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The state of the world is concerning. Every time you log onto the internet or glance at a headline, it seems like our earth is heading for total destruction. While individual action cannot reverse decades of damage done by factories and corporations, it doesn’t do anyone any good to believe that our environmental situation is hopeless. Your apathy is problematic. Sure, it’s important to acknowledge that the bulk of our current environment issues are done by entities bigger and more powerful than us. But (but!), everyone has an obligation to think about how their actions impact our planet. Making more sustainable choices can be simple and even fun! If we all work on reducing our waste and carbon footprints, we could see considerable change in our environment. 


1. Reusable Packages

If you’re someone who carries a reusable water bottle everywhere with them, you’re already on the right track! Staying hydrated is super important for every aspect of our well-being. If you’re out and about, it might be super easy to pick up a plastic water bottle whenever you’re feeling thirsty. Before you do that, think about the environmental impact of your action! A quick action for you ends up in a landfill for over 1,000 years. Think about it: land that is currently being used for our garbage was once a habitat teeming with plants and animals. There are many different types of reusable water bottles to fit your lifestyle: whether you want a gallon jug to make sure you’re extra hydrated or a petite little thing to fit in your purse, there’s a perfect bottle for you. But we don’t have to stop at just refillable water bottles! Think about replacing your plastic shopping bags for fabric ones—and not just for your groceries, even for when you’re buying clothes and other items. There are also options such as metal straws and portable cutlery kits and retailers such as Starbucks even offer discounts for people with reusable cups. Single use plastic doesn’t have to be as big of a part in our lives as it is, especially not given how accessible alternatives are.


2. Secondhand Clothing

Terms like “fast fashion” seem to be thrown around a lot when discussing sustainability. Simply put, fast fashion clothing is made quickly and cheaply without concern for material sources, garment quality, or labor. The push against fast fashion is in favor of more ethical clothing that is not only better made—longer lasting clothing stays in your closet and out of landfills—but has a less disastrous impact. As a college student, if these lofty “eco-friendly” boutique brands that you see all over Instagram are out of your price range, thrifting is a perfectly valid option. At thrift stores you are giving someone’s used items a new life for a fraction of a price that would be paid at any other store. If you still like to hit the malls, stores like H&M have sustainable, or “environmentally-conscious” lines.


3. Go Meatless (Sometimes)

It’s a simple fact that almost all of the meat sold in grocery stores or served in restaurants is sourced from factory farms. Factory farms are not only terrible for the animals that have to live and then die on them, but they are terrible for the environment. The pollution and ecological damage done to land where animals are raised for food is staggering. While cutting out meat and dairy completely is a significant way to decrease your carbon footprint, it is understandable that not everyone can or wants to go completely vegan or vegetarian. Everyone has heard of Meatless Mondays, but there are many ways to cut down on your consumption of animal products. Chances are, a lot of us are already making such choices. Sometimes it’s something as small as getting almond milk instead of cow’s milk in your coffee. And before you say to yourself, “I could never give up meat,” think of how many of your favorite foods are already meatless. Enjoy your pastas, salads, and pizzas just as before: meatless.


4. Swap Out Your Everyday Products

Much like plastic water bottles, there are a lot of wasteful products that we use every day without thinking. Most of the time, we’re using things unnecessarily and even wasting money. Instead of cleaning with paper towels, use a rag or even an old T-shirt to clean. There are even tons of ways to make your period more environmentally friendly. Rather than throwing away dozens of sanitary products during your time of the month, opt for period panties, a menstrual cup, sponge, or reusable pads. As far as cleaning and beauty products go, keep abreast of the ingredients used in them. Simple household cleaners and skin and hair moisturizers can be made simply and cheaply at home.


5. Educate Yourself

There’s a lot to learn about sustainability and what is best for the environment. There’s no way to expect anyone to know all there is to know about the potentially damaging effects of their food, clothing, or daily actions. Thankfully, there are a lot of resources available for everyone interested in learning more.


Lauren Holley is a junior English major with a Creative Writing concentration from Chicago, Illinois. She loves reading good books, reaching goals, and befriending the campus squirrels. She is a content writer at Her Campus Howard.
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