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Easy Ways to Live a Greener Lifestyle

Today, many are beginning or are continuing to live their lives a little differently, or even drastically, in order to maintain a green lifestyle. As you may or may not know, Earth Day 2019 is Monday, April 22, the day right after Easter. (Make sure to pick up all plastic eggs and wrappers wherever your Easter celebrations are taking place this year). From cleaning up local beaches and trails to choosing to recycle more, it is easier than you think to live a greener lifestyle! Whether these ideas are new or old to you, here are a few different environmentally friendly options you can consider adding to your lifestyle, especially while in college. 

Reusable Cups and Straws

(Normally cheap and easy to find)

If you have not noticed, more and more people are starting to use reusable cups and even straws on and off campus! Starbucks sells both cold and hot beverage containers for about $1. That’s right these cups are literally one single dollar, two if you decide to buy both the hot and the new cold containers! Soon enough you may not even find straws at Starbucks as they continue to break the mold with their new straw-less lids. Of course, Starbucks is not the only place working on switching over from plastic to reusable, but this takes time. Some restaurants are now implementing new strategies to hopefully use fewer straws by not automatically offering straws to customers anymore. If you are a straw lover, then consider buying one or even a few different reusable straws from Amazon, target, or your favorite local store that offers them! You will help lessen personal contribution to plastic consumption, just do not forget to take them with you afterward! Also, consider buying a reusable water bottle too! 

Reusable Bags

(Not just a Hawaii thing)

As I am sure most of you know by now, the state of Hawaii now charges about 15 cents per bag used, if you do not bring your own reusable bag. This new plastic bag ban has been placed in hopes of lessening the use of plastic throughout the state. Although some states may still be using plastic, others are currently working on removing them as well. The plastic bag ban may become nationwide sooner than later, so why not prepare for it? I know it can be annoying to carry reusable bags around, or maybe you always seem to forget them at home or in your vehicle, but the environment, as well as your wallet, thanks you every time you use them. You do not have to buy 50 bags, nor do you need to spend $20 on reusable bags, just use the ones you already have! If you do not have any, consider reusing that paper bag you bought at your favorite store at the mall, or purchase one for a few dollars from Foodland or Walmart. Most useable bags are under $3 and will last for numerous shopping trips. 

Switch to Electronic

(Go paperless)

Being a college student, it may seem impossible to go completely paperless and although it may be a huge adjustment, it can be possible! Now I know many professors still give out handouts and other materials printed on paper, but some are also starting to put them only on Laulima or similar sites. Instead of printing them out, unless you have to, consider using your phone, tablet, or computer to access the materials instead. This goes not only for handouts but textbooks as well! Textbooks, whether they are free or not, are normally found in an “e-book” version somewhere throughout the internet. If you can use the e-book version it usually can save you money, save space in your bag and save some trees! I will admit that I am the type of student who has notebooks for every subject, and I am super used to taking notes this way. The more I think about it, switching over to a tablet or laptop would make life a little easier and save me money, space, and time in the end.


Conserve Electricity & Water

(Turn those lights off)

Living in the dorms, you are never really faced with the hassle of turning the lights off whenever you leave or unplugging electronics/appliances due to living on your own. Many of us live in a place that does not literally hand us our water or PG&E bill, but that does not mean we should feel okay with wasting it. Even if you live in your own place, small electronics, from printers to chargers, all suck up electricity, due to being plugged in and this can waste a serious amount of energy. The same goes for water usage in the dorms as well. Keep in mind whenever you are brushing your teeth or cooking that if you leave the faucet running that is gallons up gallons of easily accessible clean water pouring down the drain. Next time you leave the room or need to use the sink/shower, think about the impact your actions are making.  

Ride a Bike/Walk

(Biki Bikes are spreading)

Due to companies like Lift, Uber, and the public bus system, many people do not need to have a personal car anymore. Although these companies can make transportation issues easier, have you ever considered borrowing a bike to get somewhere instead? No bike? Don’t know anyone who will lend you theirs? If you live on Oahu, then I’m sure you have noticed Biki bikes starting to pop up more and more around the island. According to the Biki website, these are bikes you can rent for $3.50 per ride! If you fall in love with biking instead of walking or the like, Biki offers different types of monthly plans that can work for just about anyone. Not much of a biker? Then consider taking a walk to wherever you need to go if its close by. Spring is finally here, and that means the weather should start to clear up soon, so get out there and enjoy a nice bike ride or walk! 

While we are only on this planet for a short period of time, our actions can lead to permanent consequences. We need to think about future generations and how we want to leave this planet for them. This type of thinking needs to start now. Even if you cannot commit to all of these lifestyle changes choosing just one can really help make a difference. 

Kayla Shaffstall is currently a Senior at the University Hawaii at Manoa majoring in Sociology, with a focus in Criminology and a minor in English. She plans on furthering her education by attending graduate school to obtain a Master's Degree in Sociology. When she is not writing you can find her soaking up some sun, hiking or drinking coffee at a local coffee shop. She is originally from Southern California.