sustainability lifestyle practices

Simple Sustainability Practices For Day-To-Day Life

Helping conservation doesn't have to be hard.

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The problem with caring for the environment is that when most people say they do, they don't really mean it. Think about the last time you went to Starbucks. Did you throw your plastic cup out, or did you take it home with you to recycle? I realize taking products like that home isn't convenient, but think about how many people toss their plastic in the trash simply because there isn't a receptacle for it. It's not every other person who throws plastic away either, it's everyone. That adds up to a lot of discarded plastic over time.

But if recycling really isn't your forte, there are other small practices that can make your lifestyle more sustainable. Let's take grocery shopping for example; buying organic, if you have the funds to do so, helps by reducing pesticides. The issue here is that runoff from farming carries the pesticides into watersheds, contaminating water sources and other ecosystems not accustomed to the chemicals. If supporting the local economy is another concern of yours, shopping at farmers' markets not only helps those nearby, but it also reduces gas needed for transportation and emissions from traveling. Reusable bags are sustainable as well. Making sure to use them instead of paper or plastic reduces environmental impact in the long run. The resources and energy needed up front are higher for reusable bags—which is true for any reusable item— but over time, the resources and energy needed for paper and plastic are higher.

As for water, taking shorter showers lowers water usage. Freshwater is a renewable resource, but the amount we use needs to be proportionate to the amount the earth replenishes. The best change anyone can make to save water is to become a vegetarian. I know, I know, but what about taco Tuesday? The issue here is that the water needed to produce the meat you're eating is higher than any other activity you could take part in. Cows above all other meat sources take the blame. The water is used for the cows and the grains they eat. The water each individual cow needs is coupled with the increase in beef demand. Over time, more and more water is needed. So maybe you can't commit to being a vegetarian, but I'm sure eating one less burger a week won't be as bad as it sounds.

Finally, there are single-use products. Silverware and styrofoam plates can't be recycled. We use them once and toss them out because once it's out of sight, out of mind... where it then sits in a landfill until it breaks down into smaller pieces of plastic that never truly degrade. It's a happy picture, isn't it? If you can, bring your own silverware, and if you think that's too weird, ask not to be given plastic silverware with your take out. It's as simple as that. As for straws, simply ask your waiter not to give any to your table, or when you go to Starbucks ask for a strawless cup.

Small changes like this can make your lifestyle much more sustainable and with minimal effort.

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ASU Students Push For A Healthier Dining Hall To Counter 'Freshman 15' Fears

The freshman 15 is an avoidable curse, but many students will continue to follow into its trap.

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Arizona State University students are pushing for change within the downtown Phoenix dining hall as they strive to avoid the infamous freshman 15.

The downtown Phoenix campus offers fewer dining options than the Tempe campus and has a less appetizing dining hall. The freshman 15 is a common scare among students living in the dorms, who are often freshman.

The freshman 15 is defined as a student who gains 15 pounds or more in their first year of college. Studies prove the average freshman does not exercise the right amount, is sleep deprived, has a poor diet, increases their stress level, alcohol consumption, and fatty food intake, which is most likely causing their weight gain.

Lauren Hernandez

Daniella Rudoy, a journalism major and fitness instructor at the SDFC, relived her freshman year as she provided tips for incoming freshman.

"There are a lot of workouts you can do in your dorm room as long as you have access to YouTube or a floor. You can go on a run, a walk, or do exercises that do not require equipment," Rudoy said in support of college fitness.

Rudoy said that mental health, fitness, and nutrition all correlate with one another.

"I follow the saying abs are made in the kitchen. So if you are working out day and night, but eating a giant pizza and chicken wings with a pack of beer when you come home you aren't doing yourself much good," Rudoy said.

Lauren Hernandez

The main cause for weight gain is increased alcohol consumption. 80 percent of college students drink and this includes binge-drinking, which is unhealthy for many reasons.

Students who do not drink are most likely gaining weight because of their exposure to an all-you-can-eat dining hall. The downtown Phoenix campus offers a salad bar as their only consistent healthy option for students, therefore students are left eating hamburgers, fries, and pizza.

"I haven't been to the dining hall this semester. Last semester, I went because I had no other options. I am a vegetarian and the dining hall is not accommodating to those with allergies or food restrictions. I find it very difficult to find vegetarian options," Lexi Varrato, a journalism major said.

Lauren Hernandez

Varrato explained that she believes the freshman 15 is "100% real" and that incoming freshmen should research their meal plans and ask their school how their dietary restrictions will be accommodated before purchasing a non-refundable meal plan.

Megan Tretter, a nursing major at Seattle University emphasized that not every dining hall is like ASU's and that the freshman 15 is "definitely not a problem" at her school.

