As another school year comes to a close, we reflect on our sustainability efforts and think about what we can do better for the rest of 2019.
Claire (Farmers’ Market)
I try my best to be as sustainable as possible because I believe it’s important that we all do our part to help the environment as much as we can.
I carry a few handy reusable alternatives with me wherever I go to limit my use of single-use products. I always use a reusable water bottle and predominantly drink water when I’m on the go, especially because it’s easy and free to refill. I also try to bring my reusable coffee cup or thermos with me but still need to work on it because I often forget and end up getting coffee in a single-use plastic cup.
Another thing I want to do better is minimizing my current habit of buying food in plastic packaging. I try to minimize unnecessary disposables by using my own reusable cutlery, straw and handkerchief (instead of napkins), but I know that I can do better.
One thing I have pretty much completely eliminated from my life is plastic bags since I use reusable bags or my backpack whenever I go shopping. Before I made this switch, I found that I was often getting plastic bags without even realizing it because they were a convenience, not because they were a necessity.
I’m currently working towards transitioning my bathroom, shower, make-up and skincare routine to be more sustainable. I aim to eliminate plastic packaging completely from my daily routines; I have started this by using shampoo and soap bars to reduce plastic bottles, but I think I still have a long way to go since a lot of my toiletries are in plastic bottles or containers.
I try to be sustainable in as many aspects of life as I can, from taking a bus or LRT, or simply walking everywhere to having a pescatarian diet.
I do know that I have a long way to go to be as sustainably as I want to be. I have a lot to work on, from taking less long hot showers to reducing my fast-fashion consumption. However, I know everything I do to be more environmentally conscious makes a difference because even the smallest change is a step in the right direction.
Going to grocery stores with 2 or 3 reusable bags has become one of my habits. Not only that, constantly reminding my friends to bring their own reusable bags for any type of shopping is something I do – and it annoys my friends the most.
Despite being called “Mr. Sustainable,” there’s way more that I can do better. For example, my current lunch boxes are plastic and non-recyclable. Even though I have been using them for a long time, I know that they will eventually end up in a landfill. So, I am in the process of switching them from plastic Rubbermaid lunch boxes to glass Tupperware containers. It is good for the environment as well as for my health; it’s a win-win!
My diet is another thing I need to improve. I consume on average 10 pounds of beef towards a specific amount of protein per week. But guess what – nearly half of all the water used in the U.S. goes to raise animals for food! 2,400 gallons of water is needed to produce 1 pound of beef. In other words, I consume 24,000 gallons of water just from eating meat – holy smokes! To be quite honest, I don’t have to eat beef to acquire protein because I have protein powder that is isolated from whey and milk. If I have to eat meat, I can have chicken; it’s really not a hard thing to do. Oh, I almost forgot – if you wanna buy meat, then you should buy in bulk. It has come to my realization that overpackaging is everywhere right now. Why would you buy 20 pounds beef in 5 separate plastic bags when you can get 20 pounds of beef in one big biodegradable or reusable zip bag?
To me, sustainability is really my own mindset. Of course, everybody has their own ways of living their lives, but living on Earth is something we all have in common. And Earth needs us to do something now! It’s not really about recycling anymore; we need to reduce our use in the first place. The word “recyclable” does really mean products can be recycled. Despite that, some products don’t even get recycled. Remember it as “recycl-able” – being recycled or not is really just a possibility. Now we need to reduce and reuse.
Louise (Reusable Dish Program)
Whenever I buy green onions, bell peppers, or other delicious veggies and fruits, I find that I always end up with food scraps left and thrown in the garbage. However, I recently watched some YouTube videos of people finding a new purpose for these food scraps beyond simply composting them. For example, you can save up the scraps to make delicious soup broth, plant the seeds in your garden or indoor plots, or freeze your ripe fruits to blend them up later for some smoothies.
There are many other ways to reduce food waste. Here is a video to get some ideas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqdp0nQvJpk
I find sustainability both fun and sometimes stressful. On one hand, it’s rewarding to know that my commitment to use reusable bottles, thermos, and straws, and to reduce micro-plastics and plastic bags helps the environment. On the other hand, I wonder about how less wasteful my alternatives are, really.
For example, if I kept buying reusable containers or bags but forget to bring or wash them, then keep buying more instead of accepting the single-use plastic…aren’t I being more wasteful? If I want to shop from sustainable shops, so I order stuff online, aren’t I wasting fuel and packaging? It’s confusing sometimes.
Nevertheless, I try my best to help my planet Earth. My current passion is reducing ocean plastics, so I focus on that goal if I ever feel lost or helpless. I think all we can do is do our best to help the environment and each other :3
Claire, Guangyu, Louise, Julia
March 14, 2019