In an industrialized world, it can seem near impossible to do everything you can to save the environment—sure you recycle and you walk when your destination is close by, but there are many other ways to adapt a sustainable lifestyle. That being said, you DON’T need to do anything drastic like permanently ditching your car and biking miles from place to place or going off the grid and covering your rooftop in solar panels (Your landlord might not appreciate that too much). Leading a sustainable lifestyle, as this year’s University theme “Sustainable Futures” calls us to do, is all about giving back in little ways.
Give Back to the Earth
For many years, humans have destroyed plants and habitats to make space for cities and farmland. By stripping the land, we have fewer plants to soak up all the carbon dioxide we put out through cars and other machines.
A simple way to combat this is to plant. This summer my roommate and I bought some pots at the Salvation Army and planted flowers in them. Not only are they good for the environment, but they also look so pretty on our stoop. You could also get vegetable seeds at Wal-Mart and plant them in a pot. At the Sustainability Fair last week, I planted a few pea seeds in a Dixie cup and recently transplanted them to a pot. They’re growing steadily next to the cactus on my windowsill.
Give Back to the Local Economy
As college students, we tend to buy anything cheap and easy–i.e. pasta, pasta and more pasta with some frozen pizza thrown in for good measure. However, buying from local food sources will help sustain the local economy as well as help you avoid all of those nasty pesticides found in grocery store produce and high-fructose corn syrup in pretty much everything else on the store shelves.
The Winona Farmer’s Market runs 7:30am – 1pm every Saturday until October. On special days, the Winona Artisan Market is there as well. I went a couple times this summer and got really great food for cheap (an ear of corn was $0.50 and four cucumbers cost $1). The Bluff County Co-Op is a great place to buy local and organic food all year round. When you buy local, you support members in your community and you get great food out of it too!
Give Back to Your Wallet
Drop your thermostat a few degrees lower. Turn off the lights when you’re not in the room. Stop using paper towels. Quit buying bottled water and use a stainless steel or glass reusable bottle instead. Wash your clothes with cold water and line-dry them (at least during the summer anyway). These little things can help you save money on your energy and grocery bills. At the same time, you’re making a positive impact on the environment.