Ways To Be More Sustainable

We all heard this saying as a kid: “Every day is Earth Day.” This statement is indeed accurate, and definitely something we should practice along with our everyday routine. 

College is a time for students to prepare for the world off-campus. We begin to develop habits as we spend our four years balancing school, our home life, work and even our money. For Earth Day this year, I wanted to put together a list of ideas that college students like us can practice that benefit not only you, but the environment as well. 

This year, Earth Day is different as we are all staying safe and healthy inside during the stay-at-home order. There are still ways to stay sustainable even from the comfort of our own homes while practicing social distancing. 

Purchase a reusable face mask.

Instead of a paper face mask, support a local business by purchasing a reusable-washable one. 

Wearing a mask when you go out is a great way to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 and other germs. Follow CDC recommendations and stay on top of Central’s updates. Purchase a reusable mask from Etsy or somebody in your town to support a local business. Having a cloth mask that can be washed and used again is great at helping reduce your plastic and paper waste!

Use a laptop or tablet instead of paper.

At the end of the school year, I sometimes throw away my notebooks and let them go to waste. Even when my classes are online, I am guilty of using notebooks. Why do this when you can delete the notes document off of your jump drive or Google Docs? Using personal devices for taking notes at school reduces the amount of paper waste made by students each year. Don’t have access to a device or don’t like computers? Try recycling your notebooks or maybe turn it into a little art project by painting over the pages or drawing on them. Each ton of paper that is recycled can save up to 17 trees and 7,000 gallons of water (AFT, 2012).

Wash and clean your plastic waste to have it be properly recycled.

Done with your shampoo and conditioner bottles? Please give them a good rinse and toss them in the recycling bin. Recycling plants require you to do this because the content inside of the bottles and cans could affect the other products around. Let’s say you don’t clean out your conditioner from the bottle, and it’s tossed somewhere with paper being recycled. The paper can no longer be recycled because it has been contaminated with the soap. You don’t need to use up all your hot water scrubbing off the yogurt from the cup; a quick rinse will do, and will definitely go a long way. 

Unplug appliances and turn off the lights when you leave your dorm or apartment. 

Turning your lights off when you leave your cozy little dorm saves a lot of energy when you leave. The energy saved when the lights are off can reduce the amount of money in your energy bill and save the environment. This also includes turning off the water while you’re brushing your teeth. Having it off for those few moments you’re singing the “happy birthday” song to yourself twice can help save thousands of gallons of water annually.

Shop local.

Shop local when you can because you’re helping small businesses and reducing shipping waste. Support your local businesses, some of which have curbside pickup or delivery options available. Most businesses have been posting their options online, but if you don’t know, just pick up the phone and call.

Cook food at home and plan out your shopping trips.

Cooking fresh, healthy food is good for your body and mind. Plan your grocery needs so you only have to go to the grocery store once or twice a month during the pandemic, reducing your at home deliveries and waste. When possible, support your local farmers and food providers. If you want to support local restaurants and order delivery, let them know you don’t need additional silverware or napkins, and use what you have at home.

During the pandemic, it is important to care for yourself and the people you are isolating with. Even though the world is different than what we are used to, we can still take care of our planet while maintaining physical distancing and isolating. Happy Earth Day!

To read about other ways to celebrate Earth Day, check out the 50 Years of Earth Day Spring Hype story!


BIO: Samantha is a junior at CWU and is studying digital journalism. She loves to make charcuterie boards, play video games, watch “Star Wars” and ski. She is a Street Team Coordinator at CWU Hype.