How to be sustainable without going broke

With some small changes in our lifestyles, we might be able to be more nature-friendly with just a little bit of effort.


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Theoretically, most people do want to help make the planet a cleaner place. However, if you’re anything like me, being eco-friendly often does slip my mind, especially when you’re being offered plastic utensils and straws at cafes and restaurants. Thus, in accordance with Mizzou Sustainability Week 2019, here are some easy tips and small changes you can make to your daily routine that will help save not just the planet, but maybe your wallet too.

Reusable cups

First off, bring your own cups. I’m sure most people have their own thermos. If you don’t, you could invest in one, which would for sure benefit you in the long run. You might have noticed the Earthright tumblers are sold at places on campus such as Emporium Café. You can purchase these with your swipes, and they can even get you a discount of 25 cents at cafes and dining halls on campus. If you bring your own tumblers to cafes like Starbucks, you also get to save 10 cents, even if the cup you’re using isn’t Starbucks-ware.

Reusable containers

While dining at places in the MU Student Center, you can always opt for reusable plates instead of the plastic to-go boxes. At certain dining facilities, such as Sabai, there are metal utensils instead of plastic, too. It’s also inexpensive to invest in a reusable container to bring along when you know you’re getting take-out.

Recycling and Reusing Apparel

Another important area to target is something we use daily – our clothes. Textile waste is really no joke. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, 20% of global wastewater is produced by the fashion industry, which is an industry valued at $3 trillion (FashionUnited Business Intelligence). The World Wear Project has identified that every single year, consumers throw out an average of 70 pounds per person in clothes and shoes, and 85% of the waste goes to landfills. The scary thing is, according to the Association of Wiping Materials, Used Clothes and Fiber industries, about 95% of all of these materials being brought to landfills are actually recycled. So, what can we do?

First of all, after you’ve finished Marie Kondo-ing your closet, you can donate your clothes to people who will cherish them. A simple Google search will tell you nearby places where you could donate your clothing items. Some retail stores such as Plato’s Closet will pay you for bringing in clothes. Furthermore, there are lots of places within walking distance in downtown Columbia. The Wardrobe, Consign & Design, New Beginning Consignment Clothing and Maude Vintage are some places to look into. It’s not just donating and consigning your clothes there either, as you are sure to find some great second-hand pieces there as well.

Reusable bags

Another easy change is bringing a reusable bag when you know you’re going grocery shopping. Just keep a lightweight reusable bag in your backpack to pull out whenever you need to. I’ve been in situations when I’ve whipped out a reusable bag when told plastic bags cost a few cents at some stores. It’s really rewarding to feel like you’ve saved some money and helped some sea turtles too. Also, being seen as a savior by friends when we’re out shopping is pretty great as well.

The last straw

Lately, the metal straw trend has been blowing up. However, if you can’t afford to get a metal straw, there’s always an option of just not using one. Always try to reduce the amount of waste you’re using if you don’t have any other alternatives. Ask a barista not to include a lid if you didn’t bring your own cup and there isn’t an in-store cup for you to use. It’s hard to remember to bring around your reusable items, especially when you’re a college student who is in a rush to get your dose of caffeine, but there are always little ways you can try to help.

It seems like a stretch to try to save the planet when you’re just an individual trying to reduce, reuse and recycle, but sometimes change does start with small initiatives. While large corporations might the ones contributing the biggest amounts of waste and pollution, we should still try our best to help counter that in smaller ways.

With Sustainability Week happening, there are plenty of opportunities for students to get involved and learn more about leading a more sustainable lifestyle. The week is jam-packed with lots of events such as Ecochella, where an evening of music, art and food can be enjoyed at Peace Park.

For more information about all of these events, you can visit the Mizzou Sustainability Week Facebook page.

Edited by Joe Cross |

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