7 steps we as students can make toward sustainable living

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Today, the world stands on a precipice. The effects of climate change have been affecting people all around the globe, and every day we’re reminded that we only have a few years left before climate change becomes irreversible. While structural and systemic change is necessary to help the planet, we as individuals can do our part by developing sustainable living habits. Its not always affordable or possible to make these lifestyle changes, but weve compiled a list of some easily doable, tried and tested practices we as students can start implementing into our daily lives.

Reusable mugs = your new best friend

A lesser-known fact about traditional coffee cups is that they’re sometimes impossible to recycle because of their plastic lining. Take the first step toward zero-waste by investing in a reusable steel travel mug for all your coffee runs. Moreover, you get your fifth drink free at Peet’s Coffee when you order with a free Peet’s Coffee reusable mug! If purchasing a reusable mug is not an option for you, consider utilizing the Vessel Works service (free reusable steel cups) in major cafés around campus, from Caffè Strada and Café Zeb to the Free Speech Movement Café and NorthSide Café. Read more about Vessel Works here.

Say no to plastic straws

Let’s be honest. With 22 boba shops in the one-block radius around campus, many of us gulp down a couple of bobas a week. The plastic straw waste really adds up, so if you can, invest in a reusable straw! Stainless steel straws of all sizes are available on Amazon for $5.

Always have a reusable bag handy

I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times before. Yet sadly, about 10 students in the checkout line at Target before me used plastic bag after plastic bag for school supplies and groceries at the beginning of the semester. So, make it a 2020 New Year’s resolution to avoid single-use plastics! Keep a reusable cloth bag in your backpack at all times for those after-class Trader Joes runs.

Sort your waste!

Again, this is something we all know and yet hardly practice. Go the extra mile by making a conscious effort to sort your waste into the correct bins, even if it takes a little extra time. Also, make sure to clean your recyclable materials and dry them before putting them in the bin! Composting your waste and separating your recyclables into glass, paper and plastic properly will go a long way.

Order less takeout

I know, I know. You’re tired after a long day of class and all you want to do is curl up, watch Netflix and order takeout from your favorite restaurant. But with every takeout package comes a growing mountain of noncompostable food ware. So, get out of bed and whip something up or go dine at a restaurant! Your wallet and the planet will thank you.

Collaborate and engage

Work with friends, neighbors and family! Your efforts will have greater impact when you include and encourage your community to make more sustainable lifestyle choices. Furthermore, involve yourself in the recycling operations and other environment-driven activities in Berkeley and the Bay Area. By educating yourself about the available resources, you can play a key role in diverting plastic waste.

Take a stand

Finally, simply starting a conversation with your peers about sustainability or supporting local initiatives takes us further to our goal. Make your voice heard among local authorities to introduce initiatives or programs that lead to sustainable living. If you’d like your favorite store to ban plastic packaging or your favorite boba place to stop providing plastic straws, speak out!

Our home planet needs all the help it can get. As human beings, we have the responsibility to care for our planet. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, implementing these small changes into our daily routines is the first step toward a healthier planet!

Contact Nandita Radhakrishnan at [email protected].