  • 2,500 gallons of water are required to produce just one pound of beef.
If that won't convince you to go vegan (or at least adopt Meatless Mondays), then IDK what will, people.

10. Shop at Amazon Smile.

Of all the ways to change the world in college, this one might just be the easiest: instead of typing in when you go to shop on Amazon (gotta love that Prime), go to When you do, you'll be asked to select a charity you believe in - mine is the ASPCA - and Amazon will donate a small portion of each purchase you make toward that charity. However, while this is one of the easiest, most mindless ways to do some good in your everyday life and I 100% recommend it, you should also be aware that not all items on Amazon are eligible for Amazon Smile. So, if an item in your cart isn't Smile eligible, purchase it separately or consider shopping around for an alternative that is!

Want another easy way to get involved? Comment your favorite charitable organization below + challenge yourself to make a donation to someone else's charity! 

(I will donate $5 to the first charity posted.)

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