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With Earth Day this week, I’m sure many of you are thinking about your own actions and how it impacts the Earth.  If you are like me, you are wondering about some simple changes you can make to reduce your waste and impact on the environment.  Every little action makes a difference!  Here a few easy ones you can partake in:  


1. Reusable water bottles for single-use plastic water bottles

This is a super easy way to reduce plastic waste.  Not only are reusable water bottles cuter, but it encourages you to drink more water which is healthy for your body.  Additionally, Brita filters are prevalent and convenient to refill your water bottles.  Plastic water bottles actually have a lot of microplastics in them that are harmful to your body!


2. Menstrual cups for pads/tampons

Period products are very wasteful as pads and tampons are single use.  Tampons applicators and wrappers produce a lot of waste.  Menstrual cups are a great swap if you are looking to reduce your waste since they are reusable (and also free of any toxins)!


3. Non-meat alternatives for meat

Every person has the opportunity to help the Earth by reducing their consumption of meat.  The meat industry takes a large toll on the environment and greatly contributes to climate change.  You can do your part by reducing the amount of times per week you eat meat and substituting non-meat alternatives.


4. Reusable bags for single-use plastic bags

As some states are requiring small fees and taxes for bags at the stores, many people have begun to bring their own bags to stores in order to carry their stuff home.  Reusable bags are sturdier, can hold a lot more, and reduce plastic bag waste immensely, which is important because they cannot be recycled.  


5. Reusable coffee cups for single-use coffee cups 

If you are a big coffee drinker who orders coffee out a lot, then you are probably producing a lot of waste.  In non-Covid times, try bringing your own cup and asking them to put your coffee in there to save a cup.


6. Second-hand clothes for new clothes 

As Generation Z increasingly values the environment, thrifting has become trendy in the fashion world.  This is a great way to give a new life to an article of clothing.  You can acquire second hand clothes through friends, thrift shopping, or online thrift shopping such as Depop or ThredUP.


7. Home utensils for single-use plastic utensils

When ordering out, a lot of times the restaurant will include some plastic utensils.  Instead of this, ask for no utensils and use your own metal ones at home.  If you are going out to eat at a place that has plastic cutlery, think about keeping your own bamboo cutlery set on you at all times to do your part in reducing waste.  They are easy to wash at home and put back in your purse.


8. Silicone mats for silicone mats

If you enjoy baking in your free time like me, you probably have used parchment paper at some point in your life.  An easy swap for this is to invest in some silicone mats and an added benefit of these are that they are inherently non-stick!


9. Glass tupperware, reusable bags, or silicone stretch lids for plastic tupperware

While reusable plastics are better than single use plastics, they still cause plastic waste.  Instead, think about investing in some nice glass tupperware to store your leftovers.  You can even repurpose old pasta sauce jars to store pantry items.  Another option is to purchase reusable bags instead of regular single use Ziploc bags.  Finally, another way to store leftovers is by leaving it in the bowl it is already in, and putting a silicone stretch lid on top of it to ensure freshness.


10. Reusable straws for plastic straws

We have all heard this one before… “Save the turtles!”  If you are someone who loves to drink out of straws, think about a small investment into a reusable straw, whether it be silicone, glass, or metal.  These are a great option for someone who is just beginning their journey on reducing waste.


Overall, these are some great options for reducing your personal waste.  However, the only true way to reduce waste is to reduce consumption.  Only purchase what you NEED.  Do you really need that trendy clothing piece from Zara?  Or how about that cheap accessory that you may only use once because it will break?  Are you really going to eat all of that food, or should you buy a smaller package?  With every purchase from now on, I hope you consider how much waste you are producing.  


While all of these swaps are great options, the only true way to reduce waste is to limit your consumption.  Start easy with one of these swaps and then you can further your sustainability journey by incorporating more and more swaps into your lifestyle as time goes on.  With time, you will start to be more mindful of your purchases and only purchase necessities (with the occasional treat).  Happy Earth Day!  And remember… no action is too small!

Melissa is President and Campus Correspondent of Her Campus at Bentley University.  She is a senior majoring in Marketing and minoring in Spanish and Psychology.  Melissa studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain!  In her free time, she loves to read, write, play tennis, volunteer, and spend time with family and friends.  You'll usually find her exploring new places and restaurants and then writing articles about them!       
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