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5 Tips for The Sustainable Student

5 Tips for The Sustainable Student

Whether you already live a sustainable lifestyle or not, high school and college are great times to develop  eco-friendly practices that you can carry with you for a lifetime. Though it can feel overwhelming at times to get a grasp on what sustainability actually means, living sustainably is simply learned and practiced behavior. It’s much easier to maintain the ins and outs of sustainable living when you get a start on it as a young adult, rather than later in life.
Here are some helpful back to school tips for students to begin or continue the practice of being green:

1. Be Aware of Packaging and Bags

When shopping for groceries and other items,it is best to just say no to plastic bags. Either bring your own bag, opt for paper bags, or simply refuse to take one from the store. Also, be mindful of products that have less packaging. Less packaging means less trash and less material that will end up in a landfill to emit methane and other pollutants. Consider purchasing things such as milk in non-plastic cartons, bread in paper bags, and peanut butter in glass containers.

2. Use Reusable Water Bottles and Coffee Mugs

Rather than buying single-use plastic water bottles and contributing to the overuse of single-use products, use refillable insulated drinkware to carry around with you on campus and at home. If you need that cup of coffee in the morning to help get yourself ready for classes, get a reusable insulated coffee mug. Oftentimes, on-campus restaurants, cafes and cafeterias will offer discounts to students who bring their own reusable mug. If you consider every student, it can make a huge difference if each person is using a reusable water bottle or coffee mug rather than multiple plastic bottles or disposable cups in a week.

3. Simply Decline Single-Use Plastic Straws and Get Reusable Ones

Single-use plastic straws take hundreds of years to degrade, depending on how they’re disposed of. While many restaurants no longer give you straws unless you ask for one, it is unlikely for an outright ban on single-use plastic straws anytime soon. So the responsibility of reducing plastic straw use is on us for now, which is why we suggest simply declining them.
If you’re the kind of person that relies on straws or just prefers to use them, consider buying a set of stainless steel reusable straws, that you can store in your bag for use when you’re out.

4. Bring Reusable Containers and Utensils With You to Dining Halls

Students can reduce their food waste by bringing reusable containers with them to the dining hall. Many dining halls use styrofoam containers and plastic utensils for standard service, and especially for to-go orders. Bringing your own reusable stainless steel utensils and containers can lead to less waste.

5. Buy Your Snacks in Bulk

Speaking of reusable containers, bring them with you to the grocery store  to buy things in bulk without using any plastic packaging. You can get things like nuts, granola and popcorn without any packaging at all. Just bring your own container and be sure to weigh it before you pour in whatever snack you want.
While there are a variety of ways to introduce sustainable living into your daily routine as a college student, these tips can help you build the foundation of a lifestyle that you can maintain for the rest of your life. As you become more comfortable with these practices in your dorm or your apartment, you can then add more tips and tricks to your routine until you reach an almost waste free way of life.
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Aira - December 28, 2022

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