What is Sustainability?

Let’s talk sustainability! What the heck is it and why is it important?

Sustainability is, at its core, balance. It’s the lifestyle choices that we can make in order to reduce unnecessary waste in our day to day lives. Given the current state of the planet and the direction it continues to be heading in, being educated and aware of how your daily choices can impact the environment is of the utmost importance. And yes, your diet can also play a part in contributing to environmental waste!

So here’s the thing. Consumerism leads to more waste. The awareness of reducing plastic is trending right now, and although people have the right intentions, their choices often actually go against what is considered a sustainable lifestyle. The sea turtles aren’t only choking on straws, they’re choking on every conceivable variation of plastic out there. But that doesn’t mean that you need to go out and spend a thousand dollars on different “sustainable products” because some influencer told you so. The big thing is to use what you have, and if you can’t use it anymore, then make your purchases with sustainability in mind.

Of course, nobody’s perfect. You can’t expect to undo years of habit in one day. And I am well aware, especially as a college student, that living a sustainable lifestyle is, at first glance, an intimidating and potentially expensive venture. But the longer you commit to it, the easier it gets. Here are my top 10 easy sustainable swaps that you can make in your home to help get you started!

1. Eat the food that you buy

It’s that simple, folks. And this one is SO important. Just think about how much waste would be eliminated if we were a little smarter with our leftovers, meal plans, and grocery visits. Seriously, check out the link below. It’s got some mind blowing facts.

“Just how much food do Americans waste? Here’s some “food” for thought: The United States is the global leader in food waste, with Americans discarding nearly 40 million tons of food every year.1 That’s 80 billion pounds of food and equates to more than $161 billion2, approximately 219 pounds3 of waste per person and 30-40 percent4 of the US food supply. Most of this food is sent to landfills; food is the single largest component taking up space inside US landfills.”

https://www.rts.com/resources/guides/food-waste-america/

2. Composting

In tandem with food waste, learning how to compost will keep food scraps out of the landfill, and therefore minimize the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that arise from their decomposition. Here are some helpful links to get you started:

https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home

https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/all-about-composting/5061.html

3. Plant-based diet

The fewer animal based products you consume, the less you are supporting an industry that uses an abundance of resources to put meat on the table every day. Eliminating meat from your meals even once a week (Meatless Mondays!) can drastically reduce the demand for these animal products and therefore reduce the massive amounts of resources it takes to sustain such a huge livestock industry. Even better, try to eliminate unsustainable animal products from your diet altogether. I digress…here is another link to an article with some more facts for ya.

Meat’s large water footprint: why raising livestock and poultry for meat is so resource-intensive

4. Reusable grocery bags

Easy-peezy. They don’t even have to be fancy-trendy grocery bags. Just refrain from using plastic bags at the grocery store. I also like to use these (linked) reusable produce bags for, you guessed it, my produce. Waste ~eliminated~.

Ecowaare 15 Pcs Reusable Produce Bags

5. Reusable ziplock baggies

Same thing, and it’ll save you money in the long run because you’ll never have to buy plastic bags again!

6. Bar soap

This is another big one. Think about how many times you’ve bought body wash, shampoo, conditioner, dish soap, detergent. All in plastic bottles, all ended up in a landfill. An easy way to eliminate the plastic completely is by purchasing these products as bar soaps. I personally use bar soap in the shower and for my dishes. It’s an easy swap and is often equally as affordable as those in the plastic bottles.

7. Reusable razor blade

I purchased my reusable razor a few weeks ago and I’m literally obsessed with it. I’m not getting paid by them and this isn’t sponsored but this is an investment that is so worth the money. Not only are the blades completely recyclable, but I’ve also never had a cleaner shave. No razor bumps for me! Can’t recommend this one enough. Again it’s an investment, but you’ll never have to purchase another plastic razor again. For me, it was a good deal. You’ll have to decide whether it’ll work for you!

Leaf Shaver

8. Buy in bulk

There are a bunch of great options to buy your dry goods in bulk! You can look up a good bulk store near you. All you have to do is bring your own vessels. They even discount the weight of your jars or bags in the weigh in at checkout. This is a great alternative to buying a bag of rice, beans, quinoa, etc. that often come in plastic bags. As a bonus it’s also often more affordable!

https://www.litterless.com/wheretoshop

9. RECYCLE

Yeah I know, it’s been drilled in our heads a billion times. But seriously, recycle anything you can. Aluminum cans, glass, paper, anything. I just found out that the janitorial staff on my college campus does not actually recycle any of the stuff we put in the recycling bins on campus. They just throw it away with the trash. Believe me when I tell you that administration will be hearing from me.

https://www.wm.com/us/en/recycle-right/recycling-101

https://www.reuseplastics.org/news/mrff

10. Carpool

Yup. Whenever possible just hitch a ride with a buddy. Or ride a bike. Reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that you are contributing to the atmosphere.

Commuting by Automobile in the US

http://futureofcarsharing.com


Of course, there are a billion more things you could do to help reduce waste in your every day life. I will list literally any more of them I can think of below. Some of them are fairly new ideas that people may not have bought into yet. If I leave anything out feel free to email me! But I think the ten above are a great place to start, that I have personally tried and am satisfied with. Again don’t stress about how many swaps you can do in one day. Think big picture and just keep doing your best! If everyone does a little bit every day, pretty soon we’ll start seeing some real progress.

Bamboo Toothbrush

Plastic free toothpaste bits

Reusable straws

Reusable water bottle

Reusable coffee cup

Bring your own Tupperware when taking food to-go

Bamboo toilet paper

Avoid single use plastic ware

Reusable paper towels

Buy secondhand clothes

Upcycle clothing

Purchase from sustainable clothing brands

Save veggie scraps to make vegetable broth