There has been a noticeable resurgence in sustainability efforts along with a greater awareness of individual contributions towards climate change in recent years.
Although it can be intimidating to consider our impact on the state of the world’s wellbeing, there are simple and easy lifestyle changes that we can adopt to reduce our carbon footprint and waste. Nobody is perfect. For many, especially college students, a zero-waste lifestyle is not a realistic option. That being said, there are still ways we can make changes in our everyday lives to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.
According to a UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, livestock is responsible for 18% of our world’s global warming emissions. Agriculture, and the meat industry, in particular, are both large contributors to these emissions. However, not everyone will become a vegetarian or vegan instantly unless there is a massive and radical shift in ideology. Although, this should not deter the possibility of being more conscious of our daily meat consumption. Participating in meatless Mondays (or any other day of the week) is a great introduction to lessening your meat consumption. Wake Forest’s dining halls offer a wide range of options. They have also made efforts to source their meats responsibly, a factor to be mindful of when considering meat products. If you frequently eat meat, consider swapping out beef for poultry or fish — a change that can make a considerable impact. Also, consider checking out the vegan station every once in a while.
In 2019, transportation accounted for 14% of annual emissions (including CO2 and non-CO2 gases), encompassing travel by plane, car, bus, etc. While many students on campus have cars, there are alternatives students should consider to reduce their personal carbon emissions. One option is the BikeShare program that Outdoor Pursuits and the Office of Sustainability provides for Wake Forest students. Students can take advantage of a clean source of transportation by renting bikes at a low cost for the entire semester. Another option is utilizing public transportation, such as the Wake Line, which can reduce individual transmission impacts significantly.
Shopping for Secondhand Clothing
According to a BBC article, the textile industry is responsible for roughly 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, it’s estimated that 92 million tons of textile waste are created each year, and the textile industry is responsible for 20% of global wastewater. To curb the amount of waste produced by the textile industry, try secondhand shopping and avoid fast fashion. Doing so can help the planet, as well as your wallet. There are many options to choose from, such as online secondhand shops Thredup, DePop and Poshmark, or from local thrift stores near you like Goodwill, Plato’s Closet, Mega Thrift and others.
Donating, selling or repurposing your old clothes is a great way to avoid sending clothing to landfills. Many of these online or in-person stores will also buy clothes from you. If you’re looking to donate, you can also drop clothes at Goodwill or the Green Zone Recycling locations around campus.
Investing in Reusable Items
While eliminating all forms of waste in your life might be a daunting task, there are easy and affordable changes you can make by investing in reusable products that lower everyday waste production. Although some are recyclable, 75% of plastic bottles are not, and they can take up to 450 years to break down. Swapping in a reusable bottle for a plastic one can inspire you to be more hydrated and prevent plastic overflow. Other easy replacements you can make include reusable grocery bags, coffee cups and straws. While these may not seem like major, earth-shattering changes, implementing some (or all) of these can have a beneficial impact on lessening your waste production. Additionally, these alternatives will likely save you money in the long run.