Small Ways To Make Your Daily Routine More Sustainable

It’s sustainability week here with us at Her Campus Siena, and it’s about time we think about ways to remove waste in our daily lives! With Earth Day is this month, we should be thinking about the Earth and our environment more than one day or week out of the year. Here’s some small, daily ways you can try to reduce your contribution to the world’s trash problem.

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1. Skip out on napkins

This is by far one of my worst habits. When I go to Casey’s or the dining hall, I’ll grab 3 or 4 napkins before I sit down with my food because I’m a messy human. But, the thing is, sometimes these napkins are only half used or still clean - and either way, they’re unrecyclable! From now on, I’m trying to not grab any napkins until I need them, and seeing if I’m in an area where I can just wash my hands instead of adding to the landfills.

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2. Go thrifting

My fellow writers here at Siena are making some fantastic articles on thrifting tips and tricks, but this is so important, it has to be emphasized! Fast fashion - low-quality, but cheap, articles of clothing constantly pushed out to the newest trends - is terrible for the environment. In fact, the dyeing of these clothes is the second largest polluter of clean water in the world. Not only is thrifting better for the environment, but it doesn’t rely on unethical factories to produce new clothing for you - and it’s cheap and leave you with some beautiful, unique pieces! It’s a win all around.

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3. Use products with no packaging/recycled packaging

When it comes to beauty, there are some brands that go out of their way to make zero-packaging or recyclable-packaging products. My personal favorite is Lush, who make a ton of products created to not need a container, like their shampoo bars, bar soaps, and “naked” skin care. For their products that do come in pots, they are made from 100% post-consumer plastic. And, if you have a Lush store near you, you can bring back 5 of these empty pots and receive a free face mask! Anything that helps the environment and lands me free stuff is a win to me.

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4. Do the dishes!

Whether you’re in college or at home, it’s hard to resist some single-use products; plastic water bottles and straws, and disposable plates and silverware make everyone’s life easier when it comes to cleanup after your meals. But as it stands now, is it at a cost that we’re willing to take? Before you skip out on the reusable ware in favor of an easier cleanup, ask yourself if there’s something else you can use instead that won’t end up in a landfill after one use. Use your real plates and silverware when eating, and consider investing in some reusable water bottles, thermoses, and even metal straws. Just think about the turtles!

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5. Only take what you need

In case you haven’t heard, Americans waste a lot of food. In fact, we lead the world in food waste according to The Atlantic. Instead of contributing to all the wasted food, which is the biggest occuptant in American landfills, don’t overload your plate at the dining hall. You can always go back for more! When eating out, don’t waste your leftovers (you’re getting a second free meal anyways), and, if you’re in a position where it’s an option, consider composting!

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6. Go paperless where possible

I’ll be honest, this one hurts my English major heart a little bit. But the facts are simple: use less paper, and you’re cutting down less trees, and using less energy to turn it into a product. Try purchasing e-books where possible (they’re also cheaper!) or buying used, or even going to your local library - unheard of, right? Besides books, you can also opt for email receipts at facilities which give you the option and take notes on a laptop instead of inside of a notebook. Image source

Given the level of our trash problem (that’s only going to get worse), it’s time to start really thinking about reducing, reusing, and recycling - with emphasis on the reducing. Even if you’re a fellow pessimist and it feels like the world is going to end anyways no matter what we do, it gives your own little conscious a break to feel like you’re doing some small part to prevent that from happening. You could even save a little money by doing so!

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