Sustainability is a word we are hearing more often, but what does it actually mean? Is it just the new word for “tree-hugger” or “green thumb?”
Sustainability, defined by the United Nations committee, is a “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Sustainability is recognizing that the environment is an exhaustible resource. The environment and its resources should be used rationally and protected for the good of the Earth, environment, humanity and all living things.
While mostly associated with the environment, sustainability plays a huge role in other elements of our life including economic development and social responsibility. However, being a college student consumes both time and money, and it can be difficult to make a conscious effort to be more sustainable.
But there are a handful of easy and affordable ways to help the planet. Here is a list of some smart, simple, and sustainable practices to incorporate into our daily routines:
1. Shop Second hand
60% of all clothing made will be thrown out in its first year, meaning that the water and energy used to produce our clothes are wasted as well. The fashion industry is the second largest contributor to global pollution.
Buying second-hand prevents clothing it from going to waste and emitting extra carbon dioxide in landfills. In addition, thrifting clothes are often cheaper than buying brand new, which is perfect for a student’s budget. You can even thrift online thanks to apps such as Depop and Poshmark.
2. Lessen your meat consumption
According to the United States Humane Society, if every American skipped one meal including chicken per week and substituted it with vegetables or grains, it would be like taking more than half a million cars off U.S. roads in terms of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Not only is consuming meat more beneficial for the environment, but it is also cheaper.
3. Bring reusable utensils and water bottles with you when eating out
While in college, you are constantly on the go, but instead of buying food and drinks that come in plastic bottles or containers, invest in reusable containers, utensils and water bottles. Cutting out single-use plastics again not only helps the environment but your wallet as well. According to Earth Day, the average American could save $17,290 in their lifetime with a reusable water bottle.
4. Buy reusable K-cups
Coffee is essential, but K-cups aren’t. Going through several single-use K-cups every week adds up quickly, putting a large amount of plastic waste into the environment. Reusable coffee pods and filters are more sustainable and are easy to use. Again, it’s more affordable to buy coffee beans or grounds as opposed to single-use coffee pods, and they taste better too.
5. Unplug devices when not in use
Unplug your phone charger, lights and other small appliance when they’re not in use.These devices still consume energy on standby. By unplugging your gadgets, you can reduce your electric bill and your carbon footprint.
A common misconception about sustainable living is that it must be expensive. These lifestyle changes can actually reduce your resource usage and spending habits.