What does sustainability mean to you? To me, sustainability means increasing one’s lifespan. It means taking the well-known phrase “reduce, reuse, and recycle” one step further. It means refusing single-use plastics and reusing other products. It means looking at single-use plastics more creatively to find other uses for them before tossing them into the trash or recycling. 

I’m passionate about this and if you aren’t I hope by the end of this article you will be too. We need to take care of our planet. Some people may think that sustainability is an expensive luxury but I personally think it’s quite the opposite. Most, if not all, of the tips I give, can help you be greener and save more money in years to come. 

 

How to Live Environmentally Well in 2022

1. Invest in Reusable Products

By now, I hope that you have at least one reusable water bottle that you bring to your classes and a few shopping bags for getting groceries.

Most college students don’t have the financial resources to invest a ton of money in reusable products all at once. To make them more affordable, I encourage you to take it one step at a time. Weigh the spending options. How much money can you save by investing in a nice $20 water bottle vs spending however much on cases of water per year?  

Don’t forget that part of living life more sustainably starts with using up all of the other products you have, before switching to reusable. Reusable products such as straws, beeswax wraps, cloth rounds, feminine care items (diva cup), and many more are become more easily accessible. 

2. Unplug

Did you know that having something plugged in, even when it is turned off,  still uses electricity? I was shocked when I first found this out. Unplugging electronics, kitchen appliances (Keurig, toaster, air fryer), and other appliances can help save you money on your electricity bill when living in an off-campus apartment and save the environment.  

At night, I make a conscious effort to turn off all the lights and unplug all kitchen appliances. Whenever I leave my home for a weekend trip, I make sure to unplug all unnecessary appliances before leaving for a few days.  

3. Go Meatless One Day a Week

Did you know that livestock creates more greenhouse gases than all other transportation (cars, buses, trains, airplanes) combined? I’ve been a vegetarian for 6 years and this was one of many reasons why I switched my diet to be more plant-based.  

Meatless meal options in Winona are widely available in grocery stores and restaurants. On-campus options are available at Zane’s and Jack Kanes. It’s easier than ever to go meatless one day a week. Also, don’t forget you can get a can of black beans for less than $1 at Aldi while chicken can cost more than $1.50 per pound – and yes, I did look that up because I haven’t bought meat in years. 

4. Grow Your Own Food

Spring is here and now is the perfect time to set up an at home garden. I personally love growing a variety of herbs throughout the spring and summer as they are easy to maintain without the greenest thumb. They can add tons of flavor and elevate microwave meals. Additionally, growing food at home can help limit food waste, limit single-use plastics that produce comes in, and can save you money. 

Although I don’t have the greenest thumb with keeping them alive during the winter months. I have found a hack to keep them year-round by cutting them up, putting them in an ice cube tray, and filling with olive oil. My herb cubes can be easily tossed into scrambled eggs or pasta to be enjoyed long after the plant has past its prime.  

5. Skip the Gas

As the temperature warms and gas prices rise, consider using other forms of transportation. Instead of driving your car or ordering an uber, think of using public transport, biking, or even walking around town. 

I love making my weekly grocery shopping trip by walking to the nearest store. It helps me stay active by adding extra steps and increases my strength by carrying my groceries. It helps me spend less by planning out what I truly need and limits impulse spending – and most importantly, helps me save money by not needing to refill my tank as frequently.  

There are so many ways that you can live life more sustainably in 2022. I encourage you to take small steps every day and slowly expand to do more. Be mindful of the impacts and interactions you have with your environment, and together we can have a cleaner planet.  

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Amy Nelson

Amy Nelson graduated in 2020 with a degree in Art: I-Design. As a student, she worked with the University Marketing & Communications team as a writer and photographer. She was hired after graduation to support public health communications during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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