With midterm season starting, and Spring semester in full swing, I thought we could step back and take a second to talk about waste. I know as well as anyone that thinking about waste or what trash goes in which bin is the least of your worries while you’re studying for a 14 page midterm. It seems like just an addition to the stress of our busy lives, but I am here to tell you that managing waste is, in any sense, important, a big step towards a sustainable future, and really, not that hard. In fact, there several easy ways that you can help reduce your waste, and they won’t have you stressing, leaving you to focus on that essay and help out the environment all at once.
- Take it “for here,” or bring your own
Whether you are taking a study break to eat out, stopping for some coffee, or grabbing lunch with a friend, make it a habit to “bring your own.” Paper coffee cups, plastic bottles, cardboard boxes and plastic utensils can add up after a while! So, instead of getting a new cup every morning, opt for a reusable one. Bring your water bottle with you wherever you go, and do your best to use reusable food containers. Better yet, if you are ordering, decide to take it for here! When you sit down and eat (or drink), you’re eliminating the possibility of having to even think about what bin to put it in later.
TIP: This is especially effective at coffee shops! If you know you are going to sit down and study, ask for your drink in a mug; it’s better for the environment and it’s more fun for you.
2. Go for seconds
This is definitely a principle to adopt if you are looking to reduce your waste. Whether we’re talking about actual food, napkins, etc., make sure you are only taking what you will actually use or eat. If you are unsure of that amount, start small and build up! You can always go back and get more, and this way, you don’t end up wasting all the extra you took.
3. Sort your trash, and educate yourself
It’s really easy to just toss everything into one bin, but it’s really important not to. Not taking the extra second to sort your trash means that everything just goes to landfill, and no one wants more landfills, right? So, take a little time to educate yourself on what trash goes in which bin, and pay attention to where you are putting your own waste. Make sure not to cross contaminate bins! If something that was supposed to go into the landfill end up in the compost, that entire bin goes to landfill!
TIP: In your own room or house, have a different bin for each type of waste, that way sorting is much easier!
Now our lives, no matter how we live them, end up producing some sort of waste. Whether eating out, studying at a coffee shop, or even opening your mail, the fact of the matter is that waste will always be a part of our everyday. And while we cannot eliminate waste, we definitely can find ways to reduce and manage it. So, don’t be afraid to do your part, be more conscious of your waste, and get to helping the environment!