Everyday sustainability tips for the everyday student

Easy sustainability tips from your dorm room to the classroom

Everyday sustainability tips for the everyday student

There are many ways students can incorporate sustainability into their lives during the school year.

Climate change is a big and looming issue, but it doesn’t have to be so intimidating. The (Com)Post is The Eagle’s sustainability series that breaks down topics in eco-friendly living in a fresh, actionable and fun way.

The daily duties of classes, jobs, internships and living arrangements can make sustainable living seem impossible. Figuring out how to incorporate sustainability amidst all these responsibilities may seem daunting. But fear not: we’ve listed some easy and effective ways you can tackle this new school year as sustainability pros. 

Always Keep Reusable Bottles in Your Bag

When that 4 p.m. slump hits, the need for a cup of coffee can be all too real. It may not seem like a big deal in the moment, but the waste from a daily coffee cup adds up. In fact, 16 billion disposable coffee cups are used annually. Most are coated with plastic to laminate the insides and topped with single-use plastic lids. Carry a reusable thermos in your bag for coffee and water to prevent this unnecessary waste. If you forget your thermos one day, go to one of the vendors on campus that offer compostable cups. 

Buy Clothes Second-hand

The retail industry has a huge impact on the environment. Estimates suggest that the apparel and footwear industries generate roughly 10% of global pollution. The boom of fast fashion perpetuates short clothing life cycles that lead to mass amounts of textile waste. Instead of buying a new back-to-school wardrobe this fall, consider some more eco-friendly alternatives. Clothes swapping with friends, shopping at secondhand stores (check out our thrifting video and article) or sites like Poshmark and ThredUp are all great options. 

Deck Out Your Dorm/Apartment with Previously Loved Goods

Whenever you decorate your dorm room or apartment for spooky season or holiday season, consider buying secondhand furniture and decor instead of new ones. There are tons of secondhand choices (think couches, tables, desks, wall decor, etc.) that are in great condition and sold at awesome prices. Facebook Marketplace has tons of great listings.  

Pack Your Lunch Like a Sustainability Pro

Buying lunch out typically involves waste such as single-use cutlery and packaging. Use some of the gazillion Tupperware containers in your kitchen drawer or invest in an eco-friendly lunchbox, and bring your lunch or snacks to campus or your internship. If you do want to buy a to-go lunch out, many vendors won’t mind using an empty container that you provide.

Rent Digital Textbooks 

With midterms in full swing, and finals an ever-present thought, whenever you need to study, save the paper and rent digital versions of your required textbooks instead. Using digital textbooks is even better than used hard-copy versions that may need to be shipped, which creates delivery emissions. AU Campus Bookstore, Amazon and Chegg all have a large collection of e-textbooks. 

Get a Free Compost Bin

The awesome Zero Waste Club (contact auzerowasteclub@gmail.com) offers free small composting bins for people living both on and off campus. Any food waste, wood items (stir sticks and toothpicks), paper items (towels, tissues, napkins, soiled cardboard, etc.), and compostable cups, bowls and lids can all be put in composting bins. You can then deposit the contents of your personal bin to any of the larger orange composting bins around campus for the Composting Crew to take care of.

It’s more important than ever to incorporate sustainability into our lives. Use these simple tips and a bit of planning and creativity to make  every day as sustainable as possible. 

dharvey@theeagleonline.com

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