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Cameron Smith / Her Campus
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Sustainability: Ways to Help the Environment and Yourself

If you’ve been active on Tik Tok and Instagram you’ll know that sustainability is one of

the hot topics right now. From fast fashion to our individual carbon footprint, we seem to

be learning something new about sustainability every day, but what exactly is it?

Environmental sustainability is the improvement or maintenance of environments

through responsible interactions with the earth. As humans, we take from Earth’s

natural resources but we rarely give back. Environmental sustainability looks to change

that. However, in today’s social media and capitalism driven world, we see people

making a profit out of sustainable actions and marketing it as something elite or exclusive.

Let’s get one thing clear: Restoring our environment is not a classist action. In fact,

individual actions that help restore our environment are actually helping you as well.

As we continue to restore the environment we live in, we are guaranteed a future within

it. Restoring the environment does not have to empty out your wallet. Actually, simple

actions that we make for the environment can help us out economically. Here are a

couple of sustainable actions that require no money and no prior experience.

 

1. Switching to electronic mail

Most banks now offer to send your bank statement electronically instead of in the mail.

Other websites also have this option! By switching to electronic mail you are opting for

less clutter and less paper usage.

If keeping physical copies of important papers is a priority to you, that’s totally okay.

Keep the paper mail coming and see if you could adjust to paperless in other accounts.

 

2. Donate your old clothes instead of tossing them.

Give your clothes a second life to avoid clothing waste. Local thrift stores will happily

take your old items and pass them on. If your clothes are too worn out, don’t worry. You

can transform them easily, like cutting up an old t-shirt or towel and making it into a

cleaning rag.

 

3. Plan out your errands in advance

Save yourself some time and gas money by planning out where you need to go. Group

your errands by area and see which days you can go where. This will reduce your

carbon footprint, and you can take it a step further by carpooling with a friend.

 

4. Declutter your living spaces every once in a while

With classes being mostly online this semester, see if you can find old notebooks to use

for classes or as planners! While looking through your room, identify all your electric

plugs and make sure to keep items unplugged unless in use. This will definitely lower

your electricity bill and help with energy consumption.

 

5. Check out your local Recycling Directory

Stay informed on what you should toss and what you should recycle. If your living area

does not offer a recycling service, look for recycling centers that can take your items.

Some places even pay you for them.

 

Going to recycling centers consistently can be exhausting and waste some gas, so

make sure to give your items a second life before you’re ready to give them away. Want

a cute mason jar but don’t have the budget for them? Clean out your salsa jars and use

them as storage jars or cups. Want a vintage flower vase but don’t want to splurge on

Etsy? Keep your glass bottles, add water, and give your flowers a new home.

Sustainability should not be economically or socially shaming. We all have to play a part

in restoring our environment, but we don’t necessarily have to invest our life savings into

it, especially as college students. There is no cookie-cutter way to being sustainable,

you just have to start with what works for you.

 

I am a graduate student in Architecture with a minor in English (emphasis in creative writing). I’d like to create beautiful, affordable and sustainable spaces where people feel comfortable as well as describe those places in writing!
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