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How to Live a More Sustainable Lifestyle

Thank you to Sarah Suzuk (@sar.suz) for creating the fabulous illustrations for this post!

As a student, it can sometimes feel like your ability to change the world, to really make a difference, is a task for future-you. After all, as a student who is still studying the world and still learning to “adult,” are you even capable of having an impact on a global issue? I say “yes!” Even in the face of something like environmental change, there is always something you can do to make a difference. Even if it’s on a small scale.

Here are a few small ways that you can make a difference:

1. Use Less Plastic

  • Take reusable fabric grocery bags to the store.
  • When grocery shopping, opt for food packaged in glass containers instead of plastic containers. Again, you can reuse these glass containers for storage. I like to use pasta sauce jars to store grains, sugar, popcorn, etc.
  • Sip your drink instead of using a straw.
  • For short grocery runs, carry the carton of milk instead of asking for a plastic bag.

2. Save Energy

  • Turn off the lights when you aren’t using them.
  • Turn of the TV when you aren’t watching it.
  • Turn of the tap when you aren’t using it.
  • Slow the stream of water when you do the dishes.

3. Reuse

  • Try thrift shopping: Thrifting is a great way to live a more sustainable lifestyle. When you buy used items, you keep them from being sent to the landfill and you reduce the manufacturing demands that come with supplying fast fashion clothing stores. Plus, what you find at the thrift store will be unique to you! No one else will have it. And don’t underestimate what awesome brands you can find at your local Goodwill or Value Village.
  • Recycle at home (and in public) whenever you have the option.
  • Take a coffee thermos to the coffee shop instead of using a paper cup.
  • Instead of buying water in plastic bottles, get a metallic reusable water bottle. This option will also save you money too! What university student doesn’t want to save money?

4. Decrease your carbon footprint

  • Try to avoid ordering online: It takes a lot of energy and packaging to get a parcel to you — including fuel for travel, the production process to make all the packaging, etc. And if you end up returning the item, the whole process will be repeated.
  • Reduce your fossil fuels emission by catching the bus, riding your bike, walking, or carpooling when you can.
  • When a store gives you an electronic receipt option, take it.
  • Don’t litter. Don’t be that person.
  • Buy Local: whenever I’m at the grocery store, I choose the tomatoes grown in Canada instead of the ones grown in the US, or the grapes grown in the US instead of the ones grown in Mexico. The closer the product is to home, they less energy, transport pollution, and resources it takes to get it to your Superstore. Similarly, buying local at the farmers market is an even better way to reduce your carbon footprint, and you are supporting your local farmers at the same time, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
  • Protect Animals: this can be done in small ways. For example, when you travel, don’t support companies that abuse wildlife or intrude in their habitats for the sake of tourism. Seek out sanctuaries that protect wildlife and give animals the amount of space and care they deserve. Try to eat fewer animal products, or no meat at all if you’re up for the challenge.

5. Educate Others

  • Share what you know with your friends and family! A combined effort makes all the difference.

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Student life: You live it. We share it.

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