Lorian ‘Leven: 11 ways to be more sustainable

Being more sustainable doesn’t have to be as difficult or expensive as it may sometimes seem. You can become more eco-friendly by making simple switches, most of which will end up saving you money in the long run. Being green doesn’t mean you have to go all in right away either—anything you do, big or small, makes a difference. Once you start making these changes, you’ll realize just how much waste we as humans produce. Here are 11 easy ways to reduce your environmental footprint in your everyday life.

  1. Use a reusable water bottle
    Carrying around a reusable water bottle will not only make you drink more water, but it will significantly reduce the amount of plastic you would normally use from single-use water bottles. Using a reusable bottle is much more sustainable and positively affects ocean life.
  2. Bring a reusable grocery bag to the store
    Not only are reusable bags sturdier and more reliable than paper and plastic bags, but they are also an easy way to be green. Next time you go to the store, think about the fact that it takes between 15 and 1,000 years for a plastic bag to decompose and buy a couple of cheap reusable bags.
  3. Walk, bike, or take public transportation
    Of course, these options are not always practical or available, but choose them whenever possible. Walking and biking are great forms of exercise that will also reduce your carbon footprint and save you money on gas. Public transportation or carpooling are other great ways to reduce waste and live a more sustainable life. If you need it, this is the sign that you should stop driving to class.
  4. Store food in reusable containers
    Instead of using plastic zip bags, saran wrap, or aluminum foil to store your leftovers, go for reusable plastic Tupperware or glass containers. Single-use options can sometimes seem more convenient, but these containers can most likely be used to cook in and are easy to wash, so choose the more environmentally friendly route.
  5. Opt for no receipts
    Cashiers will often ask if you want your receipt printed. Unless you really need it, say no! With all the technology these days, there is usually an option to have it emailed or electronically sent, so try to take advantage of that possibility whenever you can. Though it seems small, the amount of receipts and paper add up, so opting for a paperless receipt eventually makes a world of difference.
  6. Turn the lights off
    After leaving a room, turn off the lights. A lot of people are good about this because it saves money on the electric bill, but it also helps the earth by reducing electricity and energy. Even if you don’t pay for the electricity, do yourself and the world a favor and be friendly to the environment.
  7. Bring your reusable cup to the coffee shop
    Frequent trips to the coffee shop are necessary for most college students and adults, so you might as well buy a reusable mug or tumbler to reduce the use of single-use to-go cups. A lot of coffee shops and companies offer a discount if you bring in your own cup. To top it off, your drink will stay hot or cold longer in your reusable mug. Look at that, three great reasons to switch to an easy eco-friendly option.
  8. Wash your clothes in cold water
    To my surprise, 90% of the energy that washing machines use is reserved for heating the water. Therefore, if you consistently wash your clothes in cold water, you will reduce the need for energy and make a positive impact on the environment.
  9. Keep plants in your home or outside
    Plants are not just useful for décor but will actually clean and purify the air within your home. Especially in the winter, plants are known to help boost your mood. If you’re worried about keeping your plants alive, opt for ones that don’t require much care or watering, like succulents. And if you have space outside, planting a small tree or bush can help reduce your carbon footprint.
  10. Plan your meals
    Planning your meals will be especially helpful when you go grocery shopping, as it will keep you from buying food that you don’t need. Knowing exactly what you’ll need for your meals will absolutely reduce food waste as well as save you money. And if you end up with too much food, freeze it so you can use it in the future.
  11. Buy locally
    When you shop locally, you not only support your local businesses and farmers, but you also contribute to a decrease in transportation, pollution, and congestion. Shopping locally is a simple way to reduce your environmental impact and support your area’s businesses.
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