5 Ways to Live A More Sustainable Life

5 Simple Ways To Live A More Sustainable Life

It's so easy


With environment crises like ocean pollution and global warming, here are 5 small ways to help out mother Earth, and save a little money along the way.

1. Swap Plastic For... Anything Else.

Photo by mali maeder from Pexels

Plastic is often the go-to packaging for many items such as groceries, makeup, and all kinds of other packaged goods. Normally you use whatever is being packaged in the plastic, then throw away the packaging. But plastic is not biodegradable, and at the high rates at which plastic gets thrown away, choosing any other option is better for the environment.

Your cashier at the grocery store always asks paper or plastic, and you never give it a second thought? Try to swap plastic groceries bags for paper, or better yet, use reusable grocery bags, which you can buy in bulk for cheap. Always stopping by Starbucks for your morning coffee?

Those plastic straws can add up fast. Affordable metal straws can be bought in bulk, and often include their own cleaners. Better yet, throw away (recycle it!!) the whole cup and swap it for your favorite stylish water bottle! In most places where you can purchase beverages, such as fast food restaurants, you can request your drink to be put in your own cup, rather a disposable one.

Even buying fresh, uncut produce over pre-cut fruits and vegetables inside plastic packaging seems like a small change, but makes a big difference.

2. Shop For Pre-Owned Clothing

Photo by Becca McHaffie on Unsplash

Looking for an outfit that will make you stand out at the party tonight? Your first thought might be to hit the mall, but is that the best option? Thrift stores sell pre-owned clothing often for much less money, and reuse of a garment is much better than contributing to fast fashion, an industry that pollutes the environment with greenhouse gases. You can also purchase pre-owned clothing through apps such as Depop and Mercari, or on the Facebook marketplace/Facebook groups.

3. Reusable, Reusable, Reusable!

Photo by Brian Patrick Tagalog on Unsplash

Cotton pads, makeup remover wipes, paper towels, what do these all have in common? They are used once and thrown away, adding to the mass of earth's waste. Swapping out these simple items for their reusable equivalents not only decreases waste but decreases the money you spend as well. These items are a staple on many grocery lists and are purchased frequently as they are used once and then tossed.

Reusable cotton rounds can be bought in bulk and thrown in the wash to reuse over and over again. The Makeup Eraser is a washable cloth that just requires you to wet it and takes off all your makeup, eliminating the need for disposable makeup wipes. Any microfiber cloth will work and can be found at any dollar store. Simply cleaning your messes and spills with a rag instead of opting for paper towels is a simple change you can make without needing to go out and purchase something new.

4. Shop Local

Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

Supporting your local vendors has many positive effects, including helping the environment. By giving your money to a local shop, you are not supporting larger corporations that gravely contribute to pollution caused by the transportation of goods and production at mass scales in factories. Investing in your community rather than chain corporations is a great way to uplift the place you and those around you call home.

Check out your local farmers' market, or plan a shopping day exploring your town with friends to find the most unique mom-and-pop shops. Who knows, you might discover a new favorite store or restaurant that's been right around the corner this whole time!

5. Pick Up Trash

Photo by Jonathan Gonzalez on Unsplash

This final tip costs nothing, and takes little to no time. It's this simple: if you see trash on the ground, pick it up and properly dispose of it. I walk past so much trash on the ground every day that it doesn't even seem abnormal, which needs to change. Encourage your friends and loved ones not to litter, and if you see a piece of trash on the ground, pick it up and throw it out. Simple, small acts like this make the difference between trash ending up in landfills or in bodies of water filled with marine life.

Earth is the only planet that can sustain life, and it doesn't seem like that's changing anytime soon. It is our responsibility to keep our planet healthy and safe for all lifeforms residing here. With these simple tips, you can make the first step in treating Earth less like a frat house, and more like a home.

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Are Plastic Straws Really Killing Sea Turtles?

It's no secret that plastic isn't great for the environment, but how sensationalized is this topic actually becoming?


When I first saw a video of a sea turtle getting a plastic drinking straw removed from its nostril, I was obviously upset like any other viewer would be. I care a lot about the environment and about animal life and it was upsetting to see that a product of human consumption and ignorant waste was destroying precious parts of our world. I wholeheartedly jumped on the bandwagon of "plastic straws kill sea turtles!!!" but only knew about the issue from this video and what I heard from people or saw on social media. The whole topic of plastic waste into the ocean remained in the back of my mind until the recent pledge of Starbucks to stop using plastic straws in stores by 2020 reminded me of the issue.

