Sustainability Tips

By Chanel McFollins, Staff Writer

A few tips to be more sustainable in your everyday life:

Less Paper

I know, we have been hearing this one since grade school, but it is still an essential piece of being more sustainable. If you are presenting, don’t print a copy of a slideshow or pamphlet for all of your classmates or another audience to view. Instead, upload it to Blackboard, Google Drive, or use this list of useful sites to share, so that everyone can follow along in real time, and no paper is used. The odds are that the paper you printed will end up in the trash afterward anyway. Outside of presentations, you can write on both sides of a piece of paper to waste less and only print what you need.

In today’s world, there are so many other ways to market and disseminate information outside of printing things. The internet and technology have afforded us with endless opportunities to be creative with marketing or sharing information. I remember during last year at Thunderbird, we had an Alumni guest speaker, Michael Seaver. He had a very interesting and interactive discussion with us by giving us a poll and having us answer on our phones. It is still one of the best talks I have been to at Thunderbird, simply because it was more engaging. And, he did not have to use paper!

Less Water

Courtesy of Google

This was one of my weak spots. For a long time, I left the water running while brushing my teeth or washing dishes. But the reality is that these are two seemingly small bad habits that could be turned into two small good habits. When a collective turns their bad habits into good ones, there is real strength and results. So, we can take shorter showers and turn off the water when we are not directly using it. We can also save energy by washing only large loads of laundry because of the amount of water that is used for each cycle. Washing clothes in cold water as opposed to warm water is a significant energy saver as well.

Less Meat (and animal products)
Courtesy of The World Bank

I understand and respect that some people already do not eat meat for moral, religious, or environmental purposes. Did you know that it takes more than 1,500 gallons of water to make 1 pound of beef? That is 7,500 gallons for a family of five to go out for an 8oz steak dinner. I am not proposing that everyone stop eating beef or become vegan; I am simply proposing that everyone eat less meat than they do already. Even if it’s just once a week! There are vegetables which are high in protein that we can eat to make up for the lost protein we usually get in meat. One meal out of the day or week without meat can greatly reduce the amount of water and energy used to produce this meat for consumption.

Additionally, buying local can reduce our carbon footprint due to the use of less packaging materials, fewer resources being used in transportation and therefore fewer fossil fuels; not to mention, local food is fresher and helps boost the local economy.

Less Clothes

There are several environmental factors involved in creating clothes including water use, non-renewable energy use, agricultural land occupation, carbon footprint, freshwater toxicity, air pollution, acidification, and more. Additionally, the most environmentally detrimental part of making clothes is the production process. Donating old clothes as opposed to throwing them out can reduce our carbon footprint by eliminating the amount of clothes that need to be produced (not to mention there are people all over the world who could use them). Buying less clothes, or buying second-hand clothing can make a difference as well. Similarly, you would not be contributing to the clothing cycle process that uses so much energy and water.

This theme of less is an important one. As humans, we can get caught up in taking as much as we want, simply because we can. It is easy to print 10 too many copies or leave the water running because there are no immediate consequences (other than a higher utility bill). And it can be hard to cut on back on buying and eating meat because of our personal lifestyles. However, climate change is a dramatic ramification for all of our small and large conveniences. It is up us to make this planet last as long as possible in its livable form. As aforementioned, it is an issue that can be chipped away with a collective effort.

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