"I always eat healthy at my dining hall. There are a lot of good and healthy options at Seattle University. I usually go to the smoothie line in the morning, have a salad for lunch, and make myself an acai bowl after work with avocado toast in our floor's kitchen," Tretter said in support of her school's strive for healthy options.

College students across the United States have healthier dining options than ASU, but many colleges still face the same problems that students here are facing.

Tara Shultz, a journalism major at ASU believes she has avoided the "very real" freshman 15 by living at home.

"I believe the freshman 15 targets dorm residence and first-year students who do not live at home as they do not have their parents as a guide and are forced to eat at a dining hall that only serves fatty foods," Shultz emphasized.

Lauren Hernandez

The downtown Phoenix campus offers students access to the SDFC, YMCA, and Taylor Place gym, where students can take group fitness classes, run on a track, play basketball, or swim. Alternative options for students are purchasing a membership at Orangetheory or EOS Fitness.

Most students agreed with journalism major Vanessa Gonzalez that they have little time to work out due to their workload, but many students like Varrato, Tretter, and Rudoy explained that they try to work out every day as it is a stress reliever and it enriches their mental health.

Steve Fiorentino, the owner of Powered Up Nutrition encourages college students to learn what they are putting in their bodies.

"I think it starts with nutrition. Students believe they can outwork a bad diet and I believe that is their number one mistake. My advice is to stop eating fast foods and start eating whole and healthy foods along with supplements," Fiorentino stated.

The freshman 15 is an avoidable curse, but many students will continue to follow into its trap. The campus dining hall is not always the reason to blame as students have the option to decrease their meal plans, become active, and make healthy choices!

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5 Small Things You Can Do That Make Big Changes For Earth Day

Reduce, reuse, recycle, repeat.

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Back in the seventies, Earth Day was a major push for environmental awareness and responsibility took the scale of a national emergency. Companies and factories were pumping out products with no regard to the damages that came with it. Oil spills, toxic waste, landfills, sewage, pesticides, wildlife habitats destroyed and species on the brink of extinction, the carbon footprint trail got longer and longer. To make sure we are not overstepping Mother Nature today, here are five small things we can do for the environment.

1. Use alternate transportation.

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Instead of driving to work, consider walking or riding a bike. No gas emissions harm the atmosphere and you will get some exercise out of it. If you cannot avoid using a car, try carpooling with friends and coworkers or take a ride with Lyft or Uber. Public transportation is still readily available too. Cut back on using a car that uses gasoline and use an electric vehicle in its place, like a scooter. An electric output will cause less damage when compared to gaseous output as well. Or sport a pair of roller skates; nothing says "seventies" like a couple of four-wheeled boots!

2. Use less of anything excess.

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America is known for its excess. If gluttony was an export, no one would be importing it but the United States. To make sure you are not guilty of using more than you need, start with the necessities. Water does not need to be running while you brush your teeth or shave. The same goes for showers; long, hot showers feel nice but a faster shower means a less frequent water bill. Buying takeout or cooking your own meals can lead to leftovers. Limit the number of times you eat out and cook out as well as ration certain portions. Save this food in the refrigerator and make another meal or smaller meals on the go with it for later. Unplug chargers to avoid wasting electricity. If there are clothes you have not worn in years, donate them to someone who will wear them for an even longer time.

3. Garden your own greenery.

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Planting your own fruits and vegetables is a great way to start your own healthy farm to table eating. Plan when you will grow certain foods and pick and cook with them when their fresh and ripe for picking. This will also save you trips to the grocery store. Different seasons mean different foods, so you will always have some variety to look forward to on your plate. Plant a bed of flowers to give add more colors to your garden too. More plants mean more oxygen for you, more pollination for the bees, and more renewable resources from the environment's natural soil.

4. Live the analog life.

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How we use the environment is just as important as how we reuse it. Enjoy what the fruits of your labor with some outdoor activities like a picnic or yoga. Attend local and community events that are proponents for mindful and eco-friendly ways of living. Write a letter instead of texting your grandma on Facebook. Watch a concert or go to a game live and in-person instead of live on pay-per-view. Read a book and not an e-book. Used the sun and not a tanning bed to get that golden brown skin you are after. The environment will be good for you if you are good to it.

5. Donate to your local green movements and programs.

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Supporting all the green thumbs out there will guarantee your conservation efforts are met and reproduced for future generations. Every living thing plays a vital role in our ecosystem, from the land to the sea to the air we breathe. It is all connected and we have to stay connected in the environments we share. If there is not a Go Green Initiative in your town or city, start one of your own in your community. Volunteer and give back to the environment in any way you can that cultivates a budding and thriving place to live in and with.

There is one you and one planet we all live on, so respect and replenish both, for you and for everyone.

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