10 Easy Ways to Live More Sustainable

After falling down a Youtube rabbit hole about being environmentally conscious around two months ago, I started to immerse myself into the wild journey of living a sustainable and nearly zero-waste lifestyle. These were the first few very easy changes I made that helped inspired me to live the way I do now.

1. Start actually using your water bottle:

You probably have one, and if you’re not already bringing it with you everywhere, you should! It’s not only important to hydrate before you diedrate, but by doing this, you’ll never have to buy a plastic water bottle or ask for a water cup, both of which are extremely wasteful.

2. While you’re at it, use a reusable coffee cup:

Starbucks is great, but the plastic straws and hot coffee cups that have to be thrown away aren’t. By using your own cup, you’re helping reduce the waste produced by the factory creating the cups AND reducing what ends up in the landfills. A key in this is to always carry this cup with you in your bag or purse because you might not go out with the intention of getting a drink, but if you decide to, you’ll have your own cup!

3. Compost:

Our campus makes it extremely easy for us to compost, so take advantage of it! Know what can go into the compost (napkins, tissues, paper towels, food you didn’t eat and YES those plastic cups AND lids AND the straws they give out in the dining hall) so you’re not putting something into the landfill when it can otherwise be broken down.

4. Use a reusable straw:

Because of how small plastic straws are (like the ones Starbucks gives out), they are unable to be recycled, so reusable straws are a super easy and effective way to make a difference and reduce the amount of plastic being thrown out. These are super easy to carry everywhere and share with friends.They’re also a great conversation starter! When a waiter, peer, professor etc. sees you using these and asks about it, explaining how wasteful plastic straws are is a great transition into talking about sustainable living.

5. Use your own silverware:

Along with carrying around metal straws, it’s great to carry silverware so that you’ll never need to use plastic utensils during events. While this isn’t for everyone, a great first step is to turn down plastic utensils if they’re offered and you don’t need them. Are you taking food from the dining hall back to your room where you know you have silverware? Turn the plastic fork down because there’s no need for it. A lot of sustainable living is saying no to convenient, especially when it’s unnecessary.

6. Speaking of… turn down the unnecessary in general:

Flyers, free prizes you know you’ll never use, handouts from booths and clubs, etc.—just turn them down! If you know you won’t use it and that it will end up in the trash after sitting on your desk for three weeks, just turn it down in the first place.

7. Snack smarter:

It can be hard to stop eating the snacks you love, but an easy transition is to start avoiding snacks that come in packaging that is wrapped in plastic or other material that must end up in the trash. Check labels and see if it can be recycled before buying or lean towards snacks that come in reusable packaging, like super cute tins!

8. Shop second-hand first:

Thrift shopping is great for the environment. Look for clothing, decorations and many other things there first because you’ll save money, you’ll help save resources from being used up to make something new and now that item won’t end up in the landfill. Outside of thrift shops, be sure to check out the Pop-Up Free Store that travels between the Twin Cities which gives out completely free college and dorm items during the beginning weeks of school.

9. Be dedicated to making a change:

Most of these seem like common knowledge, but actually sticking to these things is what can be hard. Start by making little pledges to yourself. If you didn’t bring your reusable cup, don’t get coffee in a disposable cup no matter how badly you want it. You’ll only have to make that mistake a few times before you’ll be in the habit of bringing your cup everywhere. Being dedicated is what will bring about change, and others will notice and be inspired by your willingness to help the planet.

10. Never stop trying to do good:

There are times when it will be inconvenient and hard to stick to a sustainable life, but taking care of the environment is always worth it. Most people will be wowed and find inspiration in your resilience. Keep educating yourself, keep setting an example and standards for others and keep working towards doing good every single day.

The transition into living a more sustainable life can be a difficult one, but it’s a definitely worth while. Small changes here and there will make a huge difference in the long run and will ensure our lasting impact on the environment is a positive one.