As Climate Change takes to the political stage in the upcoming 2020 elections, it becomes clear that the issue is something everyone should be paying attention to. Whether they’re sold on the science or not, everyone can — hopefully — agree that it’s better to do things that will help our planet than hurt it.
And while big corporations are certainly the main contributors, the everyday consumer in the United States accounts for 8% of greenhouse gas emissions. So even individually, we would be significantly helping the planet by changing some parts of our daily habits to better it.
As a busy student on a budget, though, it can often be harder to stay green than it is for most people. Here are some tips that are useful, fashionable and frugal.
1. Refill Those Water Bottles
While carrying around the standard VSCO girl Hydro Flask™ seems to be the norm for college students, watching them carry 12-packs of plastic water bottles into their dorms is also common. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable — sometimes it’s just more convenient. Either way, for every student swinging around their metal water bottle there’s another crunching a plastic one as they drink their last sip and toss it in the trash. Instead of tossing away those plastic water bottles: refill them. It offers the same convenience of having 12 water bottles at a time to share and cuts out the physical trauma of continuously lugging a huge pack of them from the store to the dorm. The plastic bottles are easy to wash out and your fridge will always be stocked, making it convenient for when you wake up five minutes before class.
2. Save The Plastic Store Bags
If you’re an avid H.E.B-goer, then you probably already have your reusable bags on hand and ready to go, and you should be using them at every store you go to. But, if you don’t have them and inevitably get those plastic Walmart or Target bags, you can save them instead of throwing them away. From using them as bathroom trash can liners to a cutting board — or the occasional barf bag at a frat party you’ll forget by the morning — they have a lot more uses in them than carrying snacks around. The more uses you can come up with for them, the less they will get thrown away, and the happier the planet will be.
3. Enjoy Some Meatless Meals
One of the best ways to help reduce waste in the world is to go vegan, which means you stop eating animal by-products entirely — but we live in Texas and there’s a steakhouse on every corner (don’t look, Bevo). So the next best thing is to limit your meat and animal by-product intake. Some great ways to do this are to have three or four designated vegan or vegetarian days throughout the week and to start looking into milk alternatives, like soy or coconut milk. People often report better health when they reduce the amount of animal products they’re consuming. So your skin will be looking clear and so will the planet’s.
4. Turn Old Clothes Into Something New
Paper towels and napkins are an infamous single-use product, and while they’re more degradable, it’s always better to reuse old things than keep going out and buying something new – especially when it’s wrapped in plastic. Taking old clothes you’re not wearing anymore and cutting them into rags not only cleans out your wardrobe but also gives you something nice and absorbent next time there’s a spill at your house party. Then wash, rinse, and repeat.
5. Get on The Metal Staw Trend
Come on, you know you want to save the turtles. Restaurants and coffee shops notoriously fling plastic straws around like nobody’s business, and plenty of people often buy plastic straws for their homes. Instead of opening up a plastic bag to use a plastic straw, buy some metal ones. They usually come in a four-pack with their own cleaner and in an array of fun designs and colors. So not only are you looking a little more stylish while you’re sipping on your latte but also the e-boy you’ve been eying is bound to take notice.
6. Thrift it Up
If you’re in Austin then you have to go thrift shopping. There are thrift shops all over the place, and a gold mine of clothes just waiting to be tried on. This helps reduce waste because the more thrifting you do, the less corporations need to manufacture new clothes through industrial processes. It’s a fun way to save some bank and save the planet. And if you have any leftover fits from the rag metamorphosis you could take them and sell them to Buffalo Exchange, or trade them for a different outfit entirely to be a money-saving icon.
So, as the new year starts to settle in, resolve to adopt these tips to help our planet (and this time, actually go through with it). If we all worked to follow these tips then we could have a massive impact. Or we could move to Mars — that’s cool, too.