Sustainable Swaps and Doing Your Part For The Environment

In recent decades, sustainable living has never been more crucial as the state of our environment continues to deteriorate. Individuals continue to become more aware of what is at stake, but they do not know how to take action. Many believe they cannot implement change as a single person, which prevents someone from doing anything at all. However, if we all choose to make just one change, that one will become many. Awareness is key to recognizing habits that result in a polluted atmosphere, trash in landfills, and plastic in our oceans. Lets not wait until a major climate disaster occurs, if it has not already, to take action. Instead of telling yourself you’ll start tomorrow, start now. You may have already heard some of these tips and that is because they are some of the easiest and most simple lifestyle swaps you can make to do your part for the state of the environment. 


1. Ditch the single-use plastics 

We cannot deny that the plastic bags we use to carry our groceries, grab-and-go coffee cups, and fast food wrappers make our lives a lot easier. For centuries, we have taken advantage of this convenience at the cost of our environment. Plastics are not made to be biodegradable and can take up to 1000 years to break down. The more plastics fill up in our landfills, the more toxic chemicals drain into the groundwater, which eventually ends up in our rivers and oceans. This is just a small snapshot of the harmful effects single-use plastics have on our environment. A few swaps I have made to my lifestyle to avoid the use of these products include always carrying with me a reusable straw, mug/water bottle, reusable utensils/chopsticks, switching to reusable cotton pads for removing makeup, and using a tote for shopping or groceries. Begin asking for no straws at restaurants, buy food and other products in bulk or from farmer’s markets, the list can go on. 

More information on “The Decomposition of Waste in Landfills”


2. Avoid food waste

Nowadays, it may be difficult to prevent food waste when the portions you are served at restaurants are big enough to feed a whole family or you may accidentally let your fresh produce go bad because you never got around to cooking it. The sad truth is that the amount of food wasted on a global scale could feed starving populations around the world. Therefore, the next time you are out getting groceries, think critically about how much you actually need. Plan your meals around recipes ahead of time or prep meals that will last you throughout the week in order to minimize the potential of food going to waste. While you’re shopping, do not be afraid to buy the “ugly” fruits or vegetables; one bruise does not mean the whole product is bad. If anything, make sure to compost any food scraps instead of throwing it in the trash. There are various online resources providing how-to guides on how to compost properly and efficiently!

Guide to composting:


3. Shop package free! 

Whether you are a college student without a car or living in the middle of a big city, shopping package free is more difficult for some than others. Not everyone has access to a Trader Joes or Whole Foods where buying in bulk and bringing your own containers is their forte. Despite the situation, what matters is you do what you can and as often as you can. When shopping at your local deli or taking food to-go, ask if they are willing to put the food directly into your own containers. It is not unheard of individuals being turned down for “health” or “sanitation” reasons, but it never hurts to ask. Going package-free not only means going local, but reducing online shopping as well. I am just as guilty of taking advantage of the convenience of saving time, energy, and money online shopping provides. The issue lies not with the products themselves, but the packaging they come in. Although the majority of boxes are recyclable, many come with styrofoam or lined with plastics that are not so great for the environment. 

Buy your package-free items:


Here I have compiled a short and quick list of some of my favorite lifestyle swaps to sustainability: 

  • Bamboo toothbrush (compostable)

  • Reusable cotton rounds

  • Buy in bulk 

  • Shop locally/go thrifting

  • Use a reusable water bottle/coffee mug, straw, and utensils

  • Limit take-out (or use own container)

  • Carry a tote/reusable bag everywhere

  • Use a bar soap or shampoo

  • Reduce online shopping

  • Do not waste food (do not bite off more than you can chew)

It is easy to overlook the habits we do throughout our daily lives because they may make our lives just a little more convenient and less of a hassle. Awareness and action is what it all comes down to. Day by day, try to be just a little more conscious of and make an effort to reduce your consumption of single-use plastics, preventing food waste, and shopping package-free. These tips I offer are not going to fix the state of our environment overnight, but I believe it is a good place to start.