If you’re keeping up with any sort of news, you know that becoming eco-friendly and sustainable is essential nowadays. Climate change is impacting our futures, and while the headlines may seem bleak, as an individual you can take small steps to ensure that you’re practicing sustainability in your daily life.
Switching up your ingrained habits at first may seem daunting — both mentally and financially —but eventually, your wallet and the planet will thank you. Here a few tried-and-true tips to begin integrating sustainable practices into your life.
1. Find inspo and do your research.
You have to start somewhere, right? If you’re looking for inspiration on how to implement sustainability into your daily routine, you can start with an app that you’re always scrolling — Instagram! There is a whole community of influencers devoted to practicing sustainability.
Obviously, that is a very small step to learning how to become sustainable. Most of the hard work will have to done by your own research. Government websites such as NASA and the National Oceanic and Commerce Administration have helpful resources so you can first learn about climate change and its effects. You can also keep up with climate change activists, such as the formidable Greta Thunberg, for more tips on how to reduce your environmental impact.
2. Ditch the plastic and purchase reusable items.
One of the easiest and most financially-friendly ways to become sustainable is to purchase reusable items. It may be difficult to remember, but prioritize purchasing a travel mug so you can consistently forgo plastic. Additionally, when you show up with a reusable travel mug, you often get your drink discounted. Who doesn’t love a good bargain in the morning?
Other simple ways to ditch plastic: Ask for a paper straw or don’t get a straw at all when you’re purchasing a drink at your favorite coffee place. You can also buy packs of metal reusable straws that are both cheap and easy to clean. When you go grocery shopping, don’t use plastic bags (they charge you for those anyway!), purchase your own reusable bags so you have a ton of space.
3. Scale back how much meat you’re eating if you can’t go completely vegetarian.
If you’re truly a meat lover and can’t imagine giving up a filet mignon or simply need that extra kick of protein that a dinner of chicken and vegetables can give you, you shouldn’t give up on practicing sustainability in your diet. Even if you can’t completely cut out meat, you can cut back on how much you intake. Meat is responsible for a significant portion of the world’s carbon emissions and contributes heavily to global warming. So what can you do about this as a college student? Cut out red meat and focus on only the essentials. If you know you need protein, eat meat once or twice a week, but find other alternatives for those nutrients.
4. Commute using public transportation.
By simply getting up a few minutes earlier and investing in student-discounted public transportation passes, you can both save your wallet, your alarm, and the environment the constant beating they take. Though public transportation isn’t always the most reliable, if you truly make it a priority, you’ll become an expert in no time. Using public transportation is also a great way to get to know the town you’re living in, on top of being more environmentally conscious than hopping in that car.
However, if you’re living in a small town with no public transport, talk to your friends about carpooling everywhere. Not only does it give you a chance to queue up your fire playlist and bond with your best friends, but you’ll be doing the environment a solid as well.
5. Cut back on household unnecessities.
If you’re living in your own place, there are certain steps you can take to ensure that you remain sustainable, even when it comes to paying your bills. By keeping the lights turned off when you’re not in a room, layering instead of cranking the heat, and switching to paperless bills, you can slowly but surely achieve a higher level of sustainability within your own home. Definitely brainstorm with your roomies about how to make your living area eco-friendlier.
If you’re up for a challenge, avoiding the purchase of name-brand household cleaners and making your own at home is a natural, budget-friendly way to create a more naturally healthy environment for you and your friends to enjoy.
Though becoming more sustainable is a challenge for anyone, especially for the budget-conscious college student, taking these small steps will help you be more proactive in helping the environment.