When someone mentions “spring cleaning,” chances are Marie Kondo-esque room organization comes to mind. However, this season is also perfect for making some lifestyle changes- especially ones that can make your daily routine “greener” as Earth Day nears. There’s no debate that climate change is happening- it is science, after all. In a world where it seems like the government isn’t taking enough action to acknowledge this problem, it may seem hopeless. Still, small changes accumulate over time to create big effects. Here are a few easy switches to make this spring:
- Buy a reusable water bottle
About one million plastic bottles are purchased per minute- and in the U.S. only 23% are recycled. There’s a design and price point for anyone, and they’re much more convenient than plastic bottles. Not only are they clearly the more sustainable option, but they’re also budget-friendly in the long run ($5 water bottles at concert venues? No thanks).
- Bring your own shopping bags
Plastic bags are extremely damaging to wildlife, yet they are given out almost everywhere we shop. In fact, the average family uses about 60 bags every four grocery trips. These single-use plastics are only used for short amounts of time and then discarded. Luckily, it’s easy to keep reusable options in your purse or pocket during your next shopping trip.
- Take public transportation when possible
Transportation is a key player in greenhouse gas emissions, which cause global warming. That’s why you should opt for public transportation as often as you can- whether it’s a bus, train, or subway car, you’ll get to your destination quickly and affordably in an environmentally-friendly fashion.
- Repurpose glass jars
Those nut butter jars you’ve been tossing in the trash? Those can be turned into a pot for a plant, makeup brush holder, or an easy on-the-go salad container, to name a few. Something as simple as washing it out and peeling off the label can give the jar a new life and save it from the landfill.
- Stop using plastic cutlery
Another culprit of the single use plastic epidemic; plastic utensils. Luckily, there are plenty of options when it comes to reusable cutlery. They often come with their own travel cases so you can stick them in your backpack to use in the cafeteria.
- Eat more plant-based meals
I’m not pushing you to go full vegan (that’s not practical for every lifestyle), but meat- especially red meat- is a huge source of carbon emissions as well as water usage. Think about it; not only do you need water to grow the food to feed the animals, but you also need water to give to the animals. Try going meat-free for your meals at least one day a week.
- Cut down on power usage
Make sure you shut the lights off in your dorm when you leave to go to class, and turn off electronic devices that aren’t being used. You can even use natural light from windows instead of overhead light during the day.
- Eat locally
Look up farmers markets and local farms in your area. Grocery stores may offer fruits and vegetables, but chances are they required lots of transportation to get to that shelf (which means more carbon emissions). Farmers markets are a good choice for more sustainable (and often yummier) food options.
- Walk or bike when possible
Walking and biking don’t only have environmental benefits- they have mental and physical benefits too. Now that it’s spring it’s the perfect time to get some fresh air while getting to your destination.
- Buy second hand
Whether it’s clothes, jewelry, furniture, or art, second hand purchases are a good way to save money while avoiding fast fashion. Thrift stores have plenty of quality items to choose from- who knows what you’ll find!