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5 Easy Ways to Live More Sustainably as a College Student

By Samantha Kruse

1. Reduce

One of the best ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle is reducing single-use plastic. This is important because as consumers we have the power to pick what items we want to purchase, and a lot of times our choices lead to items packaged in plastic. As hard as it is to avoid single-use plastics, we have the ability to reduce our consumption of it. Reducing the use of plastic is vital to our environment, as the production process requires a lot of energy from nonrenewable sources. Because the process takes excess energy, it emits greenhouse gas into the air, which is a leading cause of climate change. Another problem is how plastic waste has been hurting marine wildlife as 10-20 million tons of plastic find their way into the oceans each year. Finally, it affects us as the production pollutes air quality and can hurt our health. Reducing plastic can not only save our environment, but it can also save you money, and here’s how: 

– When shopping, bring your own cloth bag, and if you happen to forget one, go for the paper bags (these work well for protecting textbooks after use and you can recycle them).When buying food and drink items, buy in bulk. For example, go for a jug of water instead of 12 individual water bottles, or go for the family-sized chip bags instead of the small “snack” box filled with chips. Buying food and drink in bulk not only saves money and time, but it does not require the items to be individually packaged by plastic and ultimately reduces intake. 

2. Reuse

Reusing items can also help reduce plastic and keep you on the sustainable track. Using reusable products creates less waste and keeps trash from piling up in already overflowing landfills. Here are some ways to reuse:

– Get out those reusable straws and dress up your drink; plastic straws are out of style. Find these straws at any local grocery store or convenience store in Athens, such as CVS, Walmart, and Kroger. 

– Buying a water bottle, especially a metal one that keeps water cold, is a great way to start practicing using reusable products.

– Reuse the plastic utensils they give out at the dining halls, because who knows when you’ll need that extra spoon or knife.

– If you’re craving caffeine, bring your own coffee cup to The Front Room Coffeehouse in Baker Center and get a discount on your drink. 

3. Recycle

Recycle that plastic! Because plastic is so durable, it takes forever to break down. Meanwhile, it overburden landfills and finds its way into the ocean. One way to help the plastic problem is by doing our part and recycling plastics: 

– If you find yourself in need of a plastic water bottle (as we all do), just remind yourself to throw it into one of those big blue bins that screams “recycling.” Ohio University is very accommodating when it comes to recycling plastic. On most bins, it reads “glass/plastics #1-#7.” These numbers are Resin Identification Codes that say they are recyclable. The kicker here is some places do not accept all of these plastics, but luckily, OU does— just make sure to rinse out those macaroni and cheese containers before placing them into the bin. It is important to clean out the leftover food in plastic containers before recycling them because facilities are not able to accept items if they are dirty. 

4. Save energy

Saving energy impacts our environment by reducing air and water pollution:

– Turn off the lights and let the natural sunlight seep in.

– Before leaving home, flip those light switches off and unplug power cords.

– Take shorter showers; your roommates will also appreciate this.

5. Thrifting and Sustainable Fashion 

What is more fun than thrifting with friends? This pastime is beneficial for our ecosystem as secondhand purchases find a new purpose instead of finding their way to the trash. Not to mention, an increase in fast fashion has made a detrimental impact on the environment and it is up to us to reduce this consumption. Here are ways to help shop sustainably: 

– Instead of hopping on Shein for that shopping spree, why not head to a thrift store in Athens? The Goodwill nearby sells a lot of Ohio University merch. Then there is Athens Underground, wish has the most extravagant jewelry and vintage clothes, and UpCycle Ohio Thrift Store (located on Union Street) sells distinct pieces.

– Shopping locally not only helps support our community, but it also reduces the production impact on the environment. The shops purchase their inventory locally, which reduces transportation miles and pollution from these vehicles. Some of my favorite stores in Athens include: Artifacts Gallery, Import House, Kismet, and Kindred Market (for grocery shopping.)

– Along with going to secondhand stores, donate clothes instead of throwing them away. This is a great way to upcycle and gives other people a chance to buy gently used items.

There are many ways to incorporate sustainable methods into your daily life: reusing, reducing, recycling, conserving energy, and making ethical fashion choices are just some of the ways to help our environment. Taking small steps in the direction of these methods can help better our world and keep our ecosystem clean. 

Samantha Kruse 

Writer, Stylist, and PR | Thread Magazine

Writer for The Beat | The Post

Writer for Pop Culture | The Bench Press Media

Sustainable Fashion Project Member  | Sustainable Action League 

Strategic Communication Major in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism

Ohio University ‘24

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