The time is fast approaching when it will be too late for the world to address the danger of climate change. It is understandable that making big lifestyle changes can be out of budget for most college students. However, the movement to fight climate change has become the most pressing topic of our time and it is imperative that each of us join in on the fight to curb climate change, and a lot of that entails living sustainably.
Living a sustainable lifestyle means creating less waste. But, this means altering the way we buy clothes, food and even how we use our electronics. Here are five little changes we can make to lead more sustainable and eco-friendly lives.
GRAPHIC COURTESY OF SLINGSHOT HEALTH
1. Recycle: The easiest way to help fight climate change is to recycle. According to the North Carolina Environmental Quality, recycling “helps save energy in the processing of materials” and also helps to reduce the “production of methane” because less materials end up in landfills. This is a great way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
2. Thrift Shop: Thrift and vintage shopping is another great way to curb climate change. We all like to have something new to wear, whether it be for a special event or date. Instead of going to Topshop or Vans when you want a new t-shirt or hoodie, stop by your local thrift store. Buffalo Exchange, for instance, has the most up-to-date and gently used clothing for lower prices. The fashion industry is a big contributor to global pollution; start thrift shopping and lighten your carbon footprint.
3. Skip Meat: If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted with vegetables and grains, it would be comparable to taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads in terms of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Not only is Meatless Monday beneficial for the environment, but it is also cheaper.
4. Use a Reusable Cup: In the U.S., packaging makes up the largest category of municipal waste. It takes a lot of energy to make single-use items. In addition, plastic is made from petroleum and toxic materials such as benzene and vinyl hydrochloride, which are harmful to humans. By switching out plastic water bottles and straws for reusable water bottles and straws, we can help cut down on the 7.5 million plastic straws that are lying around America’s shorelines and the 1 million plastic water bottles that globally are bought every minute.
5. Turn Off & Unplug: We are all guilty of leaving our computers, T.V. and other appliances plugged in all day when we aren’t using them. The price of keeping those things plugged in can add up. In 2018 alone, overall electricity production represented 37 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions in the United States alone. This percentage means that electricity is one of the main contributors to climate change. By simply unplugging your electronics when you’re done using them, you can help minimize your carbon footprint.
As college students we have everything we need to start living sustainably at this very moment. So, unplug your T.V., order your soy latte no foam in a reusable cup and buy a new pair of Levi’s from the thrift store. Let’s work together and fight climate change.
Ellen is a junior English major with a minor in Business.