As the topic of plastics and their pollution of the environment (largely the oceans) has become so recently powerful I decided to do some research of my own. If I was going to tell people to stop using plastic straws because they were killing sea turtles, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just repeating everything I heard from social media.

Turns out, plastic straws are hurting sea turtles and other marine life, but a lot of what I thought about plastic waste was exaggerated (at least from what I had heard from others). Sea birds are the most impacted creature by plastic straws, not sea turtles. About 1 million or more seabirds die every year from ingesting plastic straws and choking on them. In research from recent scientific studies, 80-90% of seabirds have some kind of plastic inside of their stomachs. Also, the ecological footprint that plastic straws alone leave on the planet is actually pretty small compared to food waste or fossil fuels.

However, all the buzz about sea turtles may come from the fact that globally 86% of sea turtle species are known to be affected by plastic debris. Overwhelming amounts of plastic garbage in the ocean have caused a steady decline of the leatherback sea turtle over the past several years, so much that they have been placed on the endangered species list. Plastics can hinder eating and consumption, breathing abilities, and even reproductive capabilities of all kinds of sea turtles.

So while plastic straws may not be killing sea turtles in hordes, they are killing sea birds, and plastic overall have caused huge and deadly effects to many sealife species. We have known that plastic is bad for the environment and the oceans for quite a while, given the fact that the Great Garbage Patch was discovered almost 20 years ago, so it's more than time to start caring about the problem. If we can eliminate single-use plastic straws that aren't biodegradable, we can stop using other single-use plastics and make a better effort to reduce our harmful impacts on the oceans. Individually, we can move towards small changes, which can move our society to a more sustainable and healthy place. If you are more interested in this topic, I would suggest reading about how you can make a change or looking at this article and checking out this scientific journal.

Cover Image Credit:

Vinicius Amano


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Being Sustainable Is Hard But It's Not Impossible

Although we've all heard of climate change and have witnessed the disastrous effects that humans have had on the environment, it still seems like most people are not subscribing to the ideals of sustainability.


Sustainability is a tricky term. Most people that hear about it eventually put in the back of their minds, the same place they put "student loans" and "crippling depression." Most people know that to adhere to this ideal would mean to change how they live.

Sustainability is about adopting behaviors and systems that will ensure that the Earth is around for many generations after ours. Sustainability aims to preserve the Earth in terms of seven generations ahead. Seven generations after ours and societies on Earth will be using entirely different systems than what we do now, therefore, we should start this process now to ensure that they will be able to live comfortably and sustainably.

This is where most people tune out, understandably so. It's hard for us to think about the implications of our actions and how they will affect life on Earth much after our own deaths. It suddenly seems like an incomprehensible problem that no one person can ever solve.

"My actions won't make a difference," most people say, convinced that just because they stop eating meat or buying plastic or start drinking from paper straws, that nothing will change. However, what they fail to consider is how their actions will influence the minds of others around them, and one person who stops eating meat or using plastic sends a ripple effect through the people surrounding them. One person making lifestyle changes in the name of sustainability leads others to suddenly consider, "maybe I should eat less meat?" or "maybe I won't use single-use plastics anymore?"

The idea is not that any one person picking up plastic on the beach is going to save the planet, but rather that through education and awareness, we will all take small steps to preserve our home. Large groups of people all taking small steps leads to big changes, and politics and the economy will follow the demand of the people.

The most difficult thing for most people to do is to adopt those small behavioral changes. Not everyone can afford to stop eating meat, but everyone can afford to opt out of single-use plastics. Buying a personal water bottle is one easy way to do this. Stop buying plastic water bottles just to throw them away. If you need to buy them, make sure to recycle them. Instead of taking plastic silverware and straws from restaurants, bring your own reusable set.

Understandably, most of you are already cringing. It's hard to go against the grain and commit to living a plastic-free lifestyle for the sake of sustainability. And what about when you go to Chipotle with your zero-waste kit and somebody asks you a question about why you have that? Fear or convincing themselves that it's "inconvenient" will keep most of you from adopting these little changes that, over time, make a huge difference in the amount of plastic we put in our oceans.

Although we can't all be leaders of huge sustainability efforts to clean our oceans or buy an electric car, we can all make small changes to mitigate this tragic problem. On our current track, the last half of our lives will be starkly different from the first half, for the worse. Educate yourself and be part of the solution instead of the problem.

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