By Paige Bintz
Everything on campus is generally within the same area, so it isn’t hard to walk around everywhere you need to go. However, if you are headed somewhere in town, evaluate how you get there. If it is within reason, go ahead and walk or bike. However, if the location is a little too far away, use public transportation like the bus. This minimizes pollution and is healthy for your body and the environment!
Reduce Food Waste
Reducing food waste is a great way to not only save the environment but also save money too! One great way to do this is to plan your meals ahead of time. Take the time to see what you have in your cupboards and fridge, scope out deals at the local grocery store, and know what produce is in season at the farmers market. This way you can buy only what you need for the next week or so, so you don’t over buy or having to throw away food that you never ate. To reduce the amount of food you throw away, you can use some of those questionable or old food items in multiple ways. You can use lemon peels as a natural degreaser or cleaner. Save all of those fruit bits like a half-eaten peach, over-ripe bananas, or pineapple cores and freeze them. They make a delicious smoothie once blended. For left over veggie trimmings you can save them and blend them together to make a beautiful and nutritious soup, put them into pasta sauces, or throw them into a frittata. This way you can save all parts of the veggie without eating the same meal twice. Now, once you make your meals, throw those potato peels and apple cores into a compost bucket. There are so many DIY compost piles on Pinterest or online in general, it’s easy to get started. Doing this creates a beautiful and nutritious soil to use for plants and gardens. Whatever you can’t compost, make sure you check if you can reuse the container, or recycle it before throwing it away! This way we can truly embody the phrase “reduce, reuse, and recycle”!!
Decrease Meat Consumption
Be conscious in how much meat you eat. Now, this isn’t trying to push you to be completely meat and animal product free (unless that’s your thing), but going vegetarian or even adapting a Meatless Monday habit can drastically improve the environment. The animal agriculture business produces an incredible amount of CO2 emissions. 20% of all emissions are created through this business which is equal to the amount of greenhouse gasses produced by all cars, trucks, and automobiles combined! Also, nearly half of all fresh water used in the US goes towards animal agriculture. If you want to compare this to plant based agriculture, the ratio is 10:1 gallons per pound respectively. Reducing the amount of meat you eat can reduce greenhouse gas and conserve a lot of water! Now, if you still love a good burger, make sure you look for products that are free range, organic, hormone and antibiotic free, just to be safe. Unfortunately, meat products have been shown to be harmful to humans by being linked to obesity, cancer, and heart disease especially if they have additives. So to protect yourself and the environment, go meat free!
Reusable Bags/Water Bottles Instead of Plastic
Using a reusable bag or water bottle works wonders for helping the environment. Canvas bags are a must for a college student because they are so useful. You can use them for groceries, for gym bags, for storage, or for all the moving that happens these next few years. If you still get plastic bags at the store, just reuse them as storage or garbage bags. Now, for water bottles it is best to use a BPA-free plastic or aluminum one. Using disposable water bottles is incredibly harmful to our planet because about 80% of these bottles never get recycled. It also uses an absurd amount of water. In fact, it takes three times the amount of water to create the bottle than it even holds in the first place. Using a reusable bottle really decreases plastic and water waste.
Reduce Electricity and Water Waste
To continue reducing water waste, be sure to turn off the water when brushing your teeth or washing your face. Do this especially when showering. Little bits here and there really add up, 2.5 gallons per minute to be exact. Therefore, just shaving a few minutes off your shower time can make a difference in conserving water. It is also important to conserve electricity. Make sure you are turning off and unplugging all electronics when leaving for summer or winter break or even when you are planning to be gone all day. An easy way to do this is to use surge protectors and just flipping the switch before you leave. You can nix electricity usage by washing your clothes in cold whenever possible and then using a drying rack or clothes line to dry them. This really cuts electricity down especially because 85% of the energy used to machine wash clothes goes towards the heat. By using some of these tips you can not only help save the environment but your utility bill will also look a lot nicer!
Make Your Own Beauty Products and Cleaning Supplies
Making your own cleaning and beauty supplies is so easy and honestly cheaper than buying the products in the store. Plus, you can help the environment by reducing the use of harsh chemicals that pollute the air quality in your home actually making it safer to breathe. For cleaning supplies, lemon, baking soda, vinegar, castile soap, and olive oil goes a long way. If you can’t get behind making your own products and are still going to buy these in the store, look for better brands that are eco-friendly and cruelty free
Now here are a few easy to make beauty products that are safe for you and the environment:
- Toothpaste: 2 tbs coconut oil, 1 tbs baking soda, 10 drops peppermint essential oil for taste
- Shampoo: 1 tbs baking soda, 1 ½ cups water and cornstarch for thickening, essential oils for smell
- Deep Conditioner: ½ ripe avocado, ½ tsp olive oil, essential oil for smell
- Lip balm: 4 tbs shea butter, 3 tbs coconut oil, 2 tbs almond oil, essential oil for smell/taste
No More Paper Products
Nixing your paper usage in certain areas of everyday life can help cut down the need for production. For cleaning, use cloths and towels instead of paper towels. If you prefer paper products for cleaning make sure to look for the biodegradable kind so it is less harmful for the environment. Also try to take notes on your laptop, or modernize to-do lists by using apps on your phone instead of using post-it notes. If you’re a book worm, try using a kindle or iPad to get your fix of the latest bestseller. Now, if you enjoy the satisfaction of using paper products use an old notebook, or recycled paper. For books, borrow from a friend or buy older books from a thrift shop nearby. This way you can still use paper products without allowing the industry to make more.
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Natural Awakenings, Magazine Metro Milwaukee Edition, March 2018