How to Be a Sustainable College Student by Sarah Lowry
As a college student, living sustainably isn’t always the first thing on my mind. I have exams to cram for and homework to stress about, and I run mostly off of ramen and Cookout milkshakes. I used to think that being sustainable meant buying your groceries from the super expensive organic section, but I now know that it’s easy and inexpensive to form more sustainable habits in day-to-day life. Here’s a short list of tips to make it easier for anyone to incorporate sustainability into their everyday activities.
- Ditch straws.
While straws may seem insignificant, they are actually one of the most common items found in beach clean-ups, and they pose a serious threat to marine life. If you won’t be eating on the go, then don’t get a straw with your drink. Alternatively, if you really enjoy using straws, invest in paper or metal ones that won’t be detrimental to the environment.
- Don’t forget to grab your reusable bags for the grocery store.
Plastic bags are extremely wasteful and are only used for a short amount of time, after which they are discarded. They cannot be recycled, and due to their light weight they end up getting blown out of landfills and into the environment, where they wreak havoc on local ecosystems. Reusable bags are a great alternative to wasteful plastic bags, and they hold a ton of groceries. And if you have plastic grocery bags just sitting around, take them to a grocery bag recycling bin (often found in grocery stores) rather than putting them in a landfill.
- Opt for a reusable water bottle.
Only one out of every three plastic water bottles put in the recycling bin actually ends up being recycled. Reusable bottles can keep your drink hot or cold for an extended period of time, are more economical than plastic water bottles, and are much more environmentally friendly.
- Stay away from single-use plastic items.
A single-use plastic item is anything that is only utilized once, and then subsequently thrown away. Straws and plastic water bottles fall under this category, as do Ziploc bags, plastic silverware, and excess packaging. Be an informed consumer when making purchases and try to buy items that can be used more than once.
- Get involved in campus sustainability groups.
One of the best ways to become more sustainable is to join a student organization. Here at Georgia Tech we have numerous student sustainability groups, including Students Organizing for Sustainability, Engineers for a Sustainable World, and Energy Club.
These are just a few easy examples of how to be more sustainable. For more information and ideas, check out the Office of Campus Sustainability’s Student Sustainable Living Guide.