A College Student’s Guide Toward a More Sustainable Life 

Many individuals have been trying to cultivate sustainability in their lives. Maybe you’ve heard of sustainability and want to take steps toward a more sustainable lifestyle but have no idea where to start. The good news is that you don’t have to jump in all at once. The key to implementing sustainability in your life is to take it step by step so habits can take hold. Here are five easy steps that even busy college students can implement in their lives. 

One easy step to take is to carry around a reusable water bottle. Using a reusable water bottle is especially easy at Fairmont State University because bottle refill stations are all over campus. When you avoid plastic water bottles, you prevent them from ending up in landfills or polluting the water. Another benefit of switching to a reusable water bottle is that you could save $1,236 per year! And every college student would benefit from saving that much money. 

Another easy step is swapping out single-use plastic baggies for containers. Instead of baggies, use glass or plastic containers that you can use over and over again. If you are a commuter and pack your lunches, it can also help prevent your food from getting squished. And if you don’t think you can stop using them altogether, try cleaning and reusing baggies if they aren’t too dirty. This can also save college students money while preventing hundreds of single-use plastics from going to landfills. 

A third step you can take is using reusable shopping bags. Build the habit of bringing a cloth shopping bag with you whenever you go shopping or keep some in your car. There are some instances when you don’t need a bag at all. If you go to a store and only buy one thing, you don’t need a bag to carry it; just use your arms. And don’t feel bad if you forget your reusable shopping bags and use plastic. Just be mindful and try to recycle or reuse the bags. The CSC has boxes in every resident hall for students to donate plastic shopping bags. Also, some stores have drop-off bins, and they will recycle the bags. 

Another step you can take is trying to buy things second-hand. You can purchase clothing, shoes, furniture, and many other things second-hand. These items are cheaper than brand new items and when you buy something second-hand, you are giving that item another life. Did you know that people in America throw away fourteen million tons of clothing a year? If you have clothing you no longer want that is still in good shape, consider donating it to a shelter or a store. Also, try not to contribute to cheap fast fashion because it is cheaply made which means it gets thrown away quickly. If you must buy something new, invest in good quality items that will last for years. You end up saving money in the long run! 

One last step you can take is avoiding single-use plates or cups whenever possible. Get some fun bowls, plates, and cups for everyday use. While college students are busy and need quick solutions, washing a plate really won’t take up much time. This is another step that will save you money and significantly lessen the amount of trash you produce. And that is the goal, to take small steps like these to reduce the amount of waste you make, reuse what you can, and recycle what you can no longer use. Robert Swan, a British historian, once said, “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” Don’t wait for someone else to fix it, take small steps every day to help the well-being of the planet.