changing the world on a college kid's budget

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Change comes at a cost. We are waking up to the realization that labor exploitation feeds into our daily lives through our purchases and luxuries. Due to its prevalence, it takes extra effort to to be advocates of change in this industry by being intentional with our purchases. The cost of undoing labor exploitation is recognizing that the discount I crave is robbing families of their income. My pattern of shopping cheapens the work of seamstresses and artists that have been coerced into working for companies that cut corners. We know this to be true but for us college kids, this transition can seem impossible. How can a ramen-eating budget balance the cost of transitioning to fair trade? While this transition can seem impossible, we have tips we recommend for the college kid’s budget. We recognize that your resources are limited, but this transition is important, revolutionary even. And even with a college budget, you can make an impact.

Time to go thrift shopping!

Many of our purchases are unnecessary. By redirecting our spending to an attitude of reusing, we can be instrumental in cutting back on unnecessary production. Thrifting often can support local charities in our communities, making it have a two-fold benefit. Garage sales, thrift stores and rummage sales are all scavenger hunts in the making and provide an outlet for conscious-clear shopping!

Need something faster? Online options have your back.

Thrift shopping has evolved to a whole different level now. With tools such as Facebook Marketplace, Amazon used buy options, and apps like ThredUp, shopping online has connected the marketplace on a broader level. These tools also make it almost instantaneous to find exactly what you’re looking for immediately. If you don’t have time for the hunt of traditional thrift shopping, you can still get what you need when you need it by taking advantage of online resources.

Donate your time


While donating money to organizations may be a daunting task when your bank account has less than desirable numbers, don’t discredit the value of your time as a resource for change. Though your dollars may be limited, donate your time to organizations in their fundraising, awareness, and campaigns. You’re already on board with us for December! What will you dedicate your voice and time to in this upcoming new year?

Utilize the power of your dorm

For all you ladies on campus, let’s see some sisterhood! “What’s mine is yours and yours is mine” can be a great way of cutting down on unnecessary shopping trips and expanding your closets all at once! From borrowing, to swapping wardrobes, the dorm room can save you from unnecessary spending and can be a great way to share about the fashion industry with those on your floor. For the men, dorms are a fantastic way to spread the word about the organizations you're supporting. Inviting others in promotes accountability and can double, even triple your impact.

Shop local

Shopping local typically comes with a pretty price tag but for smart shoppers, local outlets can be a great way to support your surrounding community at a comparable price. Farmers markets boast of crafts and goods handmade and often organic. To cut down on cost, be sure to buy your vegetables and fruits in season. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions to get to know who you are buying from and the product you’re purchasing. Local shopping personalizes the consumer producer experience; you don’t want to miss out!

Value experiences over material things

Though a daunting task, there are many ways that advocacy can be demonstrated on a college kid’s budget. What are your tips and tricks?


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About the Author

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Sara Kernan is a proud Alaskan that now calls Southern California home (while trying not to melt in the summer). She is finishing her undergrad program this year and looks forward to this opportunity with Dressember to be an advocate of social justice on a different level. Sara can usually be found either drinking coffee or finding a new hiking trail with her husband and going on new adventures